MADISON, Wis. – High schoolers travel all over the Madison school district to perform skits about social issues and spread compassion.

What You Need To Know

  • Multico is a student theater group based at Madison West High School

  • The group has been around for almost three decades

  • They go from school to school doing performances for younger students 

  • Their skits are about social issues, and can be deeply personal

Multico is a program for theater students at Vel Phillips Memorial High School. Students who choose to take it spend the first quarter discussing things like racism, gender identity and disabilities. They write their own skits based on their own experiences.

“The skits are a platform for educators to start more communication and dialogue in regards to those social issues,” said Memorial theater teacher and Multico adviser Holly Gerou. “Every skit is based on a student’s experience that they’ve had with that particular social issue.”

The program has been around for nearly three decades. Gerou actually took it over from her own theater teacher when she was in high school, Rebecca Jallings.

Some are about pronouns; others are about language barriers.

“It might be racism, it might be prejudice, it might be socioeconomic differences, it might be gender, it might be sexuality, but they’re all within the same tree of power,” Gerou said. “Kids really get an understanding of what that dynamic is, and also how to communicate in instances where they might not agree with someone.”

Multico performs for elementary and middle schoolers. They choose or adapt sketches for each show to ensure they are age appropriate for that audience.

“Being able to do shows for little kids, and teach them about compassion, kindness, and how to treat others … just makes me feel happy,” said Multico member Josh Tossenau.

Some stories are deeply personal. They can include painful moments of prejudice and judgment.

“It’s actually been really healing for a lot of students to be able to tell their stories and shed light on it,” Gerou said. “They’re seeing other our audience who have gone through the same thing, or are going through the same thing.”

In the performance, Ash Stenger talks about their childhood, when their dad went to prison for a year and a half.

“For my experience with my dad, for that bad experience to go on and make people feel less alone is really amazing,” Stenger said.

After each performance, Multico members visit students in classrooms for Q&A sessions where the floor is open for students to be curious and ask about their experiences. Gerou said it can be a jumping off point to have deeper conversations.