In an effort to help today's K-5 students develop the resiliency and coping strategies needed to deal with bullying at school, and learn how to manage stressful and pressure-filled situations, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's Education program will be touring Bay Area schools with its award-winning shows Oskar and the Big Bully Battle, and Oskar and the Last Straw. The Oskar tour runs February 25 to April 5, 2019 with performances scheduled in the South Bay, Peninsula, East Bay, and San Francisco (see tour location list below for specific schools). To contact TheatreWorks Education about scheduling an assembly, schools may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650-463-7154.
Oskar and his friends are back to teach students the skills for handling the epidemic of bullying that occurs in schools every day. Oskar and the Big Bully Battle illustrates how a small schoolyard scuffle can escalate out of control as three elementary students become entangled in a tale about victims and bullies.
In response to growing concerns about the damaging and potentially fatal consequences of bullying in schools, Oskar and the Big Bully Battle was commissioned by the Palo Alto Unified School District and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Written by award-winning playwright Prince Gomolvilas, the show is designed to give K-5 students the tools needed to recognize the most common types of bullying (including cyber bullying) and to learn the difference between being a "BYstander" and an "UPstander," allowing kids to not only rebuff bullying, but strive to eliminate it from the schoolyard.
While the show deals with its subject in a humorous fashion, it offers serious solutions for dealing with bullying. "Oskar helps instill awareness in the K-5 grader, so that as they move into those difficult middle school years, they are prepared," says TheatreWorks Associate Director of Education, Katie Bartholomew. "Although it takes a fun and lighthearted approach, this show gives kids a real understanding of what bullying is, and how they might even be taking part, without realizing it."
In Oskar and the Last Straw, 10-year-old Oskar faces an overwhelming amount of schoolwork, extracurricular activities, social events, and pressure from all around him. As his backpack gets fuller and voices from the outside world get louder, Oskar can't help but feel like he can't handle any of it. This comic show encourages kids to understand when they're down, recognize their personal power, speak up about concerns, seek help from adults, and other coping skills.
Oskar and the Last Straw was originally commissioned, developed, and produced by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. It was written by Prince Gomolvilas, and now tours in both California and Texas. TheatreWorks Director of Education Lisa Edsall Giglio directs this year's productions of Oskar and the Last Straw, and Oskar and the Big Bully Battle.
This year's Oskar tour includes three local actors ready to tell the story of Oskar and his friends. Filip Hofman will play the beloved 10-year-old Oskar. He has also performed with California Shakespeare Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Los Altos Stage Company, Silicon Valley Shakespeare, and Role Players Ensemble.
Playing the roles of friends, classmates, teachers, and more are Vivian Marino and Jomar Martinez. Marino has performed with Throckmorton Theatre, 23 Elephants Theatre Company, and Conservatory Theatre Ensemble. Martinez most recently played Tom Maruyama in the Bay Area premiere of Allegiance at Contra Costa Civic Theatre and has been seen on stages across the Bay Area, including San Jose Repertory Theatre, City Lights Theater Company, Foothill Music Theatre, and Palo Alto Players.
Reaching 20,000 students each year, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's education programs include in-school classes that focus on theatre-based arts integration and playwriting, popular summer camps, and the Children's Healing Project, a theatre-based therapeutic arts education program serving hospitalized children and their families with drama workshops and bedside visits at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, El Camino Eating Disorders Unit, and the Ronald MacDonald House. TheatreWorks also enjoys a partnership with the Palo Alto Unified School District, the Kennedy Center of Washington, D.C., and Stanford Live for teaching and learning.
With some 100,000 patrons per year, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has captured a national reputation for artistic innovation and integrity, often presenting Bay Area theatregoers with their first look at acclaimed musicals, comedies, and dramas, directed by award-winning local and guest directors, and performed by professional actors cast locally and from across the country.
Photo credit: Mark N. Kitaoka