The 8th graders from Forest Park Middle School got a taste of what it’s like to be the “new kid” this past Thursday. We went to the Vittum Theater in Chicago where the play “New Kid” was being performed. In the play, the students follow the story of Nick, a trasplant to the United Stated from a mythical country called Homeland. Nick speaks English to the audience. You are drawn into his perspective. When he arrives in the US he meets two new classmates: Mench and Mug. Mench and Mug speak in gibberish to give the audience the feeling of what it is like to hear English from Nick, a non-English speaker’s point of view. At times in the story, you think you know what they’re saying. The words tease you with meaning, but then you lose the thread and have no idea. It was a great view into the minds and frustrations of those new to our country. 

The heart of the play is about acceptance. Mench and Nick, despite the language barriers become good friends. It’s a different story entirely for the bully Mug, who delights in tormenting Nick. At the end, even Mug grudgingly accepts to newcoming and our outsider is no longer the “new kid.” 

The actors and the producer took time at the end of the play to talk to the audience and answer questions. The students had some great questions and perhaps took away from the play a better sense of what it’s like for those who come to us from another country. The sixth grade class will be attending the same play next week.