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EARLY YEARS: Roanoke Children's Theatre production aims to show teens how to better handle stress

Teen actors say they're learning lessons about coping with stress as they perform the show for area schools
Teen actors say they're learning lessons about coping with stress as they perform the show for area schools(WDBJ)
Published: Feb. 28, 2019 at 4:41 AM EST
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Between homework, sports and other after-school activities, it's easy to see how teenagers can get stressed out.

Roanoke Children's Theatre is putting on a production this season that brings that issue center stage.

If you have a teenager, he or she can probably relate to the character, Simon Ives in the show, "The Boy at the Edge Of Everything."

Its plot, the effects of over-scheduling on teens.

That's something the show's actors can relate to.

14-year-old Joe Francis plays the character, Simon Ives.

He says, "I find myself going to quite a few people saying 'Oh, I'm so stressed!!What do I do?'

We stopped by this performance at William Fleming High School, one of several planned at Roanoke-area schools.

"I feel like I relate to this character, Simon Ives so much, because I feel like I-- in between school and theatre and all the in-between stuff, I feel like I"m just always running, always just going," says Francis.

As for what's causing all this stress, fellow actor David Ratliff, who plays "The Boy" has a couple of ideas.

Social media and cell phones and everything has put such an expectation on this generation of kids. I'm 25 years old, but it still applies to me, too," says Ratliff.

Both actors say this production has helped them learn better ways to cope with stress.

Francis says, "I really do just try to take a minute and just be, you know, just kind of turn off the entire world except for myself."

Ratliff agree. "I try my hardest to not turn the TV on, not get on the computer, maybe read a book for once, or do something that isn't my face buried in a screen."

"The Boy at the Edge of Everything" is part of the RCT-4-TEENS program aimed at educating young people about health issues through theatre.

With this show, the performers hope audiences come away with the understanding that taking a break is okay.

"I hope that we can instill in them that yeah, it's okay to do a lot of stuff. It's okay to have busy lives, but it's also okay to just take a minute for yourself," says Ratliff.

Along with the school performances, both public shows of "The Boy at the Edge of Everything" will be Pay What You Can Performances.

They will be Thursday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m. and Friday, March 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Black Box Theatre at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.

For reservations for either of the public performances, call 540-400-7795, or check out Roanoke Children's theatre online. .

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