Response from Gregory Miscik, LPC, NCCC,
Counseling Associates, Latrobe/Mt/ Pleasant:
Being a mental health professional since the start of the millennium who has worked with hundreds of adolescents, and watching FULL BLOOM, I can say Miss Jerz’s performance was so real I almost felt compelled to intervene. She was the typical teen, with poor coping skills, going through life situations. She was spot-on for a millennial going through these situations. The monologues from her perch were incredible– it felt so real, I wanted to jump in there! It was brilliant; it was great; I loved it– it was perfect.
I had a 19yo patient in my office last night, who showed me cuts all over her arms and legs, and the words coming out of her mouth were just like the speeches, the monologues. All the facial expressions and gestures were exactly what Phoebe did– and that was real. I could have seen Phoebe in my office. As a mental health professional dealing with this population, her performance was right there.
The whole cast were professionals, some with 25-30yrs experience. FULL BLOOM was great. I was impressed from top to bottom. FULL BLOOM did what it was designed to do– as a mental health professional, I felt compelled, from my seat, to jump in and intervene.
Excerpts from Anonymous College Student Responses to FULL BLOOM
“As someone who generally dislikes plays, I really enjoyed Full Bloom. The combination of the theater’s and actors’ authenticity really made for a unique experience I’ve never had before. I thought the actors were so talented, raw, and were just like real people, not characters.
My favorite character was Phoebe. At the beginning of the play, Phoebe is a bright, charismatic girl who loves art and reading and who, throughout the play, talks to the audience as if it is her diary. We slowly see Phoebe turn from charismatic to melancholy as she is constantly faced with pressures and issues. The main catalyst for Phoebe’s transition is that she is starting to be sexualized by people in her life… I also noticed that her outlook on life changed as the play progressed through the metaphor of the painting she mentions.
…I think Phoebe’s story is important because it shows society’s effects on females and just how common they are. Most females, as well as males, face many societal pressures in their lives and may even get used to them because of “norms” and stereotypes. However, we cannot ignore these issues. Pressure to have sex, pressure to accept compliments, pressure to dress a certain way– Phoebe had all of these pressures and we saw how badly she was affected. …I learned a lot from watching Full Bloom.”
“The emotional play I just experienced by the name of Full Bloom, acted as a window into the world of psychology. I was always the guy to say, ‘Hey, you never know what someone is going through,’ but I never really stopped to consider what exactly it was. This play showed me the psychological strains that can appear in someone’s mind by just going through life. From young to old, we all have issues that seem much larger than they actually are, but they take such a toll on our lives.
…Jane Harris was experiencing the break up of a marriage… I have never experienced first-hand what a divorce or an affair looks like, but I think she did an excellent job portraying one. Moreover, I noticed the affair affected not only Jane, it also affected Phoebe. It is interesting to see how differently one situation can affect other people.
…Jim Giannini portrayed work-related stresses quite well… my father is a deputy coroner… and he has seen some horrific things. Watching Jim’s reaction to losing a little girl is quite close to how my dad gets after a bad call.
…This play… caused me to shed a tear at times. Witnessing these situations play out… makes me sympathetic for people who actually go through these types of ordeals… & [leaves me] having learned what we should look out for in our peers.”
“Watching this made me almost almost visibly uncomfortable with the realization that this is what almost every teenage girl goes through. Maybe not disfigurement of the face or a divorced family, but young girls everywhere are surrounded by images of beauty and standards they are supposed to live up to. It was a very real portrayal of the effects that these standards can have on a young girl…
of the dangers of beauty in both adolescence and adulthood. Self-harm is illustrated in Phoebe with the knife and maybe even Crystal and her obsession with plastic surgery to remain youthful and beautiful.
…The play also shows an accurate portrayal of a recently divorced [woman Jane] and her struggle of accepting that her husband cheated on her. The psychological damages that can occur after an event such as that are insecurity, doubt, and depression. I saw these same effects in my mother when she went through a divorce with my dad, and it was very interesting to see that from an audience perspective instead of as someone who was living with that.”
“I went to see the play Full Bloom … expecting the play to be more like a research presentation, just talking about mental disorders and other points of psychology in the world. So I was surprised when the play took these concepts and turned them into a story that the audience could relate to.
The thing that I liked most about the play was Phoebe’s monologues. I thought it was a great decision made by the person who wrote the play, because it enabled the audience to know what Phoebe was thinking, and the thought process that went on behind her actions. If only this could happen in real life, then a lot of incidents like the one that happened to Phoebe could be avoided.
