A theater troupe is coming to the Lieutenant Peter Hansen Elementary School in Canton, but not just for entertainment.
Deana’s Educational Theater puts on shows about bullying in an attempt to prevent harmful acts and encourage good behavior.
“It deals with respect and healthy relationships and learning to tell the difference between bullying and teasing, and how to get yourself out of a difficult situation,” said Christine Shaw, executive director of Deana’s Educational Theater.
The group is named for Deana Brisbois, a Topsfield woman who died in a car crash in Brockton with her boyfriend driving. Only after Brisbois’s death did her family realize she had been the victim of domestic abuse.
The theater troupe works with children in kindergarten through Grade 12, with college students, and with the military, to stop bullying and dating violence, which are related, Shaw said.
At the Oct. 11 performance, actors Meredith Saran, Josh Coleman, and Mary-Liz Murray will portray children the same age as those at the Hansen School, and show how they get into bullying situations and how they might get out.
“In the beginning, they will talk to the kids,” Shaw said of the actors. “They will be getting the kids involved and stop and ask questions in the middle of the show.”
According to Shaw, the program, called “All Starz,” has been so popular that her Wakefield-based organization will soon celebrate its 20th year.
“It’s not a lecture with kids; it’s a fun educational tool where kids are seeing real-life scenarios before them,” Shaw said. “They are not only able to see it on an educational level; it hits them on an emotional level.”
Bullying has assumed other forms in recent years, namely through texting and the Internet.
“In younger grades, we talk about texting and what it is to send hurtful, mean texts,” Shaw said. “Once you send a text, it stays with that person forever.”
For older grades, Deana’s emphasizes the consequences of sexting and cyberbullying, according to Shaw.
The troupe appeared last year at Canton’s Dean S. Luce Elementary School, Shaw said, adding, “As a result, Hansen booked our program. That is typically what happens.”
The organization also performs other plays, including “The Yellow Dress,” a one-woman show dealing with dating violence, sexual coercion, and bystander intervention.
For more information on Deana’s Educational Theater, visit www.deanaseducationaltheater.org.
Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.