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Nile C. Kinnick seniors Monique Rose and Jessica Traufler rehearse a scene from “Stages and Ages,” a student production about teenage life. Performances are to start Thursday at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Little Theater.

Nile C. Kinnick seniors Monique Rose and Jessica Traufler rehearse a scene from “Stages and Ages,” a student production about teenage life. Performances are to start Thursday at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Little Theater. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

Nile C. Kinnick seniors Monique Rose and Jessica Traufler rehearse a scene from “Stages and Ages,” a student production about teenage life. Performances are to start Thursday at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Little Theater.

Nile C. Kinnick seniors Monique Rose and Jessica Traufler rehearse a scene from “Stages and Ages,” a student production about teenage life. Performances are to start Thursday at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Little Theater. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

Theater teaching assistant Yvette Vandermolen wanted to take students through the authentic process of writing and directing for the stage.

Theater teaching assistant Yvette Vandermolen wanted to take students through the authentic process of writing and directing for the stage. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Adults think teenagers are consumed by generic things like partying, school and friends, 17-year-old Angie Watts said Tuesday.

But “Life As We Know It: Stages and Ages” is an opportunity to air what’s really on their minds — such as cutting, bisexuality, love, pressure and death — in this weekend’s original production by 12 Nile C. Kinnick High School students.

“This is a way to show the actual issues we have and the stress we’re under,” Watts said. “Adults tend to overlook us and dismiss us as just having ‘teenage views’ that will change when we get older. But our ‘teenage views’ still impact and affect us.”

The controversial elements merited a preview Tuesday by David Tran and Shelly Kennedy, respectively Kinnick’s principal and assistant principal. The show still was “a little rough around the edges,” Tran said.

“We’re going to soften it a bit — take out the cussing and some of the witchcraft to be sensitive to the audience,” Tran said. But they would not edit the issues, he said.

“I think it’s wonderful. This is a different avenue for students to participate and learn,” Tran said. “There’s so much in education that goes on outside the classroom.”

Theater teaching assistant Yvette Vandermolen said the students expected a little language editing. She said she was glad they weren’t dealing with other issues — such as gang violence and domestic assault — tackled by some of the other community groups she’s worked with.

Even so, the audience “should react,” said Eunice Magnusson, 15, who wrote about morphing attitudes towards the simple things in life and the lost innocence of a barefoot child.

But the students aren’t expecting to change anyone’s opinions, she said. “I try to get myself across in my writing but I also leave it open so I’m not forcing my views on anyone,” Magnusson said. “I want people to walk out of the theater more aware of what they believe in, even if it’s contrary to my own beliefs.”

“Stages and Ages” is not a full-blown play. Rather, it’s a series of 30 scenes meant to leave the audience with “the big picture,” Vandermolen said.

Recurring themes, such as childhood, being “on the move” and identity tie the production together, she added, along with “emos” — emotions played by separate characters that pop up from time to time.

“But at the heart of it, the students are asking, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What am I allowed to be?’” Vandermolen said.

The production came from a performing-arts student exercise centered on the authentic writing-for-theater experience, the teaching assistant said. Students submitted their own stories, staged them and fine-tuned the scenes by collaborating with student actors.

Audiences will be involved in developing the pieces further, Vandermolen said.

“This is a small representation of what teenagers are thinking and feeling,” she said. “Plus, there are a lot of poignant experiences about growing up that we can all relate to.”

“Stages and Ages” performances: 6 p.m. Thursday; 6 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m. Saturday. No admission will be charged, but donations will be accepted.


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