The Kama-Sahlor Performing Arts Group tackled the issue of bullying with a youth play, “Snow Black” at the Parkway NW High School for Peace and Social Justice on Friday evening.
Written by Playwright and Director Lisa Y. Hopkins, “Snow Black,” was a modern, culturally relevant retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” featuring an all-Black cast and an infusion of Soul, Funk and Hip-Hop music and dance.
“This story was written to address the ills of bullying that can lead to developing low self esteem and clinical depression. We provided a project that focused on the urban Hip-Hop culture and the African-American children in the community who have been victims from the pains from bullying,” said Hopkins. “The Kama- Sahlor Group utilizes art to save lives, to bring awareness [and] to hopefully prevent this social disorder to coming to a head.”
The play centered on the story of Snow B who is kicked out of the family’s home by her envious stepmother, Queenella. Snow B is then sheltered by her long lost, newly found eccentric brothers and sisters but still ends up being poisoned by the evil stepmother, and then rescued from a long sleep by her love interest, the prince.
Although presenting familiar entertainment content, this particular production was real for the youth who participated because the bullying piece hit close to home for several of them. For some, it was personal, for others it was an issue that impacted their loved ones.
“If you’re bullied, don’t do anything to harm yourself because there’s always someone that loves you,” said Kaya Moore, who played the role of Snow B. Moore said one of her close friends left school to attend another “because people bullied her over dumb things.”
Another student, Ne’Vaeh Tyler, 11, who played the role of the paramedic, has had a firsthand experience with bullying.
Granted a scholarship by Mr. Fidel Moore of The Men’s Gathering, a men’s natural healing and wellness group; and the Natural Woman’s Group, also a natural wellness group, in honor of her late great-aunt, Leila, to be part of the play, this was Tyler’s first time ever participating in such an event, no less one that dealt with some of her own personal struggles.
“I remember I did get bullied once when I was in third grade - I was punched in the stomach, I had a brick thrown at my head,” she said. “In fourth and fifth grade, I tried to kill myself.” Tyler’s grandmother, Blonddeal Tyler, who attended the play, said Ne’Vaeh now sees a therapist and is in the healing process, part of which took place with the production of Snow B.
“She [walked] in with a wall up, so she started bullying the kids there and didn’t want to listen,” said Blonddeal. “I had a little talk with Ne’Vaeh. I made her write a letter to every person she offended and made her apologize. After that, they didn’t have any problems with her. Now, she wants to be a part of the next one.”
Ne’Vaeh added that aside from the lessons learned in the production of play, mainly the importance of practice and that she could get over her “stage fright,” she realized how to be a better person.
“I did almost get kicked out,” she said. “I had to write four letters to four people. They forgave me. I’ll never bully people again. I [learned] to help people that’s getting bullied and try to help them with any situations.”
Evan McDonald, 12, who played the role of the prince, said although he has never been impacted by bullying, he gained some insight from his role.
“There’s a lot of kid that are suicidal, this is to help those that are depressed,” he said. “I learned that everybody is different. You can be cool in your own way.”