Bullying is in the national spotlight right now, although it is an age old problem. It is a problem that children of all ages and in all sorts of situations face. Glenn Sutton was bullied as a child, and has taken it upon himself to face the bullying problem head on. He does this through a performance called Lost Dreams, based on his experiences as a victim.
“Everyone has a story … and I am trying to change lives with my story,” Sutton said. Lost Dreams is set for Oct. 14 and 15 at Methodist University.
Sutton has a master’s degree in public administration and is the founder of Stop Bullies and Bystanders, an organization dedicated to educating people about the dangers of bullying and encouraging them to expose bullying in schools with the goal of permanently ending it. The organization has been working towards this goal for 16 years. Sutton reaches out to any and all areas where a child may be affected by bullying such as schools, churches and civic groups.
Sutton’s passion to prevent childhood bullying stems from his own personal experience as a bullying victim. It was during his middle school years that it proved to be the most difficult, as he was not at his grade’s reading level.
“When I was in middle school, I was bullied. I don’t want any other kid to live through that. I had a teacher that was able to rescue me from that whole situation, and I want to help kids reach their dreams because I almost lost mine. I don’t want to see kids dreams crushed. So during every show I give everything that I have,” Sutton said.
Live theatre is much more of an engaging medium than television or clips. To see real people demonstrating before your very eyes is striking and real. It forces the audience to confront the message directly.
“Our mission is to change a child’s life through drama. Once that dramatic music starts, even I go back to when I was bullied. I still hear all those names and feel all those hurts,” he said.
“Kids learn more through drama. They remember more, and because you are in the theatre, you can’t run away. When they leave, they leave with a better sense about what bullying is, they hold themselves accountable to make the right choices. They will say something about bullying. Your mouth is your greatest weapon.”
This realism and passion combined with theatrical devices creates a one-of-a-kind impact.
“A lot of schools play videos about bullying. That’s great, but what I do is different. Mine holds them accountable. I bring them into my world and show them how I feel. You need both,” he said.
A unique aspect to Sutton’s approach to solving the bullying problem is that he also holds bystanders accountable. During his show the audience is engaged in the plot line and both the bullies and the bystanders are faced with the responsibility that each had in the harming of another individual. He encourages people who see instances of bullying to stand up for others and speak out against any violence that they may see.
Lost Dreams is on stage at Methodist on Oct. 14 and 15 at 9:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. each day. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased by calling 910-551-4739 or 910-424-8713. Methodist University is located at 5400 Ramsey St. For more information on Stop Bullies and Bystanders, visit www.stopbullyingandbystanders.com.