Based on the experiences of Sister Helen Prejean, “Dead Man Walking,” a play that is meant to make a point about the death penalty, was performed by BSM’s acting class. This play showed that the system to take care of criminals is questionable, and the audience left thinking and questioning their own beliefs, said Mrs. Maura Brew, the acting class teacher.
Three years ago, Mrs. Brew found out about a project available to schools and non-profits to perform Dead Man Walking. Because the point of this project is to educate, the class had to perform for students. On November 12 at 10 am, the juniors and seniors went to a special performance of “Dead Man Walking,” and on November 16 at 7 pm there was a performance open to the public.
“Dead Man Walking” is play with a deep message, and the acting class was excited to share that message with the school. “It raises questions but doesn’t preach,” said Mrs. Brew, “there is no pre-packaged moral at the end but it is thought provoking.” The idea was that students and teachers would come in with their own beliefs about the death penalty, but that they may leave with new information from the different perspectives presented.
Performing in the play were the 14 students who make up the acting class. These students have been working since the beginning of school, practicing monologues and learning different acting techniques, to prepare for this play. “They put their heart into this,” said Mrs. Brew, “and we have talked a lot about the different emotions of the people involved.”
Students volunteered for the major roles, but “Dead Man Walking” is truly an ensemble production with everyone contributing something. “I think the students bring a thoughtful interpretation to the play,” said Mrs. Brew.
Even Mr. Zeckser and the Students for Human Life group got involved in this performance. “They researched some facts, and at the beginning [of the performance] there will be a short PowerPoint presenting these facts,” said Mrs. Brew.
After completing this play, the acting class will now be working to prepare for the one act play. Although “Dead Man Walking” would be a great play to perform for the competition, Mrs. Brew did not want to go that route. “[“Dead Man Walking”] would be perfect for one act, and other schools have done it, but I would not be comfortable with doing that because it would feel wrong to put the emphasis on competition when it is about the message,” said Mrs. Brew.