A group of high school drama students known as the Rainbow Project is tasked with developing a show to promote the acceptance of diversity. Throughout their rehearsals, important issues like grades, jobs, family commitments, and prejudices are all explored. But art mirrors life a little too closely, and rising tensions threaten the production. In the end, they realize that with all human enterprises, “it’s about us.” This
insight allows the show to go on. This drama speaks to its target audience of adolescents and young adults in their own language, with humor, irony, directness, and without posturing or preaching. The story, characters, and dialogue also appeal to adult audiences, featuring an intriguing play-within-a-play structure that underscores the relationship between onstage action and real life. About an hour.
Playwrights Arnold Johnston and Deborah Ann Percy Talk About Their Play “It’s About Us!"
What inspired you to write this play?
Debby served for many years as a principal in a public education system that encouraged diversity, and she worked diligently to bring full inclusion to her school(s). Arnie had a long career in creative writing and administration at a state university and shared Debby’s belief in principles of fair and equitable treatment for all. This play is one of a number we’ve written as a way of putting those principles into action in our art.
What's your favorite part or line in the play? Why?
We like the end of the first cafeteria scene in which the characters realize how much they themselves are tangled in the conflicts they’re portraying onstage.
Where did the characters come from? Are they based on people you know?
The characters grow out of our experiences with students—in middle, high school, and college—in their struggle to make sense of a world in which they face demanding and conflicting changes in their individual and social lives. They are composites; but we hope our observation is sharp enough to be authentic. We admire the efforts of decent people to lead honorable lives.
What did you try to achieve with this play?
Above all, a play should be entertaining and diverting, built on real conflict with a leavening of humor. It should accomplish this with the ring of truth. That’s what we aim for in all of our work.
Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
We're most grateful to the many students who, over the years, have provided us with the experience on which this play is based. We also express our thanks to our wonderful editor Meredith Edwards, whose invaluable suggestions helped the play find its final form.