Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Teen Fiction: The Play and the Players

Shiri Newmark

And here they are, directed to smile at the audience, when they may be crying inside. To suppress their personalities, they take on that of an imagined character

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

 Mishpacha image


Mrs. Steinberg

The lights are already dim. I want to find my seat quickly so I don’t miss seeing any of my girls on stage.

The first scene is staged by six students. Only two of them are “my girls.” Both of them come to my office primarily as an excuse to miss class. I don’t mind that. I know that the need for attention can be just as valid as many other issues girls have. Leah is acting the part of a shy ten-year-old. Knowing how much she loves to talk, I’m almost surprised she can manage that!

The first song-dance is beginning. I notice that all the girls are smiling as they sing and dance. I imagine the heads during practice, “Smile, girls! Don’t forget to smile!” Tova is right there in the second row, smiling with the rest of them. I wonder if it’s only me, or if that smile looks fake to everyone. I rarely see Tova smile. It’s hard to recognize her like this.

Chedva steps onto the stage. She’s cast as the best friend of the main character. As the two girls hug each other in excitement, I ponder the fact that in real life, Chedva is jealous of Mimi, and tries to avoid her. Chedva struggles with schoolwork, and she feels that Mimi represents everything she wishes she could be. On stage, however, they are best friends, putting on a show good enough to fool the audience.

That’s what these plays are all about. Faking. Pretending. Hiding behind costumes and too-big-to-be-real smiles and bright lights. As if any of those things can truly cover the disappointment, sadness, loneliness, and other difficulties many of these girls struggle with on a daily basis.


I always feel that the bright spotlight plays the biggest role in helping to cover everything that is real. It’s like saying, “You can see everything. We couldn’t hide anything under this light!” It’s irrelevant, though. The struggles are internal. No matter how strong the lighting is, when a girl stands on stage and recites her lines, all it takes are acting skills to hide her true self from the world.

I tell the girls to be real. To be themselves. I tell them that their struggles matter, and their successes count. I tell them that they are valuable and valued.

And here they are, directed to smile at the audience, when they may be crying inside. To suppress their personalities, to take on that of an imagined character. The better they can fake it, the more applause they receive.

I wonder how many people watch plays the way I do, with these thoughts running through their minds. Probably not many.

Maybe I’m overthinking this. I should just let the girls have their fun.

Miss Teller

This is the last scene before intermission. I’m hoping to spend the ten-minute break congratulating my students participating in the production. Obviously, that includes the girls working backstage. I love when students are able to find the area they’ll be most successful in, and to work on that. It’s an amazing opportunity. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 695)

Related Stories

Crisscross: Chapter 1

Tovy Mann

Ima told me that I’m getting a new sibling today. At last! There are advantages to being an only chi...

Mimic Me!

Ahuvah Sofer

Despite advances in technology and engineering, nothing competes with the natural world —no boat gli...

Yosef Chaim’s Adventures: Yosef Chaim Learns a Lesson

Shira Yehudit Djalilmand

That was a really cool class. It was amazing to hear about all the smart ideas Hashem put into anima...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Never Despair
Rabbi Moshe Grylak HaKadosh Baruch Hu always opens a way back
Yonoson Rosenblum My first Sephardic minyan on Shabbos
No Questions Asked
Eytan Kobre I still don’t have a satisfying answer to this question
“Lachem” Times Ten
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik Perhaps we can add one more interpretation
Keeping Your Head and Bases Covered
Jacob L. Freedman “Take it off?! Wearing my kippah literally saved my life...
Money Speaks
Faigy Peritzman Approach eternal life with happiness and meticulousness
Preparing for Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Help your kids navigate change consciously and carefully
A Listening Ear
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Hear a message, not a sound