Backstage Pass Newsletter | November 2019


Finding that Friendly Dragon

Thoughts from Executive Artistic Director, Nina Meehan
Reposted with permission from the Piedmont Post

In Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s latest production, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the main character, Minli, chooses to leave her family to go on an epic journey to improve their fortune. Along the way, she encounters magic, battles tigers, and uses her wits to create a bridge to her destination—the lofty abode of the Old Man in the Moon. But she doesn’t do these things alone. She makes friends with a dragon who becomes what we would now call her “BFF.”

When I think about my kids navigating the world that is elementary school--middle school, now, for my oldest—I wish they could have a dragon . . . a friend so loyal that nothing, not even a giant green tiger, can tear them apart. Because, let’s be honest, growing up is hard. School is hard. And everything feels better with a buddy. But, what about those kids who are going it alone? Who don’t have a BFF in tow? How can we as a community support those kids? Help them feel a part of things? Give them the safety net that each of us craves?

As depression rates among teens and young adults soar, it is critical to foster spaces for young people that are filled with acceptance. Because, unfortunately, even those kids who have found their “dragon” sometimes find themselves on their own. Minli must complete her journey to the Old Man in the Moon by herself; Dragon can’t go on the magic bridge. But Minli has built up the strength to venture on alone, knowing that she has friends and family waiting for her to return.

A theatre class can become a haven where a child knows that there are friends waiting…even if it’s just once a week. When we ask the kids who take our classes, “Why do you come to BACT?” they often describe the rehearsals as a safe place where they can be themselves or a place where they won’t be judged for being unique or different.

Spaces like these, where kids can truly celebrate their differences and see their uniqueness as an asset rather than a fault, are rare indeed. So, what to do? In the musical, Dragon is ostracized and shunned, because she is different, but Minli can see past that and helps others see that there is no reason to be afraid of difference. As our children form new friendships, can we encourage them to look around for those who don’t have a buddy on their journey and reach out a hand? And, if you have a child who is struggling with feeling different or not knowing “who their people are,” consider a theatre class. Your child might just find their tribe…or their dragon.

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