Coral Gables

Students’ show details difficult issues characters face

MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Get ready to see hate, bloodshed and shame unravel on a stage.

The Holocaust Impact Theatre, a production group composed of high school students, will debut a play, Parallels, that illustrates bigotry, ethnic profiling, racial profiling, gay rights, bullying and religious differences in today’s world.

“I think it’s a badly needed project, unfortunately, because there’s so much hate and bigotry in society today,” said Ruth Gordon, who oversees the students. “The idea is that the Holocaust is issued as a baseline for hate crimes in modern history.”

Every year, the group holds countywide auditions, open to any high school student in Miami-Dade. This year, the production turned away 451 students — as only 19 were selected to be actors. About 50 to 60 students auditioned to be on the writing team and 15 were picked. They decided to use the Holocaust to make an impact on the need for acceptance and diversity today.

“They write the show, they produce it, they direct it, everything,” she said. “I hope people walk out of the show thinking of their everyday actions toward other people. Most of the kids that write the pieces, they write it from their heart, because it is an issue that they are dealing with.”

But most of these kids aren’t future actors at all. For most of them, it’s actually their first time on stage.

Andreas Sarge, 16, is a writer for the play. Last year, he tried out as an actor but didn’t get in. This year, he made it on the writing team, something he calls “pure bliss.” He said being able to put what he feels on paper is an “escape.”

“My best friend is bisexual and faces a lot of criticism. I’m always there to support her. I wanted to create something that can bring awareness,” Andreas said. “I have another friend who is an immigrant with illegal status, nobody knows. She is now facing a lot of problems with college applications.”

Andreas said he hopes to be on the directing team next year.

“It makes me happy to see my generation do something more than texting, going on Facebook or Instagram for that matter,” he said.

Emily Bortnik, 18, has been involved since she was a freshman. She is now a senior at Coral Reef Senior High and is the show’s director.

She said the students wanted all the different story lines, comprised of several vignettes, in the play to be “more relatable, with dialogue that you would hear every day.”

The play tells the stories of characters that navigate lives filled with racism, homophobia, xenophobia and domstic abuse.

“Every year each play targets stories about overcoming adversity, bullying, stereotypes and brings awareness to all these injustices that go on,” she said. “People think they don’t exist anymore but they’re in our daily lives.”

Follow @MoniqueOMadan on Twitter; @MoniqueOMadanMH on Facebook.

If you go

What: ‘Parallels’ of Holocaust Impact Theatre, a production produced by high school students in Miami-Dade County.

When: 7 p.m. March 5-7 and 5 p.m. March 8 at the Area Stage Company, 1560 S. Dixie Hwy., Coral Gables

Cost: Tickets are $8.

The show is not recommended for students in elementary school due to mature topics and rough language. For tickets visit stagecompany.com.

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