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Local Actor Teaches How to Stand Up to Bullying, Unhealthy Relationships from Stage

Shonna McEachern plays a bullied middle schooler in one production.

 

Watching someone being bullied can be hard.

Imagine setting yourself up for the same treatment. Again and again and again. In front of an audience. Even when it’s scripted.

Woburn actor Shonna McEachern has appeared on stage for the past year in a production for middle schoolers, she said, called “Girl Chat.”

“I’m the one who gets bullied," she said.

She also appears in “Remote Control,” for eighth graders, she said, both under the auspices of Deana’s Education Theater, which also performs “The Yellow Dress,” about dating violence.

McEachern has been performing since “I did fake plays in my room” as a child, she told Woburn Patch. She attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan.

About a year ago, she heard about “The Yellow Dress” and Deana’s Theater. Drama is an effective way to get a message across, she said.

“When you say something out loud, it’s different than when you think it.”

Such material can be hard to perform, emotionally, according to McEachern. Her role in “Girl Chat” hits her hard, she said, because she was once substantially heavier.

The scenarios the actors present are realistic, according to McEachern.  She’s attended training sessions where the cast talks about real-life situations, she said, like a Wayland girl killed last year by her boyfriend. She also keeps an eye and ear out for what students are wearing and how they speak, she said, to better relate to her audience.

In “Remote Control,” the narrator holds a remote control device that stops the action and allows the actors to change the script.

It’s rewarding, McEachern said, when the audience sees what you want them to see on stage.

The actors also engage the audience by asking questions, according to McEachern. One question they get:  “Where is someone most apt to be bullied?”

“Everywhere,” she said. The question makes the 31-year-old feel old. When she was in school, she said she tells her audience, she could go home and get away from taunts. Not today, with cyberspace.

Some actors perform company works all over the country, and beyond, according to McEachern. She tends to perform in and around the commonwealth.

She’s also appearing in “The Full Monty," in a small role, she said, at Stoneham Theater.

You may recognize McEachern if you take the Zumba class at the Y in Woburn. She just started to teach there.

Her fiancé, Kevin Cirone, is a software engineer and, she said, a part-time actor.

A month before she started to perform with Deana’s Theater, McEachern learned that a friend had been in a bad dating situation. She’s out of that relationship.

Getting into that kind of situation “can happen,” McEachern said, “to anybody.”

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