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By Kate Kowsh
posted May 15, 2014 - 11:37:06am
Students at Taylor Middle-High School in Pierson are hoping to combat the ills of racism with their upcoming original theatrical production, Fern the Musical.
Inspired after studying Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story in drama and digital-production teacher Susan Cardillo’s drama classes, students began writing the musical in January, when they noticed parallels between the two classics and their everyday lives in Pierson, according to Cardillo.
“The production was selected after my students studied Romeo and Juliet, the story of young people in love whose families hated each other and caused tragedy,” Cardillo said. “We then watched West Side Story (based on Romeo and Juliet), about two young people in love whose rival nationalities caused issues.”
Cardillo added that her students thought it would be interesting to set the story in Pierson, embellishing upon the town's sometime cultural differences between the Caucasian and Mexican population.
“Racism has always been a part of Pierson, and a part of Taylor, and it really goes unnoticed most of the time,” Taylor student James Underwood, 17, a senior, explained. “So it’s really cool to be part of something that shows how bad racism can get, at times.”
Underwood, who is slated to play the part of Ty, Juliet’s brother, in the upcoming production, explained that he’s pleased that the play offers a resolution at its end, which audiences can choose to apply to their own lives to help stamp out racism.
“I hope that it’ll really open up the minds of the audience, and show them that racism is not the way to go, that everyone is equal.”
Lifelong Pierson resident Daniel Ramos, 16, a sophomore who will play the part of Guapo in Fern the Musical, echoed Underwood’s sentiment on how he hopes the production will get people talking about racism, and, hopefully, stamp it out at his school.
“It’s sending a kind of statement to people around here,” Ramos explained. “The race of one person doesn’t matter who they can be with, or separates them from other people. I’m hoping it will send more of a view of equality to everyone for everyone.”
The musical includes more than 50 students as cast members, and has 18 production numbers, Cardillo explained.
“We see art as a way to entertain, enlighten, educate and create social change,” she added “If we can bring a little of each of these to our audience ... we have accomplished our mission.”
Fern the Musical will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, May 16, and at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17, in Taylor Middle-High School’s theater. Tickets cost $5.
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