(MURFREESBORO)— Having courage enough to stand up to the school bully is the theme of “Tommy's Laugh O Meter Invention for the County Fair,” an original play by Monica Sharee Johnson , that will be presented Sept. 21-22 at the Rutherford County Boys and Girls Club in Murfreesboro.
The 45-minute production, which its creator describes as “a children's educational comedy,” will feature a cast composed of area youth who are members of Generation for Creation (GFC), a nonprofit, inter-community visual and performing arts program for children ages 7-17 that was founded by Johnson in 2001.
Johnson said she was inspired to write the play, because she wanted to write a comedy with a realistic storyline that involved a school bully and how other children deal with him.
“ I know this is an issue that several kids may encounter, and I believe it is important to talk about issues so that children are aware that bullying prevents good relationships among peers,” she added.
The “Laugh O Meter” storyline follows the experiences of Tommy, a young boy who encounters the school bully, Bobby, while attending private school. Tommy is the lone kid in the school brave enough to stand up to Bobby, and not long after they meet, a battle of wits ensues when students are required to submit a science project for the county fair competition.
“Tommy and his science team puts their heads together to develop the Laugh O Meter machine, which will test how funny a person is,” director Johnson explained. “And Bobby and the new kid at school, a character named Chris, accept the challenge to see who is the funniest of them all.”
The role of Tommy will be played Duel Lane, a sixth-grade student at Reeves Rogers Elementary, while Charles Jackson, who attends Riverdale High School, will portray school-bully Bobby. Dakoda O.N. Rollins, an eighth-grader at Rock Springs Middle School, will play Chris, the bully's comedic rival.
The cast also will include Maya Alley, Northfield Elementary; Eliyah Zachary, Blackman High School; Aaliyah Zachary, Rockvale Elementary; Jacobi Edwards, Siegel Elementary; Logan Barrett , Lascassas Elementary; Mary Muhammad, John Pittard Elementary; Dylan Hendon and Mark Hendon, Kittrell Elementary; Yessenia Pena , Scales Elementary; and Safiyyah Muhammad and Sabrine Muhammad , Oakland High School.
Regarding the premise of the educational comedy, “I like this story because it relates to me personally and shows what goes on at school,” said Rollins, 13, whose character confronts the school bully.
“Some teachers and parents don't see that bullying really goes on, but it happens every day,” he added. “Bullies may think their behavior makes them popular, but to me, the ones who get bullied and stand up to them are the bigger people.”
“All children should feel safe to go to school and get an education,” Johnson observed. “This play proves that the things that bullies typically do and say are not funny, and the Laugh O Meter proves what is really funny to people in general.”
The GFC players will present a special performance of “Tommy's Laugh O Meter Invention for the County Fair” on Sept. 21 exclusively for staff and members of the Girls and Boys Club “to honor our appreciation for the support the club has shown to GFC,” Johnson said.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 , the play will be presented at the Murfreesboro-based Boys and Girls Club, 820 Jones Blvd., in a public performance that is open to all. Immediately following the play, several members of the cast will perform their own original, stand-up comedy for those in attendance. Admission is $5 per person and reservations are required because seating is limited.
For more information about the Sept. 22 production, including ticket/reservation information, please call the GFC office directly at 615-890-7116.
For more information about GFC, its upcoming production schedule, acting classes for youth or sponsorship information, please access its Web site at www.gfckids.org .