Eric Coble’s Swagger, a play commissioned by PBD for its One Humanity Tour, recently completed its third annual fall tour to Palm Beach County middle schools. Sixth graders in 21 schools – a total of 8,500 students – had the opportunity to see the play, which aims to contribute to the development of informed, thoughtful, and compassionate citizens, with an emphasis on empathy. The tour has been seen by 19,600 students since it was launched in 2017.

Swagger is about an incident involving three characters: Jordan, an eighth-grade student; Daniel, a police officer; and Leela, a small business owner. Their lives intersect in a fateful scene captured on video, and Coble affords each of them the opportunity to share their perspective on what took place.  
Responses from the students illustrate the power of theatre to affect lives. ZJ from Pahokee Middle School wrote, “My favorite part was when officer Daniel was chasing Jordan. My least favorite part was when Jordan had to go to the hospital when he got a head injury. Jordan was my favorite character. Yes, the play changed my thoughts about empathy because I felt bad for Jordan.”

Kaylee at Osceola Creek Middle School said, “ Swagger was amazing. I love that it taught empathy. With Leela, Daniel, and Jordan I realized it was equally everybody’s fault. If I hadn’t learned empathy, I would have thought it was the officer’s fault. I wish you could come again. You were great.”

Gabrielle from Osceola Creek added, “I really enjoyed the show, and how you guys really showed the meaning of empathy. The meaning of empathy is to be in someone’s shoes.”