Play to combat suicide and other teen problems staged in Saipan

By Lori Lyn Lirio

The cast of the “Choices.” Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

“CHOICES”, an improvisation-based play, which recently took center stage at the American Memorial Park, was touching, timely and moving, according to Friends of the Art president Susan Fishman-Tudor.

Fishman-Tudor went to see the play on its first night of showing last June 8. She said the characterization and the [plot] element felt very real.

Directed by Barbara Sher, “Choices” highlighted various teen relationship issues –with their parents; teachers; relationship with their boyfriend or girlfriend; and their surrounding or culture.

“What’s good about the play is they offer situations and they have resolutions. That was a good thing – being able to know that they have choices. It reminds everybody when you get stuck in your own little though process – the cycle of anxiety – you have choices,” Fishman-Tudor said, adding the acting was wonderful.

Ken Kroot, FOA member, said the play was hard to watch actually.

“It is difficult to watch because they are portraying people in pain.”

Sher said the play was not scripted.

“The dialogue is very real because it is the kids’ and their problems.”

She said some of the actors do not have the first-hand experience on the scenario they acted on, “you will see the glimpse of what they feel about the certain negative situation because they see it happen to their friends and someone they know.”

One of the actors, Chenoa Bunts-Anderson, said they have to dig really deep to portray the characters.

Choices presented teen relationship issues, including students performance in school and relationship with teacher/s. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

“We didn’t write the script. We were really honest [with the dialogue]. Some people brought their personal issues in the play. It is very personal to deal with the issue and you want to bring justice to it,” Bunts-Anderson said.

Tifanny Cayading, who played a daughter who has dysfunctional family, said her real life was far from the character she played, but she got inspiration “through reading stories of other people who talk about their families.”

Kelvin Wolf, who played a jealous and insecure boyfriend, admitted he has not experience in relationship problem. He said, what he presented was input from everybody involved in the play.

“We all come together to give us the idea to create every scenes.”

For Emma Timmons, the most challenging situations a teenager has to deal with are pressure from society and family.

“I think that is where a lot of teen problems come from and that is where a lot of trouble begins,” she said, adding these are not easy to discuss with.

But Timmons reminded that everybody has choices.

“The biggest thing we did was talking. It is easier from stage. But in real life, communicating is one of the best ways to work things out and if you keep everything bottled up, eventually it will overwhelm you and you have to let it out. You have to talk to somebody.”

As for the play, Seranicia Amirez said the improve-based play was both challenging and convenient.

“It is a challenge to keep it going [the dialogue], but because it is improv you have more freedom how far you should go and how far you should take it.”

All actors – Seranicia Amirez, Chenoa Bunts-Anderson, Tifanny Cayading, Ainah Chargualaf, Jodie Gottwald, Esther Huh, Jerrid Igisaiar, Marielle Sambilay, Emma Timmons and KelvinWolf – are all students of Marianas High School.

“Choices” is sponsored by the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program, under the Community Guidance Center, which focuses on supporting life among CNMI youth who have may attempted suicide or have or are currently having suicidal ideation by providing.

The GLS Youth Suicide Prevention Program’s mission is to reduce incidence of suicide behaviors among CNMI youth and young adults and increase access to appropriate prevention and intervention services through counseling and teaching coping skills to the youth and their families.

This program is located in the Alexander Building on Beach Road, Oleai.

For more information, please contact the GLS Youth Suicide Prevention Program by calling 664-LIVE, 664-LOVE, or 664-HOPE.


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