2St_DriOl6LK4LPY0_Dih6spGuWZu1BNuBEujRpR72o7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points is addressing school bullying head on with a production of the play fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life by Sarah Gubbins from Feb. 5 to 22.

Inspired by McCullers’ classic The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, the play is about a lesbian teenager’s daily struggle to avoid being bullied by classmates and to embrace a teacher’s determination to provide hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. fml is abbreviated Internet slang for “f-ck my life,” often used by teens on social media.

The play is being produced as part of the national program, The Big Read, which encourages Americans to read great works of literature for pleasure and enrichment. Since September, 7 Stages’ teaching artists have been visiting local schools, libraries, service organizations, and public festivals bringing free copies of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter to Atlanta’s community.

In schools, students have read the book, discussed its themes, and created artistic responses to McCullers work. “The students’ responses to the book are so thoughtful. It is a gift to create with and learn from students,” said teaching artist Dorothy Bell.

The month-long run of the play, directed by Heidi S. Howard, will offer numerous opportunities for engagement, including an opening-night keynote address from Gubbins on Feb. 6, post-show conversations on Feb. 12 and 19 and a discussion on art as activism on Feb. 15.

7 Stages has also been working with Theatre du Reve and their production of Jane, The Fox and Me, an adaptation of a graphic novel about bullying behavior, inspired by another classic, Jane Eyre.

For tickets and more information about the productions and events, visit 7stages.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.