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Bullycide Project Goes From Fenton to CBS

Local group to be featured on 48 Hours special on bullying Friday night.

The and many other schools.

Now the play, created by Fenton Theatre Teacher Lori Thompson and performed by local actors with her group the Trust Theater Ensemble, will appear on a much bigger stage.

48 Hours on CBS.

Parts of an East Lansing performance of the Bullycide Project will be featured on the CBS special, “Bullying: Words CAN Kill,” Friday at 8 p.m.

“I felt it would put itself out there and get attention, but I never realize the amount of attention it would receive,” Thompson said.

She added that it will be emotional to watch the special, which will include interviews with parents who have lost children and children who have been bullied, but Thompson said nothing will likely be as emotional as the night the special was filmed at the Wharton Center in East Lansing. She said the 48 Hours executive producer and the film crew was there. Also, in the front row were many of the parents of the children from which the show was based.

“It was very surreal,” Thompson said. “When the night was done, we felt every emotion there was. We felt what it was to be alive and what it is to mourn a death.”

Two of those parents were  Lansing residents Kevin and Tammy Epling, who lost their son Matt to bullying in 2002, who will  be interviewed on the program, the Lansing State Journal reports.

"The correspondent and crew were blown away (by) what they had seen. The correspondent was in tears throughout the performance," Kevin Epling told the Lansing State Journal about the CBS crew at the Wharton Performance. "The video guy said he had seen a lot of stuff, but he had never seen anything this powerful."

You can view a preview of the show on the CBS Website.

Thompson said many of the parents have been more than cooperative and have been eager to try and help others.

“They appreciate the opportunity in a weird kind of way  for their son’s or daughter’s voice to be heard again,” Thompson said.

The ball began rolling towards CBS after a performance at the Mott Children’s Health Center. Thompson said two parents, who had lost a child to bullying, had invited a 48 Hours official, who was working on the bullying program, to the show.

Earlier this year, Fenton Patch reported that the Fenton-based Trust Theatre Ensemble has been performing The Bullycide Project, a play 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 told Fenton Patch the entire Bullycide cast conducted extensive research to make sure they included intimate details to add to each individual story from the book.

Thompson and many of the cast members  traveled to interview family members, teachers, and friends of the individuals portrayed in 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.

"It is definitely very emotional and humbling. Those are the only words I can think of."

Thompson said the project and the process has been "extraordinary."

Paige Lange, 20, of Fenton, plays the role of a bully in the show and said it has been the most difficult thing she has ever done.

"It's exciting to be part of something to make a difference. It's humbling to take tragic event and use it for good," she said. "It's something I never expected it’s a huge thing. It's a blessing to get that message further out there."

Upcoming performances

The group will also perform the show at a bullying summit in Washington D.C. on Sept. 21 and 22. You can catch the Bullycide Project locally 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the at Flint Youth Theatre, 1220 East Kearsley St. in Flint. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the box office, at the door, or by calling 810-237-1530.

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