published Friday, September 9th, 2011

Actors help write 'Lunch Money' on bullying

IF YOU GO

What: "Lunch Money."

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Sept. 16 and Sept. 23; 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 and Sept. 24; and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 and Sept. 25.

Where: St. Andrews Center, 1918 Union Ave.

Admission: $10 adults, $8 students.

Phone: 987-5141.

Website: www.ensembletheatreofchattanooga.com.

The eight actors who take the stage in the original production of "Lunch Money," which opens today at the Ensemble Theatre at St. Andrews Center, also share writing credit. In fact, said director Garry Lee Posey, several of the actors' experiences will play out onstage.

"It was important that the actors serve as the writers, accumulating the script from data and their own experiences with bullying," he said.

The production, according to Posey, will be split between acts focusing on those who are bullied and those who bully. In all, it will feature 14 monologues, three scripted stories and various quotes and statistics on the problem.

The majority of the monologues come from incidents reported on anonymous surveys solicited using the theater's mailing list, its website and students in the college classes Posey, the theater founder, was teaching.

After the surveys had been culled, Posey said, he assigned each of the actors to use their creative license to turn specific incidents into a monologue.

"I picked ones I thought would be easy to tell dramatically and ones I found fascinating and instructive," he said.

The three static settings include a bedroom, where those who have been bullied might retreat; a classroom, which represents various places for bullying in schools; and an outdoor park, which offers a variety of bullying settings.

The actors include four adults in or just out of college and four children in elementary school, Posey said.

"It's been a fascinating process having the actors serve as writers as well," he said. "And, I have to say, the younger ones have been right up to par."

Posey said each Friday performance will be followed by a talk-back time, so the actors and audience can share the experience of what has taken place. The experience throughout the process, he said, also has brought back memories of being bullied in his life that he'd not remembered he had.

"I wondered," he said, "if audience members would have this same experience."

"Lunch Money" is geared to audiences of middle-school age -- where statistics say bullying is the worst, according to Posey -- and older.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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