Teen’s anti-bullying play debuts

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, December 17, 2009

In junior high, Annette was teased and bullied to the point of tears. She was tripped, pushed and shoved. It reached a climax for her when classmates took an electric sander to her hand. All this she endured because she was “different.”

Fortunately, Annette isn’t a real girl. She’s a character in a play written by Caitlyn Weis, a 16-year-old junior at Lakeland High School. Weis, however, is a real girl, and she based her play on her life. Having her hand sanded was only one of many cruelties she endured for being different.

Weis’ 30-minute play was chosen by Lakeland’s drama teacher, Sara Sims, for the team to compete with during a Jan. 16 competition between local high schools. The topic of the plays are “Beauty Is…” Weis titled her play “Beauty is Within.” Thursday night was the first time the piece was performed.

“It’s a play about a girl who is out there,” said Sims. “She’s not a cookie cutter. She’s unique and her own individual, but she’s being bullied for it.”

After changing schools and making new friends, Annette realizes her uniqueness is what makes her beautiful.

“You’re not afraid to be different — to be yourself. That’s truly beautiful,” said Annette’s boyfriend in the play.

Weis, who grew up in Hampton and moved to Suffolk at the beginning of ninth grade, dressed differently and wanted to be unique in junior high and elementary school.

“The other students didn’t understand someone that was different from them. They couldn’t see the bigger picture and see that just because something was different it wasn’t scary,” she said.

She wrote her play based on her life, because she felt that it held an important message for people.

“People who aren’t afraid to be unique and be themselves are beautiful people,” she said.

She wrote the play as a project for her theatre arts class with low expectations that it would go anywhere.

Sims expects differently.

After reading at least 17 other pieces, she said, Weis’ play struck a chord.

“Some things I read were okay and not bad, but nothing sang to me,” Sims said. “And in theatre, if you don’t love it, you don’t do it. When I read her play, though, I was astonished.”

After a few edits, Weis’ play was stage worthy, and the team of more than 20 has been working on it for two months.

“I thought the cast and crew were going to be much smaller, but it just kept growing,” Sims said.

Weis said she hopes her play eventually will go to nationals, but she really just hopes people see the point she is trying to make.

“Beauty is in everyone,” she said. “Each person is a unique creation. Just because someone is different, they should not be treated differently — because we’re all different, and that’s what makes us beautiful.”