Wow. A mini-version of SExT was just performed at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute (MGCI) today (in light of Sexual Assault Awareness Week), and ya, pre-show nerves are natural and they’re nothing a good breathing exercise won’t cut through, but today? Today was something else. I don’t know where to begin to explain how important, re-inspiring and just plain successful today was. So here it goes:
We are a collective who are taking the stories and opinions and truths of our community and putting it out for the world to see, as we have intermittently these past two years. We advocate and essentially stand for our community, and much more: our peers. We do what we do because, ultimately, we want the information and messages we convey to be digestible. To be welcomed into schools, like ours.
For many of us in the cast, MGCI was at some point (for some still is) a stomping ground; it’s our high school. For others still, the neighbouring surroundings are home. One thing’s for certain: it’s a lot of familiar faces and people I’ve definitely crossed paths with (even just shoulder-checked in my rush to class).
So when you’re faced with putting on a show for the very people you are representing AND ALSO trying to reach your message to? Well, that puts a different kind of nerves in you. Will they like it? Will they laugh? Will they get us? Are we readable? Have we been doing our peers justice? On a personal level, my anxiety was through the roof. And yet, when I entered that library, and saw those familiar faces, I was nothing less than ready: ready to see our new cast members dip their feet into our well-acquainted waters, and ready to show my pseudo-home what I’d been doing for the last two years with this project.
As an original-and-ongoing cast member, I can’t explain to you how moving and exciting it was to see our recently-inducted cast not just shine, but become family in the oh-my-goodness-we-did-it high that comes after every show. But I wasn’t just stoked at their incredible performance; I was blown away by our reception. There were easily 50+ students and faculty present, and every single one of them were engaged and in the moment with us (our talk-back even consisted of healthy, heated debate around consent). All of our cultural markers resonated even deeper, and that rush of community came flooding back in a wash of nostalgia and just gratitude.
On top of that: Shira had chosen MGCI to be the home-base for her PhD, and for the first time, she was able to show her work’s worth within school walls; we, the former and current students and humans of the community, were able to show what the arts can do when combined with passion and a will to teach.
There’s something to be said about coming full circle, and, though I still can’t put words to it, I can safely say we did just that today.
Fringe and Summerworks? Get ready for us. This ball’s still rolling and we’ve just picked up some fresh steam.
Follow us @SExTEdShow / #SExTEd
- Post by Mary Getachew, SExT Cast Member & Assistant Social Media Coordinator
The year I met him, I made a New Year's resolution: I will only be in loving, healthy relationships.
Until then I had continuously found myself in a pattern of heartbreak and disappointment. I must be inviting these kinds of men into my life, I thought. I can't put up with this anymore.
I was desperate to start fresh. I needed to cleanse myself of all relationships where I felt guilty over wanting things that made me happy, insecure about myself, and like I wasn't enough. I was tired of trying to get boys to like me. I wanted to be in a relationship that didn't exhaust me mentally and emotionally all the time.
So I made a list of 98 things that I wanted in a man (not joking). These things ranged from the deep and personal (must have strong sense of social responsibility) to the questionably superficial (must enjoy food as much as I do). Then I dreamt about what it would be like to be in that loving relationship. It was my first real exercise in manifesting my desires and projecting out to the Universe exactly what I wanted.
And then I met him. And it wasn't long into the relationship that I realized: Wow. THIS is what a healthy relationship feels like! How did I put up with anything else before this?
My Top 5 "AHA!" moments that I was in a Healthy Relationship:
1. I share my dreams and my fears with him. And I don't hold back.
In previous relationships, I found myself compromising or downplaying my dreams for another person. Men were often intimidated that I travelled so much in my work and that I loved doing it. I remember once telling a frustrated boyfriend that "I'm not going to want to be an actress forever!" (HUGE red flag went up, but I ignored it for a few more months longer before we ended things.) The moment I was able to tell my biggest dreams to my partner and not be afraid that he would run away, I knew that I was in a relationship that was different.
When I went through rough times, it felt different too: he listened to me and I felt like he was going through it with me. In other relationships, I felt a disconnect - like my boyfriend was just waiting for me to stop crying and cheer up because it made him uncomfortable. Now being able to share my highs and lows like this with my partner makes me feel less alone and more optimistic for the future.
