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Local theater group's play addresses teen pregnancy

May 10, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - Stories of relationships, decision-making and sexuality brought hundreds of people to The Maryland Theatre on Friday to see a test run of "Know Love, Know Power," a theatrical montage.

More than 100 people from age 6 to 66 were in the show, the first effort at theater for many of them, said Niki Perini, the artistic director for Authentic Community Theatre, which put on the show.

"Know Love, Know Power" tries to raise awareness in a community where teen pregnancy rates are high and frank discussion is hard, she said.

"We saw the challenge that our community struggles with regarding communication about healthy physical intimacy and being comfortable in your own skin - all of these difficult tough-talk issues ....," Perini said.

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"Even the most educated and worldly of us struggle to look a little tweeny-bopper in the eye and to answer some of their questions. And everybody else is talking about it .... It's everywhere on TV, it's everywhere in music, it's everywhere, but families are struggling to talk about these issues ...."

"Our goal is to strengthen the voice of the inner influences," Perini said.

Stories and songs were woven together on stage, exploring a range of people and human conditions.

An early scene has an uncertain 35-year-old widow who is dating again going to a clinic to talk about birth control.

Another story cuts in - an anxious teenage girl calling her mother on her cell phone to report that she's menstruating for the first time while she's in a home improvement store.

Mary Keener of Falling Waters, W.Va., was looking forward to seeing her 14-year-old granddaughter, Kayla Sheppard of Hagerstown, sing two numbers.

"This is her first time front of a live audience," Keener said.

Kylie Kenney, 11, was getting ready to be one of the dancers in the aisle during a song called "Take It On."

She said the song was about a girl figuring out whether to listen to her mother's advice to be herself or to her friend, who urges her to be like everyone else.

Kylie said it's a good message for young people learning to make choices in the face of peer pressure.

The show took place in the middle of a free two-day retreat at First Christian Church in Hagerstown, according to Authentic Community Theatre's Web site.

Friday, the opening day, was to focus on relationships and rites of passage. Today's session is supposed to look at questions and resolutions for young people and adults.

The goal is to explore the issue of teen pregnancy, Robin Lyles, an Authentic Community Theatre board member, told Friday evening's audience.

Tables were set out to offer materials that might help.

The Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition offered "Parent Toolkits" with information about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases and guides for talking about sex and abstinence.

A teen "black" book suggested replies for standing up to pressure, such as "If you were my friend, you wouldn't ask me!" and "No thanks, it's not my style!"

Messages on free pins said "Ugot2W8" and "Virgin and Proud of it."

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