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FAMILY : Teens, Adults Connect at 'Intersections'


A dad and a teen-ager from different families and backgrounds find themselves in a parallel universe, forced to confront choices they've made and to work together to achieve understanding in "Intersections," a free play for middle school-age young people and parents at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Thursday.

The professionally acted show, created by Kaiser Permanente's Southern California Region Educational Theatre Programs to tour schools (grades 6 to 9), serves up a message about the importance of communication, self-esteem and personal responsibility.

"I think a root cause of a lot of problems is when people feel powerless--so why care, why make good choices in your life, why try to help other people?," said Rick Burke, the program's director. "This play deals with that."

In the short (37 minutes) play, the at-odds teen-ager and the adult wind up in "an honest conversation and confrontation" about their lives and their mistakes.

"The father figure must evaluate what kind of father and husband he's been and look at some of the promises he made as a youth," Burke said, "and the teen is forced to look at choices she's made regarding friends, drugs and alcohol. . . . They're both at a crisis point in their lives. They end up finding some common ground where they learn something, help each other and hopefully, from now on will make changes."

The play, which touches upon such youth concerns as drugs and alcohol, sex and pregnancy, suicide and depression, violence and gangs, was co-written by Burke, the program's coordinator Steve Neuder and Burke's wife, playwright Sharon Burke. It was developed with physicians, health educators, community and youth experts.

The show is offered free to schools and community centers and parent guides are provided, as are classroom follow-up activities. Students receive a card to carry listing resources to call for help and tips for good communication and conflict resolution.

"It's very much a play about communicating," Burke said. "When you empower yourself and talk about a problem, with a parent, a friend, a counselor, it helps you in dealing with it."

* "Intersections," Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 4401 W. 8th St., Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Free. Information: (213) 259-4531.

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