I also like how this play included the issues with physical appearance in our world. Society puts so many expectations on people for how they should look, and when we can’t live up to those expectations, that can fuel depression and anxiety, and push people to make rash decisions. …
I appreciate that this play emphasized the importance of paying attention to the signs of mental ailments. If those in Phoebe’s life had done something about what they saw, like her skipping class, then her hurting herself could have been prevented.”
“The play Full Bloom by Suzanne Bradbeer follows a young girl named Phoebe who is going through many adolescent changes physically and emotionally… and eventually hits a breaking point, in which she ends up harming herself. …This really opened up my eyes to the idea that people may be dealing with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety more commonly than we realize.
…I am able to sympathize with her because after a traumatic experience with me, I learned that my anxiety can be more dangerous than I thought.
…Just because someone seems “normal” we never know what struggles they may be facing in their mind. Having a better understanding of this allows me to have an improved outlook at others and [to] notice the signs of when they are going through hardships and mental battles.”
“I really enjoyed the play Full Bloom. This play is something I can relate to in my own life. …This play depicts a young teenage girl who is fed up with how society “expects” young girls to look… who struggles with how she looks and what other people think of her. Essentially she finds her “way out” by altering her self image. I think this is a very powerful message to any young teenage girl who struggles with how she feels about her own body.
Suicidal thoughts are very common among young kids today, and this is a very sad reality… I personally struggled with the same issues going through high school… Just recently I found my hope to help me through my struggles…
Full Bloom has a powerful message of what can happen in kids’ lives, but what we, as a society, don’t want to happen. I will always make it my mission to make sure everyone I meet feels loved and knows their worth to this world.”
“Each character had their own personal issue or dilemma that they were dealing with throughout the course of the play. Jesse Williams was new to the neighborhood and he had moved to New York from a state in the midwest. This was a drastic change of his environment and he felt extremely out of place and alone. …Jesse winds up being the light in the story– the optimism within the negativity surrounding Phoebe’s life. He…tried to make the most out of his situation– which is a lesson Phoebe later learns herself.
Jim and Crystal, the married couple next door, represented the pros and cons of a marriage: the positive of having someone to love and be there for you, as well as the negatives– for instance, not always agreeing with the other person.
…I learned the effects of trauma and how a divorce affects not just the family relationship, but how the family reacts to everything around them. I also learned how we can become so caught up in our own feelings, we forget that others around us could be suffering as well or even worse.”
“From watching this play, I was surprised how much psychology related to it. Having never seen or even heard of Full Bloom, I was not sure what to expect of it, but it was very attention-holding. …I am glad I attended.”
“The play Full Bloom was very impactful… I can relate very well to Phoebe, dealing with body issues and having people say stuff about my appearance constantly… Society makes people feel insecure, hate themselves, and feel the need to change their appearance to be attractive, when that isn’t true at all. …
I thought [the climax of the play] was really powerful, because Phoebe is only 15 and has this mindset. The play shows how society is affecting kids to a point where they need to mutilate, change, or kill themselves to feel accepted or to escape society’s horrible standards.”
“I was very impressed by the stage setup, and although we were in a small area, I felt very comfortable. …
… I believe Crystal is a very relatable character, because I think we can all identify with having a supportive friend like her. Throughout the play, the story unfolds with Phoebe and her distance with her family members as she grows older, as well as her frustration with her father and men in general.
The main theme of the play speaks to all women on a personal level. The idea is that as Phoebe grows into a beautiful woman, she begins to recognize the mistreatment that the female gender is often put through by men, and even sometimes by women. It is clear that Phoebe feels very trapped by her thoughts, and feels a lot of pressure from the people around her, and this is hard for her because she clearly does not want to conform. Phoebe begins to rebel almost, and scrutinizes the people in her life that compliment her, such as Crystal and her romantic interest Jesse.
This all continues with the idea of society putting too much unnecessary pressure on women and their looks. Not only is Phoebe struggling with the idea of “beauty,” but so is Crystal. As Phoebe ages, so does Crystal. However, Crystal wants plastic surgery in order to look younger. Unfortunately, plastic surgery is something our society knows far too much about, and it is common (especially in women) to undergo treatment. Although her husband, Jim, tells Crystal what she is doing is unnecessary and even fights with her about it, Crystal stubbornly goes through with the surgery. The idea is that this will prolong her acting career, because the goal is to always look young and beautiful– which speaks volumes presently.
