Prime Stage Theatre
specializes in presenting plays of classic literature that are accessible to all ages, but to reach teens with a warning about dating violence, the theater turned to its own Teen Board for a fresh new drama.
The result? "Everything is Fine," being offered in a free showing March 1, with donations benefiting the Demi Brae Cuccia Memorial Foundation.
Demi Brae Cuccia was a well-known Gateway High School cheerleader when she was killed in 2007 by an ex-boyfriend. Prime Stage hopes "Everything is Fine" teaches teens the warning signs of dating violence in a way that an adult-written play never could.
Dotty Weisberg, Prime Stage board member and Teen Board advisor, says her daughter Hannah Jo and two other Teen Board members wrote the play after the entire Teen Board came up with ideas, then collectively reviewed and refined the results. It has already debuted at several high schools.
"The kids who came to see the play … their attention was there from the very beginning," says Weisberg. "There were kids who came up and talked to counselors afterwards who said they thought that they were in a relationship that wasn't healthy."
In general, the Teen Board suggests Prime Stage productions that teens ought to be interested in seeing, "in the hopes that as adults they will continue to enjoy going to live theater," says Debra Sciranka, Prime's marketing assistant. Prime will also feature a new dark-night reading series beginning Feb. 27 with a memoir by local multidisciplinary artist Shirley Barasch, who will talk about growing up in Squirrel Hill and developing her creative side despite a strict religious upbringing. Its next play production is "The Elephant Man."
"Everything is Fine" will be available for performances at schools and other organizations whose audience might benefit.
"A child doesn't have to end up murdered" as a result of a dangerous dating situation, says Weisberg. "There are a lot of warning signs -- obsession with the person, wanting complete control …" This play, she concludes, "is a very valuable educational tool."
See tips and tools about teen dating violence at the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
-- and support its other efforts while you're there.
Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Debra Sciranka, Dotty Weisberg, Prime Stage Theatre