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UMF students honor Charlie Howard in one-act play

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FARMINGTON - Many residents in and around Bangor know all too well the events that led to the unfortunate death of 23-year-old Charlie Howard. Now his tragic story will be shared with the University of Maine Farmington community during a one-act play called 'Bridge.'

"This isn't just one town's narrative," said Jayne Decker, the play's writer and director. "Every community should own this story so people can understand that this type of behavior can happen to anyone, anywhere."

In 1984, Howard was beaten by three teenagers for being openly gay. The teens then tossed the Bangor resident over the State Street bridge and into the Kenduskeag stream, where he had an asthma attack and drowned. It's a hate crime that has not only haunted but tarnished the beauty of the Queen city for more than 25 years.

"It's important not to be silent when these things happen and that we learn from these stories," said Decker.

Decker's play was developed during a theater workshop at UMF and tells the story of a young man, named Howard, who is bullied for being gay. Decker said the play shows that personal and societal responsibilities go hand-in-hand.

"Sharing them on stage helps us think about our decisions and actions and how they affect our lives and our community," she said.

'Bridge,' which contains adult language, is approximately 40 minutes in length and is free and open to the public. It will be performed April 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Emery Community Arts Center on the University of Maine Farmington campus. Decker hopes her original play will be picked up and performed at schools and theaters throughout the state.

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