OnStage Performance Educates Actors and Audience

Early in the school year, the eighth grade OnStage class was given the assignment to research a dramatic play that deals with an issue or concern facing young adults. They unanimously selected, Does My Head Look Big in This? based on the award-winning young adult novel by Randa Abdel- Fattah. The play tells the story of Amal, a typical American teenager who decides to wear a hijab headscarf to school.

To prepare for the play, the On Stage students and members of the Middle School Diversity Club invited an imam, Yaseen Sheik from the Islamic Society of Baltimore and classmate Noor Q. to speak to them about their beliefs and customs. During a question and answer session, the students learned about Islamic prayer, why females wear the hjab, how Muslims are dealing with the news reports of ISIS and Al Quaeda, and the stereotypes faced by Muslims around the world.

In addition to honing their acting skills by performing in Does My Head Look Big in This?, here's what several of the eighth graders said about the experience:

  • "I learned about how hard it is for some of our fellow Americans to live by just exercising their first amendment right. As Americans, we all are due the utmost rights to practice our freedom, and this play showed how fear can rule some people’s minds, even today. This play was very inspirational for me, as I am a large patriot."
  • "I thought the play helped me learn more about a culture that I probably wouldn’t have learned much about otherwise. I thought the meeting with the imam really helped me get into character."
  • "I realized that everyone in a play is really important whether they are a small or large character."
  • "I grew quite a bit as a person due to being in such an important play. From this play I learned about self-values and that it is important to stand up for what you believe in. I learned to not stereotype immediately. It is natural for kids to look at someone and assume the worst, as it is in the play when Amal wears her hijab, or look at someone and think they have a perfect life. But this play taught the lesson of not judging because though a person may not be struggling financially or health wise, they could be struggling with appearance, or with their religion, or with beliefs, or with a parental situation. I grew from this play because the messages and lessons were so important."

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