SOME VOICES OF YOUTH. Teens: an attempt at `raising consciousness' [BY]Ellen Steese, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
THERE is often a roaring energy to an audience of 800 high-schoolers - particularly a few days before school lets out. An energy that may be absent from an audience of 800 adults. Sometimes adults stare blandly forward during a presentation, occasionally vouchsafing signs of life by applauding when appropriate.Skip to next paragraph
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In an auditorium of kids, on the other hand, people are all but doing wheelies on the ceiling. They have strong reactions to everything. No discreet titters or polite guffaws here, but shrieks and hoots.
These reactions, however, may bear little resemblance to the official view being promoted by teachers and other responsible adults!
Before school let out this summer, the Cambridge Rindge and Latin Improvisation Troupe presented several skits on the subject of domestic violence at Somerville High School as part of the Dating Violence Intervention Project. This project is sponsored by Transition House, a shelter for battered women, and Emerge, a counseling organization for battering men.
The performance was presided over by Carole Sousa of Transition House and Doug Aucoin of Emerge, and was directed by Jim Vetter.
THE audience follows every point and plot twist with noisy interest. No performers on Broadway could hope for reactions like this.
Particularly vocal is a group of boys in the upper left balcony, who are demonstrating a teen-age boy's idea of being cool in front of your friends. For instance, a sample skit shows a guy punching his girlfriend because she forgot their lunch date.
``Do it! Hit her!'' shrieks the left balcony.
Other scenes show a boy hitting a girl because she lost a necklace he gave her, another yelling at a boy who talked to the first one's girlfriend at a party, and another pressuring a girl to sleep with him, despite the fact that she said no several times. Screams of laughter come from the crowd when he says, ``I didn't think you really meant it''.
In the skits two girls chatter in the restroom about the black eye one of them has because her boyfriend hit her. ``Rachel, you should care,'' says the sympathetic friend to the one patting her eye and declaring that no, she doesn't.
``Oh, puh-leez!'' comments a girl behind me - one of a contingent with wildly teased hair, tight black pants, and big earrings.
From the stage, ``I don't want to lose him, Cor,'' says the battered girl to her friend.
``Awwww!'' screams the crowd.
The moderators announce that we will be reviewing the skits again and asking for comments from the audience. At the scene where the boy is pressuring the girl to sleep with him, one boy in the back proves that the age of chivalry is definitely dead by yelling, ``Show the other way around - girls pursuing guys!''
``Yeah!'' screams the left balcony.
``Does she mean no when she says no?'' Carole Sousa asks the audience. Opinion is loudly divided here, with girls saying yes and boys saying no.
There are also differing reactions to the reprise of the hitting scene, the one where people yelled, ``Do it!'' ``That was all the boys,'' one girl says.
``'Cause they're sick,'' says another.
``They think it makes them look good when they hit the girls, but it doesn't,'' says a third.