Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bigger Than You Think!

Middletown conversation to help all youth

Jim Salemi, Middletown Press
MIDDLETOWN - The city Youth Service Bureau deals often in numbers, compiling and crunching studies, surveys, statistics and the like.
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that those numbers represent real people dealing with real circumstances in life.
That was the logic behind the bureau’s decision to produce an ambitious play about the people of Middletown, some once represented in the surveys and statistics and overcoming the odds, and some not necessarily represented as a statistic, but making achievements nonetheless in the face of other obstacles.
"Behind every statistic there is a story. The young and old tell stories of growing up. It’s a play involving the community and the kids," said Justin Carbonella, youth services coordinator.
The one-act play, "Bigger Than You Think," will be shown at 7 tonight at the Middletown High School auditorium.
"The play morphs into a community conversation, Carbonella said.
He said that there will be four tables set up in the orchestra pit in front of the stage.
"The statistics and stories will paint the picture," he said. "We will have a year’s worth of conversation in a couple of hours."
"Bigger Than You Think" was written and directed by Community Performance International, which has partnered with youth services and the Center for the Advancement of Youth, Family and Community Development to create a synthesis of statistics and life stories.  

All of the characters and scenes from the play were taken from a story gathering session in June that brought together nearly 100 youth and adults in Middletown, according to Carbonella. The community conversation is dedicated to organizing a community to support its youth.
In addition, youth services will begin the process of releasing its latest data on Middletown youth, which details their attitudes and behaviors, and is the first follow up to the agency’s 2006 survey. Both surveys represent the voices of more than 3,000 city youth.
Joanne Jukins, second grade teacher at Macdonough Elementary School, Middletown police Lt. Gary Wallace, schools Superintendent Patricia Charles and Quentin Phipps, director of the Downtown Business District and city treasurer, are on stage, as well as other community members, leaders and organizers, students and teachers, are all a part of the production.

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