Opener explores timely issues

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BRATTLEBORO — When it matters most, we all think we would do the right thing. But when it comes down to it, do we really have what it takes?

New England Youth Theatre's season-opening production "The Hundred Dresses" is examining what being an ally really means, exploring issues such as xenophobia, bullying and forgiveness. Based on the award-winning book by Eleanor Estes and written by Mary Hall Surface, "The Hundred Dresses" is the kickoff show for NEYT's Mainstage 2020 season, playing March 6-14 at 100 Flat St. in downtown Brattleboro.

The story follows Wanda Petronski, a young girl who simply wants to have fun and make friends, just like every other child. But in 1930's small town America, a Polish immigrant doesn't easily fit in.

"This play is important because awareness of bullying needs to be raised. There are also different kinds of bullying. Bullying someone because of racial stereotypes is something that needs to be addressed more often, especially in this country," Sydney Quinn Chute, a young NEYT actor, said of the play's meaning.

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"You have to have compassion for everyone. You have to know you are not alone," added Kahlyn White, another "Hundred Dresses" participant.

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"Theatre is by its very nature collaborative and inclusive, everybody matters and everybody has an important job to do," said director Rebecca Waxman. "The stories we tell are about how to really see other people, people that you might not normally look at or listen to. Always, and especially now, in such a divisive culture, telling a story about empathy and being an ally feels right," she said.

"It is paramount that we do a story about making room for all kinds of people, including those who don't feel included. I think it will really resonate with any human," Waxman said.

NEYT has set goals around performing works that really ally with the world and address today's issues. Theatre is not about making art for art's sake, but rather about making art for the sake of the world; creating a space for people to come together, to stay curious and become involved.

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"The Hundred Dresses" will be performed March 6-7 and March 13 and 14 at 7 p.m, with additional shows March 7 and 14 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for children. Tickets may be purchased in advance at neyt.org, in person at the box office from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, or by phone at 802-246-6398.

This show was made possible through generous support from Prentiss Smith and Co. NEYT is also supported by the Vermont Children's Trust Fund, Vermont Arts Council and the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation.


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