Everybody talks about what's wrong with public schools—violence, drugs, inadequate staffing—but how many people are doing anything about it? And if they are, are they reaching the kids or just talking down to them? One theatre company that is honestly speaking to kids in their own language is Shadow Theatre Company.
According to Jeffrey Nickelson, Executive and Artistic Director of the company, their current production of Not Here is "designed to promote dialogue and healing." Specifically, the production depicts realistic scenarios involving gangs, drugs, parents and prejudice from the perspective of the youths that face these challenges.
As director, Nickelson does yeoman's work mixing experienced professional talent and young actors, drawing out a number of fine performances. Particularly poignant is Laura Norman's Kim, a homeless teenager, whose openness is so disarming it's transcendental.
Doug Kaback, the playwright, has spent years using theatre as a vehicle for teenage and minority expression, and while the quality of his script varies from hyper-realism to cliché and from enthralling to obvious, Not Here is nevertheless an honest and moving account of the struggles of our youth that ought to be seen by every parent and adolescent in our country. The use of a gospel choir, The Spirituals Project Ensemble, between scenes is especially cathartic.
Shadow Theatre Company's production of Not Here runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through October 20th at the Ralph Waldo Emerson Center, at 14th and Ogden. 303-837-9355.