2. I stop trying to make him like me.
When we try to get people to like us, we censor ourselves. We are conscious of what we say, how we act, and how we dress among other things. It's a freeing feeling when you realize that you don't need to worry about that anymore. That all those genuine things that make you you are seen, not ignored, and even loved.
3. He's weird with me.
He dances in the kitchen with me. He freestyles with me to random songs in the car. We talk in accents. He loves it when I go somewhere like Medieval Times and scream like a crazy person. His weirdness matches my weirdness. It's weird and it's awesome.
We're all a little weird
4. I'm more creative than I've ever been.
I stopped writing songs after my last break up. But when I met him, I picked up the guitar again. A year later, I finally finished my first album that included a song I wrote about him (my first love song!). I was doing some of my best work in my career. I was taking more classes and fine-tuning my Art. I was painting. I was writing ... I'm still writing :)
5. He is my best friend. And my other best friends are still my best friends.
He is without a doubt my best friend: the person I go to for advice and the first person I tell when I have news, good or bad. But the best friends I had before I met him are STILL my best friends. I still get my quality time with my besties and they are still an important part of my life. I didn't have to sacrifice or minimize friendships to have a relationship.
A healthy relationship is not about having the same life as your partner; it is not a love where you consume each other and rely on each other for existence and a healthy well-being. A healthy relationship is one where you SHARE your life together. Individually you are strong, beautiful people and together you shine even brighter.
You do you, boo. And comment below on whether I missed anything on my list. xo
- Post by Elena Juatco, Actor & SExT Creative Facilitator
What is acting?
Acting is pretending to be someone else. Acting is stepping into someone else’s shoes and walking around in them for a while - for a scene, for a song, for a dance. Acting uses your imagination. It’s creating an entire life and story for someone that isn’t yourself.
When I am given a character to play, I ask myself: What does this person want and how do I connect with that? I start with what I know. I’ve played a mother but have never had a child; though I do know what it is like to love someone fiercely and need to protect them (I also have a dog who is the center of my being). I’ve played a doctor but have never gone through med school, and yet I do know what it’s like to work hard for something and be passionate about what you do. Before I know it, I’ve created a whole world and a whole life for this character that is rooted in something that is honest and truthful to me because I invested in the character and I used my imagination. The emotions I feel are real. I love all the characters I play (yes, even the bad guys!).
Acting is therefore an exercise in empathy. It helps us understand each other. It challenges us to put away our judgements and really think about another person’s wants, fears, insecurities, and dreams. When we understand each other, we accept each other for our differences. If we are not willing to do this, we grow fearful and resentful of what we do not know and this leads to hatred and violence.
This is why I think theatre and the Arts are essential in high school. We can learn historical facts and memorize data from a book, but what we miss out on is the capacity to understand ourselves and one another as human beings.
Science saves lives but the Arts are what we live for.
I am passionate about SExT because I believe that we as a society can do better. I hate what I read in the news. I’ve seen bullying, harassment and domestic violence on the streets and people afraid to intervene or speak up. I know too many people in controlling and/or abusive relationships. The youth want to talk about sex. We as a society are silencing them and shaming them and this is what leads to unhealthy expressions of sex: violence against women, bullying, homophobia, and self harm. I have seen first hand what the power of acting has done for the youth at SExT. These young performers’ abilities to empathize with each other, see a different point of view, and then speak out about it inspires me. If they are able to do this, what are the rest of us capable of?
Comment below and tell us what acting teaches you that books don't!
- Post by Elena Juatco, Actor & SExT Creative Facilitator
Rehearsals are well into swing and the cast is now preparing for their upcoming show at Marc Garneau Collegiate for Sexual Violence Awareness Week. From time to time, we have guest artists come in to teach some workshops and this past Friday it was all about Improv with Second City's Josh Murray.
"Honestly I find today's youth hilarious. They've only been exposed to a new world that is so rapidly changing and their views on life are refreshing and often downright funny." - Josh Murray.
Eye Contact. Be Engaging. Focus.
Three things the cast will be applying to their work and to their lives.
Thanks Josh for coming to visit SExT and for telling us to jump in, to try something new, and to listen to each other. And thanks again for the laughs!
- Post by Elena Juatco, SExT Creative Facilitator
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