Where do you go if you’re a recovering bully looking to change your ways? You go to a meeting of Bullies Anonymous.
Bullies Anonymous, a play being performed by 20 Burlingame elementary students this weekend, examines the complex and chronic issue of bullying.
“[Each character] is a recovering bully, and this is a meeting of Bullies Anonymous,” said Director Cathy Foxhoven, who noted an exception of two teacher characters. “They’re all learning how to handle their bullying and to recognize it and to understand it.”
This storyline provided ample teaching opportunities for Foxhoven, who taught the performers about the wrongs of bullying. She emphasized her lessons by personalizing them with stories of problems her own children had in school.
Foxhoven said she likes doing productions with a deeper message for the kids and audience to take away.
“The more I’ve worked with the play, the more I love it, because it is such a good way of teaching children to know what bullying is,” she said. “It’s done in such a way that it’s not frightening to the kids and it’s not inappropriate, it’s just the nicest way and the most non-threatening way of teaching children that bullying is not ok.”
Different lessons the musical deals with include recognizing the reasons behind bullying—that sometimes it can pass from generation to generation---that it’s not cool to be cruel and that everybody has a responsibility to report bullying.
The play doesn’t included much name-calling, but rather explores the various forms of bullying, recognizing they’re all wrong.
Although the play carries a serious message, Foxhoven said the show is entertaining and full of fun music.
“The messages in these simple, catchy, little songs in incredible,” she said.
While Foxhoven did encounter one student who was hesitant to play a bully, she reminded the cast they are playing characters and spreading an important message at the same time.
The short production—Foxhoven’s elementary productions normally run about 35 to 40 minutes—plays Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. in the multi-purpose room. It is free and no reservations are necessary. The students will also perform at the State Convention of the American Association of University Women (AAUM) in Santa Clara on April 13.
“I am…so proud of the kids,” Foxhoven said. “These are the hardest working kids that we’ve ever had, and so I’m just excited to be able to showcase their talent and what they’ve done with the production.”