Student-run theater production focuses on how media depicts social injustices

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In an era in which the public is polarized on nearly all political issues, a group of Miami-Dade high school students have conceived and produced a play that focuses on how the media portrays social injustices.

Beginning Thursday, March 1, the Holocaust Impact Theater will perform its annual student-run production at the Alper JCC in Kendall. “Standby,” which takes place in present time, is written, directed and acted by high school students from throughout Kendall-area high schools. Their vignette-style play includes an array of scenes touching on the nation’s most controversial topics, according to the students.

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Coral Reef High student April Rubin, lead writer of ‘Standby,’ a student-run production about the media’s portrayal of social injustices.

NICHOLAS POBLETE For the Miami Herald

“Through the writing meetings, many different ideas were proposed as the foundation of the show,” said April Rubin, 18, the play’s lead writer. “Ultimately, the media idea was the one we all thought could be best developed and was most pertinent to what is going on in our society today.”

Rubin, a Coral Reef Senior High senior, collaborated with 14 other writers to develop the production’s theme. She wanted the script to demonstrate how society acceptance is lost when the media is divided along political lines.

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Coral Reef High student Luis Colli, director of ‘Standby,’ a student-run production about the media’s portrayal of social injustices.

NICHOLAS POBLETE For the Miami Herald

The play’s first vignette embodies its message best, according to director Luis Colli, 18, also a Coral Reef senior.

During that first scene about immigration reform and Dream Act children, two reporters (one conservative, the other liberal) address the same issue from each political perspective, Colli said.

From the script:

Cristina (a conservative reporter): “Allowing DACA to stay intact will encourage illegal immigration and contribute to a surge of unaccompanied minors who are protected from following proper immigration procedure.”

Morgan (a liberal reporter): “The allegation that Dreamers are more likely to commit crimes than US citizens is contradicted by the reality of the situation. To retain DACA status, Dreamers cannot pose a threat to public safety.”

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Ruth Gordon, executive producer of ‘Standby,’ a student-run production about the media’s portrayal of social injustices.

NICHOLAS POBLETE For the Miami Herald

Executive producer Ruth Gordon has been at the helm of Holocaust Impact Theater for 14 years. Now retired, she spent 35 years teaching children, instilling them with the importance of being a good citizen and eradicating hate.

“I love young adults. They’re our future. If we don’t make sure they are on track, then what?” Gordon said. “They impact my life. Every year I am in awe of these kids.”

For many of them, “Standby” has been their first experience in theater.

Neal Salgado, 17, is a student actor making his stage debut. The Coral Reef junior plays a journalist whose nephew dies as a result of police brutality.

Salgado hopes the play will help the audience become more socially aware. “I feel like I’m doing something good, honestly,” said Salgado, “showing a lot of people these issues and raising awareness.”

The production will be recorded by a three-person video documentary crew, comprised of high school students. The documentary crew hope their finished film is good enough to enter in film festivals next year.

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Coral Reef High student Jackson Ribler, video documentary crew member of ‘Standby,’ a student-run production about the media’s portrayal of social injustices.

NICHOLAS POBLETE For the Miami Herald

Jackson Ribler, 18, a senior at Coral Reef, is part of the documentary crew. Recording the production will allow the play’s message to reach students at other schools, raising awareness and ideas of tolerance.

“We are trying to capture the show itself,” Ribler said. “The important part of it is showing how different it is than any other theatrical production. You have kids that do not have any theater experience, that aren’t savvy with acting, that are coming out and doing this. There is a story, and there is a message.”

“Standby” will be performed 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, through Saturday, March 3, at the Alper JCC at the Jay Morton-Levinthal Campus, 11155 SW 112th Ave.

Tickets are $10 at the door, cash only. To purchase online via credit card, visit http://hrld.us/2ETdLgB.

For more information, email Ruth Gordon ruth21952@aol.com.


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