I’ve always known the pressure that is put on females to be beautiful and attractive to men. However, I learned from this play that no one is ever alone in feeling this way; there is always someone that can relate to you somewhere.
I also learned that I should stop putting so much pressure on myself, and truthfully, I learned not to deal with any man’s sh** when they feel the need to say something about my looks or who I am.
I think it is extremely important for young girls to see this play. The message is profound and deep, and should be shared with all genders. It is important to learn that no one is put on earth to serve another person.”
“The play Full Bloom makes me question myself about how I define beauty, and how I would react when put in Phoebe’s shoes.”
“I [attended] the play called Full Bloom by Suzanne Bradbeer in Latrobe. [H]aving the expectation to find something like ‘The Palace’ [theatre] in Greensburg… I was surprised to find… a personal space designed for a small group of people, the stage already laid out and ready for the play to start.
It started. Phoebe, the main character, talks to the audience and this makes it intimate, immediately catching my attention. …[She] talks about [the moon] with passion in her eyes. …Phoebe had this look on her face that always led me to wonder what she was actually feeling even though she was “fine”. …Phoebe was dealing with what appeared to be common teenage thoughts. …All around her everyone would remind her that she was beautiful and how she was becoming a woman. Her attitude indicated that she didn’t believe it and didn’t like it. …
I really enjoyed the play. I believe that plays have the power to be more real and easy to relate to. The actors portrayed the characters with so much passion and enthusiasm that I instantly was driven by them, wanting to cry at some parts of the play, like when Jim describes the little girl that was caught in the fire. The stage had so many small details that were important to the story, like all of the canvasses that had drawings of the moon. I thought the story was very interesting and always captivated me to try to figure out what would happen in the end.
Personally, this situation made me think about the way I see myself as a woman and made me realize that women don’t usually appreciate what they really are. This situation occurs more often than not, because girls are exposed to beauty from early moments in life. We strive for beauty and want it so much, that sometimes the drive leads us to get lost.”
“I attended the play Full Bloom and had such an eye-opening experience in such a small theatre. The play did a fantastic job with portraying a sense of reality. …Full Bloom really changed my perspective on what bottling things up inside can do to a human. …Phoebe’s character was the reason I realized what gradual changes occur when someone is facing these challenges. …It was intense to experience this visually. It’s easy to learn about these things and learn about ways to stop them, but to watch them happen is much harder. It was good preparation for what to expect when you actually become a psychologist.
One of many things the play displayed really nicely was the unwillingness of Phoebe to detect a problem with her mental health. …People never think they have issues, and no one wants to admit it if they do know, because as a society we are pressured into trying to be perfect all the time. As the audience, we all knew what was happening to Phoebe, but yet it was so hard for her own family to realize it. This was unique to see because the audience is expecting her mental health to be altered– because we read about it beforehand. But if we wouldn’t have read about it, would we have noticed as much? Which is very similar in the realm of life: because no one tells you they are mentally ill, we don’t expect or see changes in them.
This play also changed my outlook on how your job can affect your psychological perspective. This was shown through Jim, when he couldn’t save the girl at work. Like firefighters, many jobs include impactful scenes that sometimes as humans are extremely hard to live with. His situation made me think long and hard about my future job, and if I think I’d be able to handle it. …
Full Bloom did an exceptional job showing the effects one small thing can have on so many people. It can turn into something so big, and everyone handles it differently. Unfortunately, Phoebe handled it the worst and turned to self-harm. I think I truly understand the diversity in human reaction to situations a lot better. I would for sure go watch this play again, and I would recommend it to anyone and specifically all psychology majors.”
Please don’t let the opportunity to see The Miracle Worker pass you by. It’s one of those stories that everybody “knows,” but do you really? Yes it’s the story of Helen Keller, but it’s also a story about Annie Sullivan and what she overcame to become who she was; it’s also the story about a husband and wife trying to live as normal a family life as possible with a child who is anything but normal; and it’s the story of a son wanting to be respected by his father but constantly overlooked and belittled for his opinions. What was a pleasant surprise for me was the humor in the play. At first I felt guilty for laughing at something, but after hearing another man freely laughing as well (he knows who he is), I let myself go and indulged. From my past experiences attending plays at the Cabaret Theatre, there is nothing to disappoint, and everything to appreciate. The remaining dates are tonight, the 13th, and next week on the 18th, 19th and 20th. One bit of advice – if you sit in the front row, beware of flying spoons.