HERO ZONE Director’s Note

A 5th grader shares with the ensemble that they want more screen time than what they are given from their parents. They all explode in agreement like a match is sparked. They continue, over the chatter, that they know how the internet works more than their parents; Adults just don’t get it! The energy escalates and it becomes apparent to me, Rose, and Jon that this—this—is what they want to talk about. So, I ask them more. As we get deeper into the topic of cyberspace, they also share that they hated the hours they spent on Zoom for school over the course of the pandemic, witnessed incidences of cyberbullying in plain sight, and have had strangers try to scam them already, which is terrifying. I thought that these experiences contradicted each other at first: what is it that you need from the internet? I wanted to scream that they had to get off! They had to find authentic connections and forget any validation they got from a single post or single video. I am beginning to sound like the grumpy grandparent who does not “get this new technology” and yet I go home, and I scroll through videos of funny dogs, play the trendiest app game, or read reviews on everything and anything. Isn’t there a part of me, whether I like it or not, that understands their point of view?

Hero Zone first surfaced in these beginning conversations with a group of 4th-6th grade students, starting in September 2021, about trust, friendship, and connection in the digital world. We debated, questioned, and created exercises that weren’t about landing on either idea that “the internet is bad,” or “the internet is good,” but rather striving for something a bit more complex. What is exciting about this constantly changing digital platform, and what’s scary about it too? In other words, what would we be confronted with if we were stuck there?

It’s been such a joy working with these young actors and creators. Ironically, we were never on our screens, and I have to believe that brought us closer as an ensemble. Their imagination, talent, and teamwork make me hopeful about what the future holds. Lastly, I'd like to thank Rose Hahn for writing a script that was complex, hilarious, and thoughtful and Jon Kirby for writing music that has such a clear vision and brought the best energy to the rehearsals every week. So turn off your phone, sit back, and enjoy the show! 

-James Lex, Director

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