2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘Bully’ by Lee J. Kaplan

A hit in theatres and schools since its sold-out New York City premiere last Fall, Bully will appear at the Capital Fringe Festival in July and in the New York International Theatre Festival (FringeNYC) in August.

“Lee’s will to find meaning and purpose from the pain of his youth seems to have worked,” writes Dr. Robi Ludwig in the Huffington Post. “Bully is already resonating with its public in a huge way.”

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“Unabashedly autobiographical,” writes Martin Denton of nytheatre.org. “The performance is as physical as any I’ve seen… [Lee] is enormously engaging and empathetic.”

Directed by Padraic Lillis and with sound design by Elizabeth Rhodes, Bully was inspired by the discovery of Lee’s sixth grade journal, which contains detailed accounts of vicious, relentless attacks that took place that year and continued into seventh and eighth grades.

“When I found my journal, I knew I needed to speak out,” Kaplan said. “In elementary school, I was bullied for — among other things — my love of acting in plays. I thought the biggest, most powerful risk I could take would be to write and perform a play about what happened to me. I wanted to share this experience with a live audience.”

Kaplan says he incorporated shadowboxing into the show to give himself a way to finally fight back against the bullies that tormented him as a child.

“It was another great risk in doing this show — I’d never boxed a day in my life prior to starting my training last year,” Kaplan said. “I wanted to see how far I could push myself to do something that truly scared me.”

Bully premiered to two sold-out houses at Theatre Row in New York and was recognized for being the first show among the 100 shows in the festival to sell-out the house. Earlier this year, Bully traveled to two schools in Jacksonville, Florida and then returned to New York for a two-night limited run at the Access Theatre.

Kaplan says the real reward in producing and performing this show is the interaction with kids and adults, who often feel compelled to talk about their own bullying stories and abuse they suffered … or caused. The experience is especially powerful, given the growing awareness of the long-lasting effects of bullying.

“One of the most touching moments for me happened shortly after a recent school performance,” Kaplan recalled, “when one of the 8th-grade girls approached me — arm-in-arm with her close friend — and said had she been there when this was happening to me, she would have been my friend.”

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Bully plays at the Gearbox (1021 7th St., NW)
 Friday, July 12th @ 8:45 PM
Saturday, July 13th @ 5:15 PM 
Sunday, July 14th @ 3:45 PM
Friday, July 19th @ 8:30 PM
 Saturday, July 20th @ 2:45 PM.


This production is presented as a part of the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe. 

Lee J. Kaplan.
Lee J. Kaplan performing in ‘Bully.’ Photo by Spencer Moses.

Lee J. Kaplan (Producer, Writer, Actor, Editor) debuted his solo show, Bully, to two sold-out houses at the United Solo Theatre Festival and performed the show again to sold-out houses at the Access Theatre. Lee has also begun touring the show in schools. Lee made his off-Broadway debut in a production of Penny Penniworth with the Emerging Artists Theatre company, recently shot a lead role in an independent feature film and has been seen in numerous short films and web shorts. Lee is also a voiceover artist and voiced a recent Tommy Hilfiger fragrance campaign for Macy’s. Lee also runs a video editing business called MakeItReel, working with actors to assemble demo and performance reels. www.leejkaplan.com

Artwork by Noah Diamond.

ABOUT CAPITAL FRINGE: Capital Fringe is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2005 with the purpose of connecting exploratory artists with adventurous audiences by creating outlets and spaces for creative, cutting-edge, and contemporary performance in the District. Capital Fringe’s vital programs ensure the growth and continued health of the local and regional performing arts community by helping artists become independent producers while stimulating the vibrant cultural landscape in our city. Official Hashtags: #outsidetwire #capfringe13 #CapFringeSoldOut


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