The morning after seeing the opening night performance of BRONKS and Richard Jordan Productions’ Us/Them – presented by University Musical Society (as part of its three week No Safety Net theater series) – my nine year old daughter, Lily, heard about Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon’s resignation on the radio, on the heels of convicted pedophile and gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s sentencing. Lily listened as her parents grumbled and said, “It’s about time” in response.
“Why?” she asked. “What did she do?”
There was a pause, as there always is, while my partner and I exchanged looks, silently weighing the risks and benefits of exposing our child to humanity’s potential for cruelty and awfulness. But with Us/Them fresh in my mind, I decided to take on the struggle of providing an age-appropriate, broad-stroke explanation.
Because Us/Them is, at its core, about forging a way to meet kids halfway when it comes to talking about harrowing, painful topics like terrorism. Specifically, it tells the story, from two children’s point of view, of a nightmarish 2004 hostage incident in Beslan, Russia, which involved Chechen rebels holding twelve hundred people – mostly children, mothers, and grandmothers – inside a school for days. By the crisis’ end, more than 300 people had died. READ THE REST HERE