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The Student News Site of Fort Collins High School

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@fchsspilledink: The Lambkin cross country team raced at FCHS this morning against other local schools. Both the boys and girls placed third.

Theater productions start important conversations

In their roles as Veronica Sawyer and Jason Dean, seniors Kate Vanatta and Eddie Tyler discuss the results of their actions. “Heathers” is one of three shows Tower Theater put on this season to raise awareness of controversial topics. Photo courtesy of Cheri Schonfeld

In recent years, social change through theater has become huge. It is amazing that we are able to bring something so crucial and important to mainstream attention through something as popular and potentially influencing as theater, and do it successfully too. This year, FCHS Tower Theater aimed to break the stigma around three difficult and very real issues that affect the daily lives of thousands: homophobia, antisemitism, and suicide.

The season began with the musical “The Prom,” which follows four Broadway actors who travel to the conservative town of Edgewater, Indiana, to challenge homophobic and prejudiced views held by the town. The members of Tower Theater believed it was essential to highlight the hate that the LGTBQIA+ community deals with, and through this show, they did just that. Although strides have been made toward equal rights, discussing and confronting hate is necessary to have a world without it.

The second production of the year, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” tackled Jewish hate in America. It follows Eugene Morris, a teen dealing with life’s changes while facing antisemitism. The show, attracting a large audience, provided a relatable and hopeful narrative for Jewish individuals facing daily hate. 

Closing the season, the McNeal production of “Heathers,” based on the 1989 cult classic, presented complex challenges. The plot is simple but controversial: delinquent high school “bad boy” and his girlfriend kill the popular kids, passing the murders off as suicides.

Given the sensitive topic, the theater provided workshops and pamphlets offering mental health resources to the cast and crew.

We had one of our mental health specialists come to sit in with the cast on several different occasions just to take the temperature, see how people are doing, make sure that a face and a name is recognized by them,” Tower Theater Director Jason Tyler said.

Tyler and Tower Theater went into the 2023-2024 season with the intent to bring visibility to relevant but controversial issues, and the hope that these shows might begin important conversations. 

“Theater can entertain and it can inspire people, but it can also have audiences leave your house saying, ‘Oh, I kind of want to talk about this with friends, family, whatever,’” Tyler explained. “And we may never know it, but if there was even a single person who got a flier or a magnet or something from one of those tables and that helped them to get help when they needed it, then that is worth every single hour we spent doing the show.”

It is incredibly important to talk about topics like hate and mental health, and bringing them into the mainstream can help future generations to be more open and real when it comes to talking about issues—such as mental health struggles—that were previously taboo. Tower Theater and other theater programs all over the world are doing their part to make the world a better place, one scene at a time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, call 988, the national suicide hotline, or text 741741, the crisis hotline.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homophobia, call Safe2Tell at 1-877-542-7233, or text S2TCO to 738477. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing antisemitism, call Safe2Tell at 1-877-542-7233, or text S2TCO to 738477, or call the Anti-Defamation League at 212-885-7700.

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About the Contributor
Cara O'Connor
Cara O'Connor, Staff Writer
Cara O’Connor is a sophomore at Collins and is eager to continue writing for Spilled Ink. Previously, she had a column entitled “Reboot, Reuse, Recycle” which ran for four installments. Cara loves writing and came into the Spilled Ink 23-24 season on her knees begging to enlighten the world with her sweet sweet syntax. Luckily, the staff felt guilty enough to let this poor sinner join. When she’s not in her chamber laughing too hard at her own jokes, Cara enjoys reading, loitering, watching the Brooklyn Nets lose, the angelic music of The Weeknd, and fangirling over BTS.

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