Play examines effects of bullying

Parents can learn a lot from watching this play with their children.



Although bullying has always existed, its effect on children has only begun to be examined in recent years.

“Night Light,” opening Saturday at the Youngstown Playhouse as part of the Small Fry series, addresses the issue.

The play, by John Lazarus, focuses on three children who deal with different forms of bullying and fears.

Farley feels pressure from his father to do well in school, so he in turn bullies Victor into doing his homework. Tara, Victor’s sister, is overwhelmed by fears about their father’s upcoming surgery. Her fear manifests itself in the form of an imaginary monster. The play ends realistically, with some of the problems resolved, and some in the process of achieving resolution.

Patricia Fagan is the director. She said she has been waiting nearly 20 years to produce “Night Light.”

She read the script in 1988 and realized its importance, but the opportunity to stage it never arose. The Playhouse’s Small Fry series, which addresses issues that schools don’t necessarily want to get into, is the perfect vehicle for the show, said Fagan.

“Night Light” will be staged in the Moyer Room of the Playhouse with the audience sitting close to the action, providing an intimate setting to present the sensitive material.

After the show, the cast, along with Cheryl Asente of Girard, a licensed professional social worker, will host a forum to discuss the issues seen in the play. She is the mother of Joey Asente, who plays Victor in the play.

Fagan said she hopes parents will watch the show with their children. She wants them to get an understanding of what their children experience, and to play an active role in their decision making processes.

“Kids often feel powerless,” Fagan said. “We hope to show them that they can empower themselves.”

Fagan said the play is suitable for children in grades 1 through 6.

Alana Carkido, of McDonald, makes her Playhouse debut as Tara, Victor’s sister. The bully, Farley, and the monster are played by siblings Matt and Lindsay Stevens of Canfield. Taylor Barber of Liberty serves as stage manager for the production.

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