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Free Shady Side Academy performance warns teens of dating dangers

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m.

Shady Side Academy is hosting a free performance today, Thursday, on a topic that likely nobody wants to discuss.

Teen dating violence is the subject of the show, “Everything is Fine,” on stage at 7:30 p.m. in the Hillman Center for Performing Arts.

The 45-minute show is written and performed by teens to raise awareness about abusive teen relationships.

Sponsored by Highmark, the performance is by Prime Stage Theater and has received national recognition for highlighting an uncomfortable subject.

It is supported by Teens 4 Change and endorsed by Futures Without Violence.

The play was written by teens with the consultation of Jodi Cuccia, the mother of Demi Cuccia, a 16-year-old Monroeville girl who was murdered by her boyfriend after trying to end their relationship.

Proceeds will support her memorial fund for continued awareness.

“Were there warning signs? Absolutely,” Connie Brinda, media relations officer for Prime Stage, said. “But did we know them? No.”

Brinda says two out of every three teens will be in or know someone in an abusive relationship.

“Learn to identify the warning signs of teen dating violence that can help you save the life of a friend, a loved one or even you,” she said.

Founded in 1996, Prime Stage Theater is based on Pittsburgh's North Shore. The mission is not only to entertain but to educate.

The group's teen board, members of which wrote the play, was invited to Harrisburg to talk with state legislators about teen violence.

“I believe that our presence there helped to pass (House Bill 2026), bringing the state closer to mandatory education in our schools on teen dating awareness,” said Hanna Joe Weisberg, teen board president.

Shady Side Academy will host the show in the campus theater, 423 Fox Chapel Road.

A discussion will be hosted after the play with the teen cast and staff from local violence prevention groups.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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