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Mime stage play delivers anti-bullying message

By CAMERON JERNIGAN

Summer Intern

AHOSKIE – What happens when bullying goes too far?

That’s the question posed in ‘The Boom Box Live’, a gospel mime stage play that made a stop in Ahoskie on June 7.

Held at the Soul Saving Station, the two act play, performed by the Generation 7 Mime Ministry, a performance company based in Greenville, NC, tackles the often ignored topic of bullying and the effects it can have on today’s youth. Interestingly enough, with most of the characters being mimes, very few of the cast members actually spoke. Music and pre-recorded voiceovers were used for the characters to get their vocal points across.

To attend a performance of the play can cost in upwards of $50 or more for one ticket. Soul Saving Station member, Rev. Linza Weaver, recalls how she wanted to attend the play at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va, but decided she could not afford it after seeing ticket prices.

“A couple of months ago, I wanted to go to this production that was going to be at Hampton Coliseum. But when I found out how much it costs, I decided I couldn’t afford to go,” she said.

Luckily, the Ahoskie event was free to the public, after being sponsored by several local townspeople.

Rev. Susie Elliott, of Soul Saving Station, was the director of the event. She got the idea of bringing ‘The Boom Box Live’ to Ahoskie after she was invited to a performance of the play at a high school in Greenville. At the performance was a family of a 13-year-old who committed suicide due to being bullied in school, which further encouraged Elliott to try to bring the play to Ahoskie.

Before the play began, Christa Faison-Hall performed several selections, including an original selection titled “Jesus” from her latest album.

The play focuses on a shy teenager, Sasha Love, played by Zyala Turnage, who suffers bullying and beatings at the hands of her classmates at The Boom Box Academy. She lives with her grandmother and Aunt Jackie. Her older brother, Elijah, also dealt with bullying growing up, and is now in the Army. Her grandmother spends much of the play encouraging Sasha, telling her things will get better in time.

Also at the forefront of the play is Mr. Stereo, a mysterious figure, played by playwright DeMario “Mr. Mime” Carr. Several times in the play he saves Sasha from the violence she suffers at the hands of her classmates, picking her back up when she falls.

The 26-year-old Carr, who has been ministering to people for almost ten years, wrote the play in a little over a year and spent about two years fleshing the story out to its current form, which incorporates more dialogue and music than the original. The play evolved out of an attempt for Generation 7 to promote anti-bullying messages in a visual way. The decision to use mimes as characters instead of regular characters was a result of an attempt to appeal to young people. Carr also says that the Sasha character is not based on one specific person, but a mix of many people’s stories wrapped into one.

Mr. Stereo also serves as a friend and confidant to other students, uncovering why they bully Sasha. Cholesterol Johnson, played by Ulyssiana Monroe, one of the main perpetrators of Sasha’s bullying, tells him that she was molested by a family friend. It took a second occurrence for her mother to believe her. Mike Jones, played by IzRayel Robinson, reveals that when he was woken up to his parents’ arguing one night, his father exposes the fact that he is not Mike’s actual father.

Early in the second act, Sasha’s grandmother passes away. Bits and pieces of her worsening health were shown throughout the play, culminating in her death.

After her grandmother passes away, Sasha is left helpless. She feels like she has nothing to live for.

“All I ever wanted was to be accepted. All I ever wanted was to fit in,” she says fighting through tears. “I never bothered anyone here. Why am I always getting beat down and talked about?! I don’t have anyone left in this world.”

Mr. Stereo tries to intervene, but fails. Sasha attempts suicide, shooting herself.

In the last scene, Sasha is seen in the hospital, eventually surviving her attempt at suicide. She, Mr. Stereo, and Jackie rejoice as the play ends.

Many of the attendees enjoyed the event. At the end of the play, the crowd gave a standing ovation as the entire cast returned to the stage for the curtain call.

After the play, many attendees gathered in front of the altar to pray.

Tondra Balance, who attended the play with her daughter and niece, especially enjoyed the scene when Sasha and her family attend church and Mr. Stereo gives a sermon to the crowd.

“The play was – it was awesome. To me it was not only for the young folks, but it was for the older generation as well,” she said. “It was a blessing, it was anointing; it was just awesome.”

Bullying affects thousands of children in America every day. Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 students in the U.S. say they have been bullied at school.

Bullying can result in depression, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and can cause loss of interest in school and extracurricular activities.  If you or someone you know is being bullied, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).