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Local Youth Take On A Monster In Touchstone Production Of STARRY-EYED

Local Youth Take On A Monster In Touchstone Production Of  STARRY-EYED

On Oct. 5 and 6, local teenagers will take over Payrow Plaza in Bethlehem to do battle with a mythological monster and conquer their fears and insecurities as they envision a great future.

The 14 teens from Bethlehem's Liberty and Freedom high schools and the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts bring a strong chorus of youth voices to "Starry-Eyed," an original play that is part of Festival UnBound, a 10-day convergence of art and community designed to spark conversation about the future of Bethlehem 20 years after the closing of Bethlehem Steel.

"Starry-Eyed" will be presented outdoors on the first weekend of the festival, which runs Oct. 4-13 and includes nine original pieces of theater, along with visual art, street spectacles and opportunities for conversation.

Festival organizers wanted a strong youth voice in the festival. "They are our tomorrow," says "Starry-Eyed" director Emma Ackerman, a member of the Touchstone Theatre ensemble and coordinator of Touchstone's Teen Ensemble.

The script and music for "Starry-Eyed" were written by the students in the production. To get started, they played theater games, brainstorming about their worries - being accepted, being heard, anger, fear of not finding love, global warming - and about their hopes and dreams for the future.

In the play, they find the answers in each other and in their art.

The storyline is that they are "a wandering group of weirdos on a journey together," says Ackerman. They stumble upon Bethlehem, a place they kind of have heard about, and find a connection to.

But there is something in Bethlehem they must do battle with -- a nameless beast that preys on their insecurities. It will be represented by a puppet created by Kyra Zimmerman, a student at Charter Arts.

They fail at times, but persevere.

The students are stoked to present the results of a year of work.

"We've been working on this for such a long time, writing and rewriting and creating it all little by little," says Emma Engler, a student at Charter Arts. "It's so exciting see all the bits and pieces finally being to fit together to make this beautiful performance."

Says Jolie Lanning, another Charter Arts student: "Being part of the youth piece has made me realize how important arts and my role as a teen is in the community. I hope everyone who comes will be touched by our work and see how important the youth voices are here in Bethlehem."

"Starry-Eyed" will be presented at 11 a.m. Oct. 5 and 6 at Payrow Plaza, 10 E. Church St. Suggested donation is $15, adults; $10, students and seniors.

For tickets, go to or call 610-867-1689.

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