Cypress Creek's 'Ugly Duckling' sends message about bullying
At a theater workshop last summer, Cypress Creek High senior Lauren Harsany learned that a good way to promote a play is to invite children for free if they bring a page out of a coloring book. Where children go, grown-ups follow, and they pay $5 each for admission.
She enlisted her friend Maddi Andraschko, also a senior, to help produce and direct a children's play and use that ploy to attract an audience. They picked a script based on Hans Christian Andersen's famous fairy tale "The Ugly Duckling" because they thought children would learn a valuable lesson from it.
"The message is that it really does hurt people when you talk about them and get them down," said Brice Phillips, a 14-year-old freshman who plays the ugly duckling who matures into a swan.
Phillips is just a year older than Asher Brown was when he shot and killed himself on Sept. 23. Just months ago, Phillips sat in the same classrooms at Hamilton Middle School where Brown's parents say their eighth-grade son was "bullied to death."
"With the recent bullying events, the message of the play became that much more relevant," said Harsany. "Maybe it will help so that events like the ones that took place will not happen in the future."
"I sure hope it will," added Andraschko. "I hope (audiences) will see it and make better choices from what they have in the past."
Andraschko said that just last week she was the victim of cyberbullying when another student wrote hateful things about her on Facebook.
"I always thought that bullying was one of those things that happens to other people," she said. "You think it's just a joke, but I was very upset. You delete it from your wall, but it still makes you feel bad. It's different when it happens to you."
She laughed about the incident as "high school drama," but said it made her feel more empathy for the title character in the play.
Harsany explained that when Siggy, "the ugly duckling," is hatched, he doesn't look like the other birds, and most of the animals are cruel to him. He tries to fit in by helping the cows, then guarding the hen's eggs, then scaring away cats, but he doesn't succeed at any of those tasks because that's not who he is. Only at the end of the story does he realize he's not a duck but a graceful swan.
Students in Cypress Creek's No Place for Hate Anti-Defamation League saw the relevance of The Ugly Duckling play to causes they champion, and they decided to help sponsor the production as a creative way to help spread awareness about bullying and discrimination. Children under age 12 will still have to bring a coloring page for free admission, but now it's a "special" a page from an ADL coloring contest that comes with "a resolution of respect."
The page and additional information can be found at www.cycreektheater by clicking on the duck picture.
Almost 20 students will participate in The Ugly Duckling when it's performed at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, at Cypress Creek High School, 9815 Grant Road. Tickets for children 12 and older, students and adults are $5.
Prizes will be awarded to the best coloring page in several age groups.
After the performances, a donation from proceeds will be made to No Place for Hate.
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