Greenfield theater show brings audience into teenagers’ daily lives

By MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-15-2023 1:26 PM

GREENFIELD — Over weeks of collecting stories and experiences of teens in a local theater group, one issue seemed to resonate with students more than others: gun violence.

“One day, the majority of the group came to rehearsal after there had been a lockdown at their high school following a fake school shooting threat,” said Piti Theatre Co. Artistic Director Jonathan Mirin, referring to a swatting incident that took place in March at Greenfield High School. “Talking about what had happened and the level of stress created by gun violence in American schools led to their wanting to incorporate that experience into the show.”

After months of rehearsals, Valley Playwright Mentoring, a Piti Theatre program for teens, will present “A Day in Our Lives,” a performance depicting a 24-hour period in the life of a teenager, building up to that moment on that day in March. The show is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center.

“Everyone ... was very shaken,” Mirin recalled of the night following the lockdown. “It kind of gave me a glimpse of just how frightening it is to be a student. Even for kids who have not had these experiences, it’s very troubling.”

The show consists of a series of connected scenes that give a sense of their lives at home and school.

“The majority of the show is the other 22 hours of a day in their lives,” he said. There will also be moments with family at home and in theater class at school, for example.

The nine-person ensemble is made up of students from Greenfield High School, Pioneer Valley Regional School, Four Rivers Charter Public School and The Academy at Charlemont. The performance will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a reception.

“This is to give young people a sense of being able to get some mastery and agency with difficult or challenging experiences through theater,” Mirin said. “It’s not a therapy program, but it is therapeutic.”

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There will also be a reading of new scenes from the online Valley Playwright Mentoring group that will later become podcasts with full sound design. Scenes address topics like family conflict, The Willow Project (global warming), school shootings, bullying, and the comedy of everyday life at home and school.

Admission is free, but reservations are recommended at ptco.org/vpm.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.

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