Fenton Actress Shares Emotion of Playing a Bully
Paige Lange broke down in tears more than once while performing in the Bullycide Project.
Paige Lange dreaded the moment.
The 20-year-old Fenton resident dreaded the reaction. And she dreaded the words, but she said them anyway.
“I’m not the one who pulled the trigger, you are.”
Lange is not a bully, but she plays one on stage.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.
The 20-year-old Fenton resident plays the role as part of the Bullycide Project, a play performed by the Fenton-based Trust Theatre Ensemble put together by Fenton High School theater teacher Lori Thompson.
Some of the group’s performance will be featured on CBS in a 48 Hours special, “Bullying: Words CAN Kill,” at 8 p.m. Friday.
Lange said she is proud to be “part of something that makes a difference,” but looking back, she doesn’t believe she would have accepted the role of the bully.
“It’s very difficult. If it was laid out before, I would have not chose it, but it’s necessary role,” she said. “There are kids out there like the role I play.”
She said she cringes at most everything she has to say during the performance, but said one night was extremely emotional.
Lange had to read a monologue that coincided with a monologue by an actor playing Alex Harrison, a Michigan teen who committed suicide in 2009 as a result of bullying.
She had to speak several mean-spirited words including “I’m not the one who pulled the trigger, you are.”
Tough by itself, right?
Lange had to do it, however, as Harrison’s family, with whom she had grown close, sat just three feet away.
“I had to be the bully that had lost all empathy and didn’t care. I had to say it was his own fault,” she said. “I had seen the parents sob and I wanted to sob. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done.”
Lange said she broke down during rehearsal when they tried to take the scene to the next level.
“It’s not something we like talking about, but talking about bullycide is necessary,” she said.
The Bullycide Project is based on the book Bullycide in America, by Brenda High, which tells the story of 12 young adults who chose to end their lives because of bullying.
Thompson said the entire Bullycide cast conducted extensive research to make sure they included intimate details to add to each individual story from the book.
"The parents allowed us to take their personal journals and incorporate lines from them right into the script, and that's how most of it was written," Thompson said.
Lange said that was a humbling experience.
“We sat in their homes, with these amazing, amazing people and to see how great of parents they were is amazing to me. They are still fighting,” she said.
“We never got chance to know the kids, but they became part of our lives. We try to bring the kids back to life as much as we can for 45 minutes.”