GREAT FALLS – If you live in Great Falls, you know of the crosstown rivalry.
But this time, the three high schools in town are coming together to send a powerful message.
Students from Great Falls High School, C.M. Russell High School and the Paris Gibson Education Center are acting out the stories of Great Falls residents in a play called “Converge: E Pluribus Unum.”
The meaning behind it? Many coming together as one.
In the early stages of the play, playwright, director and writer Sarah Butts said they interviewed 50 residents in the Great Falls community.
“The play illuminates the struggles that a lot of young people are facing in Great Falls. A lot of things that people in the community may be aware is happening, but may not be aware of the depth and breadth of a lot of these challenges,” Butts said.
The monologues the cast is reciting are real stories. They represent a number of issues happening in the community: homelessness, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders and mental health.
For some cast members, the play hits close to home.
“Personally, I have extreme anxiety. It was just one of those things that brings me really close to this play…and really makes me appreciate it even more. Being able to see other people play these parts and have these monologues, it’s really moving,” Paris Gibson Education Center senior Aleesha Allee said.
Allee said the play will shine a light on a lot of issues people do not normally think about.
“High school is hard for everybody and we all go through things, but I think if we had that extra support even outside of counseling it would be great,” Allee said.
Gayden Nevels is a junior at Great Falls High School. His monologue focuses on anorexia.
“I hope they want to get involved in the community and just try to help with people who are going through struggles in everyday life and help them get through that stuff,” Nevels said.
At the end of the play there will be an interactive discussion between the audience and the cast members.
“I hope people walk away with more of a respectfulness for people who are struggling with these issues in their life and maybe going out into the community and helping,” Allee said.
The performance will be February 20, 21, and 22 at 7 p.m. in the Great Falls High School Auditorium.
It’s free of charge and no tickets are necessary. Viewer discretion is advised for children 10 and under.
“I really do feel like I’m doing good for this community,” Allee said.
There will be a string quartet and high school Native American dancers featured during the performance.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News