Getting Ready for the Names that Hurt

Students rehearse for The Names that Hurt.

Students rehearse for The Names that Hurt.

Every year since 2002, the sophomore drama class puts on a performance that calls attention to the bullying and peer victimization we encounter every day. The Names That Hurt is a piece that every student in Frank Sinatra encounters at one point, particularly close to when they’re first accepted to the school. It is a piece that reflects on the lives of others and themselves.

Every freshmen at Frank Sinatra is required to watch the Sophomore Drama majors performance of The Names That Hurt and it always is presented within the first two to three months of school. The Names That Hurt is a powerful piece of writing that the sophomore drama students create to share the affects of bullying, including their own personal experiences of peer victimization and bullying.

Frank Sinatra School of the Arts is the only school that does the performance of The Names that Hurt in order to raise awareness of bullying especially for the incoming freshmen who may not know exactly what Frank Sinatra is all about.

“The great thing about The Names That Hurt is that every year, we let the students add pieces to it, which are their own stories of bullying and peer victimization, so the script will change based on the stories of the cast members themselves,” Mr. Cacciola-Price states.

The process remains similar in terms of its construction year-to-year, the students certainly rely on some of the same tactics that they’ve used in the past, just because there’s a lot of elements of Bertolt Brecht that Mr. Cacciola-Price uses in the directing events such as the chorus work and then adding moments of unison to whoever is doing the monologue to create emphasis on certain key phrases. Bertolt Brecht’s style of writing and performing focuses on connecting to the audience, making the viewer think about the message shown in the drama rather than rather than focusing on the actor’s personal story/ identity. However, this year for the first time, Mr. Cacciola-Price has made the bold decision to stray a little bit away from the prologue and epilogue that’s always been a part of the show.

“We’re adding a freak show element which will serve as the prologue piece. There is an MC character that comes out and introduces the freaks in the freak show,” explained Mr. Cacciola-Price.

Although unlike performers commonly seen freak shows the performers in The Names That Hurt are not humans with unusual appearances, the show exhibits the freaks as names they hear/ are called every day, such as faggot, bitch, gay, tranny and so on.

A new focus this year is on a different type of disability, Skyler Jeffries, a sophomore drama major speaks about OCD and depression which has never really been spoken about or even brought attention to in The Names That Hurt before.

“I’ve been bullied a lot. I went to Catholic school and I had to leave that school and go to public school because of overwhelming stress and bullying. So it was a lot that was put on me to perform this monologue about herself in her first show at this school,” Skylar said.

Skylar, doesn’t go into full detail about what is specifically said to her while being victimized, because she doesn’t want to make it obvious of who she was bullied by and create an issue with any other students who believe that this is about what they have said to Skylar in the past. Her piece really keys into herself and how she dealt with peer victimization to stray away from perceived snitching.

Another new topic that has been added this year is a section dedicated to LGBT.  Two students’ present monologues about this movement and what it means to them, Samantha Lopez, and Thomas Jenkeleit. Samantha’s piece is mostly about her experience in middle school and being bullied for dating a girl. Then it progresses into Samantha’s personal thought process and feelings as she went through the harassment from kids at school and her parents being very anti-gay at home.

“It was hard, really hard opening up to my peers about this topic. I’m still not totally comfortable with it. I don’t really label myself.  I mean, “bi” is okay I guess, but I’m still in the process of getting to know myself. People like to put you in boxes so they can understand you and that’s hard when you don’t know where you fall,” she said.

This piece is written and staged as if Samantha is speaking to a therapist about her place in society.

The MC of The Names That Hurt, Jalil Robinson, believes this is an amazing role that he was given by Mr. Cacciola-Price, indeed it was one of the first roles that Mr. Cacciola-Price had to cast, so Jalil saw it as an honor, especially because he was an incoming sophomore and he didn’t specifically know where he stood in the class acting wise.

“Coming in I was really nervous, because everyone had experience from freshman year,” Jalil said. “Which made me feel like I had something to prove, then when  Mr. Cacciola-Price casted me as the MC who opens and closes the show, I began to feel very anxious because I wanted to be great, I wanted him to look at me and say ‘I gave you this role for a reason, you have it, now perform.’ And yes I know, coming in this year I’m new to this, everyone else has experience so I’m taking it a step at a time, but I feel like I’m learning pretty fast and my peers have been helping me a lot, which has made this a really great experience for me.”

Skylar Jeffries, Jalil Robinson, and Samantha Lopez, all can agree that even though they are sharing these personal stories of peer victimization against themselves, they would have never noticed how often they use the words themselves in their own daily lives.

“After rehearsing our pieces over and over, I actually got a chance to sit back and really comprehend what these words meant and before I would use them in a sense of endearment like “Yo my Nigga, what’s up?” but now when I look back at it people could have been really torn down by this word so why should I feel okay to use it, I could really hurt people, so this process really changed my perspective on things and the way I use certain words,” Jalil said.

Skylar spoke specifically about how other people use these words, as Jalil did and adds that a lots of the words that are talked about in The Names That Hurt are words that are commonly tossed around and in most cases are overlooked.

Although The Names That Hurt shows a different perspective, it shows the cast screaming out these offensive words at each other, bringing awareness and emphasis on what these words mean and opening the audience’s eyes to how the victim feels, essentially focusing on awareness as a whole.  

As a whole this production is very moving and every student in the class feels strong about it even in the beginning process. Every year the ending result is always spectacular and always successfully brings awareness to peer victimization as a whole.

“Something that I look forward to doing every single year, is bringing this topic up and seeing how people deal with it. We are fortunate to be in a school community where these type of things don’t occur as frequently and they’re not as severe as other schools per say,” Mr. Cacciola-Price said.

“Sometimes it seems like the message may not seem necessary to be brought up in such an accepting school, but then again there is also different types of bullying that still happens, there’s lots of competition between studios, as well as a lot of backstabbing in that regard just because of the competitive nature of performing arts. Therefore more of that will happen in name-calling form rather than physical violence, so I think the great thing about the show is that it’s a little bit of a reminder to be kind and be careful of what you say and examine your actions,” he added.

The Names That Hurt is a show worth watching get your tickets now.

  • by Kaylyn Sanchez ’16