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Jonesboro girl's play debuts in Atlanta this weekend

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

On Saturday, the creative vision of Mary-Pat Hector, a 10 year-old Jonesboro girl, will become reality through a live stage play.

"Easy Street Ain't So Easy," will premiere at North Atlanta High School on 2875 Northside Dr., N.W., in Atlanta at 6 p.m.

The play, which is in the process of being made into a film by a local film company, deals with sexual abuse and self mutilation, problems many young girls face, but are afraid to talk about. The plot is based-on real-life events, in which a neighborhood friend confided to Hector about being sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend.

In the play, Easy Street is the name of a street in an affluent neighborhood in which a group of young friends live, all of whom are cheerleaders in middle school. Peaches, played by Hector, is the protagonist and the most outspoken of the girls.

At home, however, Peaches faces a mother too busy with work to notice her boyfriend's abuse against her daughter. In desperation, Peaches cuts herself.

"It doesn't always take place in a bad neighborhood," said Hector, who is home-schooled. "It can happen pretty much anywhere. They burn themselves, cut themselves, hit their heads on walls ... they'd rather feel that pain than the pain that they are going through.

"I'm trying to reach out to the parents and let them know that they need to stop buying time with their children and start spending time with their children," Hector continued. "If you don't listen to your children, something like this can happen and break up the family."

In July and September of last year, Hector performed in the gospel play, "Deliverance in the House," produced by Take Heed Productions, an Atlanta-based theater production company which makes gospel and prevention-based plays.

In August of 2007, Hector approached husband-and-wife team Bobby Peoples and Renee Warren-Peoples -- CEO of The Peoples Film Company and artistic director of Take Heed Productions, respectively -- with $75 of her savings, and a script, seeking their help in translating the script for stage and film.

After reading the script, Warren-Peoples took on the project free of charge.

"She is writing a play that stands for what we believe in," said Warren-Peoples. "She wants to make a difference in her community. If this is what it takes to get the message across, this is what we will do."

Partial proceeds from Saturday's play will go to Covenant House, a homeless shelter for abused children. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for people in groups of 10 or more.

Filming for the screen adaptation of the play is set for March, according to those involved. For more information, go to www.easystreetaintsoeasy.com, or call (678) 508-7163.