Dooling, Johnson Participate in Play

JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. – Thursday morning Celtics players Keyon Dooling and JaJuan Johnson performed in a play with 60 youth from J.F. Kennedy Elementary School. The Read To Achieve event, presented by Kia Motors, is one of the most highly anticipated events of every school year.

The students had dedicated the last three weeks to preparing for the play but didn’t know that the two guest actors would be Celtics players. The group completely lost their minds when the players walked in.

After the kids finally settled down, Dooling asked with a smile, “How is everyone doing today? JaJuan and I are excited to be here. We’ve heard you all have been practicing really hard. We’ve looked over our lines but we really need you all to help us so it runs smoothly when we perform in front of the school. Will you guys run through the play with us?”

The kids excitedly said they would. As the group began going through their lines, students directed the players where to stand.

“You’re supposed to be beside me when you say that line,” said one youth.

“JaJuan, you exit with Ellie and then come back to the stage for the next scene,” explained another student.

Without the help from the students, it would have been very difficult for the play to run smoothly on the stage in front of the entire school.

“It was nice to rehearse the play with the actors before actually performing it,” said Dooling. “There is more to a play than just learning lines. We had to know where to stand, when to exit, when to come back to the stage. If it wasn’t for them I would have been lost on the stage.”

Following a successful rehearsal, the kids had some time to get to know the players, give them tips about the play and ask their own questions.

“Make sure you guys project your voice so the people in the back of the audience can hear you,” advised one student.

“Face the audience at all times. You should never have your back to the audience because they won’t be able to hear you,” said another student. “Also speak with emotion. If you’re mad, your voice should be louder to express that.”

A third student warned them not to speak really fast because it would sound like mumble jumble.

“These are some great tips,” responded Johnson. “We will make sure to remember them when we’re on stage. Before we go to the auditorium, do you guys have any questions for us?”

“Do you guys get to choose what team you play for,” asked one student.

“When we enter the league, we don’t have control of where we play but it’s an honor and privilege to play for any team,” answered Johnson. “There are only 450 players in the NBA. We are all from different states, different countries, but come together to play this great sport.”

Another student inquired, “How long have you been playing basketball?”

“I’ve been playing since I was out of the womb,” laughed Dooling. “There are photos of me as a baby with a basketball. Coming from humble surroundings, basketball was an outlet for me. We all have different talents. The key is to identify your talent early and work to perfect it. You guys can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.”

Following Dooling’s words, it was time to perform the play for the entire school. The play centered on bullying. The topic was appropriate as bullying has been dominant in the headlines lately. Dressed in a wig, Johnson played Paula, a bully, and Dooling played Larry, an ally.

The play went well and the audience cheered as the actors being bullied stood up for themselves and everyone came to a resolution.

Before Dooling and Johnson left after the play had ended, each of them spoke to the school about bullying.

“In elementary school, I was never a victim of bullying but I witnessed it,” said Johnson. “I remember watching my friends treat others badly. Even though I wasn’t participating, if I didn’t tell my friends what they were doing was wrong, I would have been just as guilty of bullying as they were. I told my friends what they were doing wasn’t right and that they should apologize. In the end, they did. I’m telling you this because you all should never sit back and watch as someone is getting bullied.”

Dooling added, “Life is all about choices. You all have a responsibility to protect and build people up. Ask yourself what type of person do you want to be? Lift people up, not down. Being a bully is whack!”

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