‘Outsiders’ sends message worth hearing

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What an amazing time of year spring is! Nature sheds winter’s ugly skin and shows herself new and beautiful! We are also affected by this time of renewal. Spring is the time for “spring cleaning” and “spring fever.” We begin our lives anew each spring, believing that all things are possible. The Jefferson Street Youth have chosen a play for this year’s dinner theater that takes on the theme of shedding the old and beginning anew.

“The Outsiders,” a play based on the book by S.E. Hinton, stars Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers, Sodapop and Darry, who belong to a group of poor teenage boys called greasers.

Many of them have led hard lives already, and they are tough, angry and unforgiving. They often fight with the Socs, the group of wealthy, privileged boys who beat them up for fun. Ponyboy is shy and quiet. He gets good grades and likes to draw and read. His oldest brother Darry takes care of the family, since their parents died in a car crash. He is very serious, works most of the time, and is very hard on Ponyboy. Soda, the middle brother, is happy most of the time, and is very handsome and likable. The family often gets into fights over Ponyboy’s future.

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These are kids who are easy to stereotype. They are greasy and tough. Their clothes are tattered and worn. They swagger through their days glaring at the humanity around them.

The public eyes them with mistrust simply because they look different, act different, are different. They are in danger because the public perceives them to be a danger. How this resonates in our society today!

The three brothers and their friends struggle with misunderstandings. They are victims of prejudice and hate. Because of their treatment at the hands of the Socs, they hate and mistrust all others who are different from them. It is only through great tragedy that they learn that stereotypes hurt everyone and new friendships can break the cycle of hate.

Certainly, we have come a long way since the 1960s when this book was written, but we are still plagued by stereotyping and prejudice. Perhaps we should take some time in this season of renewal to consider the shared humanity of those around us.

We can start the process by attending Jefferson Street Youth’s performance of “The Outsiders.”

The play is a showcase of local youth talent. Cast members include Martin Charboneau, Avery Middleton, Matthew Golden, Russell Goodman, Stewart Benoit, Semmes White, Sydney Eidt and Trey Hand. The production is staged and managed solely by the youth of the church.

Performances will be at 6 p.m. today and Thursday and at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available through members of Jefferson Street Youth or at the door on the nights of the show.

Adults tickets are $15, Student tickets are $12, and children’s tickets are $5. Nursery will be provided and dinner is included in the price of the tickets.

Linda Rodriguez is a Jefferson Street United Methodist Church member.