The Pittsburg High School Repertory Theatre Class, in cooperation with Memorial Auditorium in Pittsburg, will produce the world premiere of Invitation Only: An Examination of Party Culture and Peer Pressure April 24-26 with performances for the public, for the PHS student body, and for area schools.
It’s the 11th social issue play written especially for PHS Rep Theatre by nationally-known playwright Debbie Lamedman in collaboration with the class, which is directed by Greg Shaw.
As has been the case each year, students spent several weeks developing and editing the first draft of the script to create a polished final product. Students also spent two weeks researching the topic and learning more about the problems within party culture, using the script to address drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual consent.
Past productions have focused on topics such as bullying, global warming, dating violence, suicide, diversity, mental illness, and prescription drug use. These shows have been performed at no charge for not only the high school student body (and occasionally the middle school), but also for more than 13,000 students from schools throughout Southeast Kansas.
Shaw said the plays have supported the goal of PHS to improve the school climate by helping students make safer and healthier choices, and fostering academic and social engagement. He has been recognized for the plays with the KNEA Human and Civil Rights Award and Character Education Partnership's National Award for Promising Practices — awards he said he shares with his students and administrators.
Shaw says the cast of each show makes a point to get across to audiences that they aren’t experts — they’ve just become knowledgeable.
“We’re starting a conversation," he said. "That’s the whole objective of the entire thing. We just want to elicit a response.”
This year’s performance for local schools will take place on April 26 with a 9:30 a.m. start time. The production will be approximately 50 minutes long and is appropriate for students in grades 9-12.
The plot: rebellious teenager Theo decides to throw a party when given the opportunity to use his aunt’s house unsupervised for the weekend. His friends Max, Henry, and Jack, and his girlfriend, Sophie, provide drugs and alcohol. Meanwhile, Grace, Ella, and Alice face peer pressure from their friend, Sydney. The story focuses on the challenges of dealing with peer pressure in a high-pressure social setting.
Immediately after the production, there will be a talkback session in which the audience and the cast will have the opportunity to engage in a discussion about the events and problems depicted within the play.
There also will be a public performance on Wednesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. On Thursday, April 25, there will be two performances for PHS — one at 9:30 a.m. for female students, and one at 1 p.m. for male students.
Teachers who wish to sign up to bring classes should call the Memorial Auditorium box office at 620-231-7827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.