The Bystander

March 22nd, 2016


RFH Drama Students Set to Perform at

NYU 2016 Forum on Educational Theatre


RumsonThe Bystander: A Portrait of Apathy, a proposal submitted by Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School English teacher Suzanne Sweeney, has been accepted by the New York University Forum on Educational Theatre. Students from Sweeney’s current RFH drama class will perform the play about teen harassment and bullying as part of the NYU 2016 Forum on Educational Theatre. The performance will take place at NYU on April 24, 2016.

The Bystander: A Portrait of Apathy was submitted by Sweeney to the NYU Forum on Educational Theatre, also known as FOET, in the fall of 2015 as a youth theatre production. According to FOET, proposals for youth theatre productions need to adhere to a time frame of 30 to 60 minutes and resonate with the three focus areas for the forum: drama in education, applied theatre, and theatre for young audiences/play production. Sweeney’s proposal for The Bystander: A Portrait of Apathy was accepted after what FOET describes as “a comprehensive international peer review process.”

“The class members are producing the play themselves – from casting and blocking to props and music and lighting,” said Sweeney. “Every day the class begins with a production meeting on the objectives to be met on the timeline I have provided.” 

The students also made the crucial decision to present their narratives in pantomime format.

“They believed that this made the dramatic work even more powerful – it sends a clear message.”

The students thoroughly researched the subject of harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB).  They first referred to the RFH web page on School Climate, and utilized many additional resources including a forum, articles, and videos. A representative from the RFH School Climate Committee addressed the students as well, examining the topic in the context of the current school environment.

Throughout the process, the students maintained daily journals with entries in the areas of Objective, Accomplishment, and Personal Reflection.

The RFH School Climate Committee – consisting of administrators, child study team members, guidance counselors, student assistance counselors, and teachers – felt that a filmed performance of Bystander: A Portrait in Apathy would be a powerful tool for educating students in the RFH sending districts. A grant from the RFH Education Foundation covered the cost of royalties, and members of the RFH Film Club lent their time and expertise.

Once the student performers felt comfortable with the dramatic piece, the Film Club members worked with them to make key filming decisions. Then it was time for “Lights! Camera! Action!” The students’ hard work, dedication, and talent had finally come to fruition – resulting in a finished product that will help future RFH students learn how to treat one another with kindness and respect.

RFH students performing in The Bystander: A Portrait of Apathy are Gianna Casale, Vaughn Coleman, Emily Cooner, William Dey, Matthew Hughes, Jeremy Nives, Jane Pavluk, Eli Rallo, Paige Russo, Lisa Sandoli, Ben Segall, Kelli Tuttle, and Alissa Zack.

The Student Directors are Gianna Casale, Eli Rallo, and Alissa Zack.

FOET features the global educational theater community, representing over 20 countries and presenting over 100 workshops, papers, posters, and performances. Proposals for the NYU 2016 Forum on Educational Theatre, which will be held from April 21-24, 2016, were accepted in the areas of youth theatre production, performed research, and workshops.


Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Press Release Writer or 908-347-8885