Fundingworks

    Bully

    Lee J. Kaplan stands up to the bully. Five rounds - it's the fight of his life.

    Bully the Show

    Lee J. Kaplan's acclaimed, award-winning solo autobiographical theatre show, "Bully," continues its nationwide tour and returns to NYC, joined by talented student artists telling their own stories.

     New York, NY, United States
    $3,510
    raised of $20,000 goal
    41
    donations
    46
    days left

    BULLY - IT'S THE FIGHT OF HIS LIFE

    My solo autobiographical solo show, Bully, was born six years ago when I discovered a journal that I kept when I was in the sixth grade. Prior to discovering the journal, I hadn't picked it up since I wrote in it as a kid. Reading those words was devastating to me and I couldn't believe I'd kept this account of what was taking place.

    In the journal, I detailed many of the attacks I endured that school year, which were followed by two more years of relentless bullying: physical, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse. I regularly handed this journal in to the teacher to be reviewed and graded, but no action was taken to stop the attacks.

    In that moment, I decided I would not be another passive reader of this journal. As an adult, I felt the responsibility to help kids who might be enduring similar attacks.

    When I found the journal, I was at an early place in my career. Without much experience in the solo art form, I knew I coudn't be silent and I needed to speak up. Having been bullied in elementary school for my love of acting in plays, I thought the biggest risk I could take would be to write and perform a play -- a solo show -- about what happened to me. I wanted to be able to share the experience with a live audience.

    With help from Bully director Padraic Lillis and my boxing trainer Alberto Reyes, I crafted a show that allows me to call my bullies into the ring, stand up for myself and finally fight back.

    THE STORY SO FAR

    This has been an amazing journey since we premiered the show at Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City in November 2012, only days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Even in those less-than-ideal conditions when electricity wasn't fully restored to the area, we sold out our first two performances and won our first award at the United Solo Theatre Festival. In 2013, we played our first two school shows and were accepted to perform as part of the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, DC and the New York International Fringe Festival. We earned fantastic reviews from the New York Times and the Washington Post during those performances:

    New York Times: "It's unassailable messages sugarcoated with ounces of sweat, pounds of goofy humor and tons of heart."

    Washington Post: "Devastating and should be required viewing."

    The reception in schools and theatres has been amazing and so rewarding. Students and faculty alike have raved about the show and about the informative Q&A sessions after the performances. Those Q&A sessions have been remarkable for me: I have been blown away by the sheer honesty that's come out in the audience talkback sessions we've held to this point, as many audience members feel empowered to tell their own stories after watching me tell mine.

    Now, after touring the show in six states and in Canada performing for more than 13,000 people, we have a lot planned for the 2017 - 2018 school year.

    We're kicking off the year with a two-week run at the Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre and area schools in California in September, followed by more school touring later in the Fall. We are thrilled to bring our new curriculum to take with us to theatres and schools to supplement the audience experience. In December, we're bringing Bully back to New York's IRT Theatre.

    Through all the Q&A sessions I mentioned earlier, I've learned many things. Chief among them, I've learned that kids (and adults, for that matter) want to talk. I've watched many people stand up so bravely in these Q&A sessions and tell their stories about being bullied and about being a bully. I've realized we need a platform here to facilitate more conversation and communication.

    So, to that end: we will be joined during the December performances by a very talented group of three teenage artists, with whom Padraic Lillis and I will be working to assemble their own solo shows about issues they want to give voice to. I can only imagine how empowering it would be to be a student that is given the chance to have their moment on-stage and speak their truth about what's happening in their lives and how it makes them feel.

    After more touring in early 2018, we plan to return to New York for one more extended run, where we'll again be joined by our young artists performing their shows.

    BULLYING TODAY

    We'd hoped that in the five years since premiering Bully that bullying threats would diminish. Sadly, cyberbullying is on the rise and bullying behavior is more normalized than ever. According to the National Education Association, 160,000 kids miss school each day due to bullying and one out of every five students is bullied. This kind of abuse is the leading factor in suicides among children ages 11-16. Given the increased attention this issue has received over the past few years, I am more focused on helping to curb this behavior than ever. This is about helping people -- adults and kids -- have their voices heard. I had no idea that when I found my journal, I'd become an anti-bullying advocate, but this journey has most assuredly changed my life. I know how much audiences value seeing me, knowing that I went through it and connecting with me.

    WHAT WE NEED

    I love being able to fundraise like this, to connect with supporters and work together to bring this kind of programming into our communities.

    I need your help to make all of this happen! Your donations will help us pay for performance venues, our new youth development program, curriculum development, marketing and rehearsal space and continuing to extend our reach into schools.

    With this crowdfunding campaign, we're aiming to reach $20,000 with small and large donations. This campaign represents approximately one-third of our overall budget, so, if you know of ways to help continue our fundraising efforts outside of this campaign, please let us know!

    HOW YOU CAN HELP
    In addition to your donation -- any amount, large or small -- I'd be so grateful if you'd help me spread the word to friends and family about this -- send emails, connect with me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and on Instagram. Let's get the word out to as many people as we can.

    Thank you!

    ABOUT LEE
    Lee J. Kaplan is a New York based actor, writer, producer, editor. His first short film, Attempt to Rise, has screened in ten film festivals across the United States and was awarded "Best Film Premiere." Most recently seen in an NYC production of G.B. Shaw's Overruled, Lee has appeared in numerous short films and web series. As a voiceover artist, he has recorded multiple television and radio campaigns for clients including Baskin-Robbins and Nissan. www.leejkaplan.com

    ABOUT PADRAIC
    Off-Broadway directing credits include: Scott Hudson’s Sweet Storm with Alchemy Theatre in association with Labyrinth Theater Company; Michael Puzzo’s The Dirty Talk for Spare Change Productions at Center Stage, New York; A Line in the Sand, Adina Taubman’s docudrama based on the school shootings at Columbine. He is currently adapting the best selling novel Strangers on a Bridge for Palermo Productions. His play Lights Up on the Fade Out was awarded top ten plays of 2011 in Los Angeles, and his play Two Thirds Home is published by Dramatist Play Services, Inc. He is a company member of the Labyrinth Theater Company, and a lifelong Yankees fan.


    Bully is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Bully must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.




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