Lesson 1: All Hamzas are Late.
Elena and Shira kept gushing over how this big shot actor dude was going to come to our rehearsal and teach us something. I never heard of him or saw him. His first impression wasn’t good since he was late. Not awfully late, but still late. All people named Hamza are always late (Cardinal Rule #1). That’s okay though; if a Hamza in your life is early, something is terribly wrong.
SExT is thrilled to be partnering with Ophea to deliver FREE theatre performances created and performed by youth for youth for GTA secondary schools connecting to H&PE, Drama and Language studies! Performances run May 10 – 26 at the Factory Theatre and a stipend is available to support transportation costs.
Limited spots still available! Sign your school group up now: https://www.ophea.net/node/6846
Nearly three years ago, I walked into one of Toronto’s most diverse and populated high schools with the crazy idea of making sex education more comprehensive, relevant, and impactful, by finding a group of youth willing to sing and dance about it. Last month, I sat next to the Premier of Ontario as we watched a group of the bravest and most dedicated humans I know sing and dance a packed house through everything from periods to chlamydia and homophobia to multiculturalism, eliciting belly laughs and quiet tears.
Before this show debuted at the Toronto Fringe, SExT had a few semi-private shows for the youth at Flemingdon Park. The scene that resonated the most with audiences was one about domestic violence, performed and created by Mary Getachew, Saad Ilyas, and Michelle Nyamekye. After one of these performances, a young audience member approached a teacher about that scene in particular and asked for help. I’d like to think there were more who also did the same.
SExT opens in two more days at the Toronto Fringe Festival! And just to whet your appetite, here's a brand new trailer! If you are curious as to what the "10 steps to putting a condom on" are, come see our show at the Annex Theatre and Beyoncé will give you the low down! Happy Fringe-ing everyone!
*Special thanks to Jacqueline Andrade for creating this awesome video!
Can we get a "HELL YA!" to all the female directors, writers and creators at this year's Fringe Festival?!
Thank you to Alysa Pires, Polynomials, and Derrick Chua for counting the 81 shows at this year's Fringe Festival written, created, directed, and choreographed by over 138 women!
Why is it important that we keep track of this? Last year the Globe and Mail cited under 35% of women in key creative roles in Canadian theatre with only 22% of female playwrights with productions in the previous season. Women account for less than 25% of Canada's produced playwrights even thought they form half the membership of Playwrights Guild of Canada.
And while the female voice is under-represented, women still form the majority of theatre-school graduates, support workers and audience members. Women are not the ones in control of their stories.
This is why the #FringeFemmeTO list is important. And I am proud to say that "SExT" is ON THAT LIST!
Here's a run down of the women with key creative and production titles in our show:
Our cast of 13 has 8 women of which 7 are also of a visible minority. The cast has also created this show with Shira Taylor, meaning these women are also writers and choreographers.
I've been directed by two women in my theatre career. I am actively looking for more women to work with because I can tell the difference when there is no female voice in the rehearsal hall. I have been shut down in rehearsals for "thinking about it too much" when I asked a question and then reassured with "the purpose of your character is to serve [male character's name here]'s storyline." I've read scripts that have offended me as a woman, particularly as a woman belonging to a visible minority. I've also experienced sexual harassment at work because a male director wanted me to understand "who this woman is". There was not a single woman on the creative team when this happened and nobody else made a complaint except me. I felt alone and quite frankly, powerless.
WE NEED MORE FEMALE DIRECTORS. WRITERS. CREATORS. It is my goal to prioritize all the shows on the #FemmeTO list ... it should be yours too! So take a look at the list below (as compiled by Derrick Chua) and Happy Fringe-ing!
A Bitter Shrew (late addition, replaces Soul’s Retrograde on p. 21). By Gillian English
A Good Death (p. 18). By Shelley Hobbs
A Lover Improper (p. 62). By Arianne Shaffer
A Thousand Kindnesses (p. 18). By Rachel Jury
All KIDding Aside (p. 18). By Christel Bartelse
Alpha Delta 86 (p. 50). By Kiva Murphy and Filipa Mendes
Angels & Aliens (p. 60). Co-written by Sydney Hayduk
Asiansploitation: Be More Pacific (p. 58). Co-written by Tiffany Kwan, Ellie Posadas
Birthday Cake (p. 62). By Sarah Marchand
Bright Lights (p. 14). By Kat Sandler
Cam Baby (p. 66). By Jessica Moss
Candy & Shelley Go to the Desert (p. 52). By Paula Cizmar
Common Ground (p. 54). By Susan Magerman and Michelle Brightman
Curious Contagious (p. 66). By Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel
Damn Tank (p. 66). Co-written by Maaor Ziv
Dance Animal: Toronto (p. 14). With monologues by Robin Henderson, Kat Letwin, Allison Price, Carol Zoccoli. Created and choreographed by Robin Henderson.
Dario et la Diablesse: A Caribbean Musical (p. 24). Written by Sasky Louison
Daughters of Feminists (p. 74). Created / songs by Barbara Johnston, Suzy Wilde, Anika Johnson, Nancy White
Denmarked (p. 50). Adapted by Carina Gaspar
Downtown Jay (p. 11). By Joan Jamieson
Eraser (p. 74). Co-written by Christol Bryan, Deanna Galati, Victoria Gubiani
Everything Else Is Sold Out (p. 54). Co-written by Claire Farmer, Jessica Greco, Shannon Lahaie
Evolution / Mr. Truth (p. 26). Evolution choreographed by Angela Blumberg. Mr. Truth written by Lauren Gillis and Alaine Hutton
Exterminating Angel (p. 24). Choreographed by Alysa Pires
Falling Awake (p. 18). Co-written by Nayana Fielkov
False Start (p. 52). By Nicole Hrgetic
Far Away (p. 60). By Caryl Churchill, choreographed by Patricia Allison
For the Record (p. 72). By Shari Hollett
Fractals (p. 62). By Krista White
Game 7 (p. 58). Co-written by Magdalena BB
Getting Odd (p. 68). By Holly Wyder and Allison Harris
God of Carnage (p. 55). By Yasmina Reza
Happiness™ (p. 61). Co-written by Madeleine Boyes-Manseau
How May I Mate You? (p. 61). By Jenna Naulls, Kelsey Wilkinson and Kelsey Johnston
I Want to Be (p. 11). Book by Alex Karolyi. Music & Lyrics co-written by Lisa Sonshine
In Gods We Trust (p. 24). Co-written by Satinder Besrai, Kerri Salata, with further material co-written by Diane Baker Mason
(in)decision (p. 26). Co-written by Tamlynn Bryson
lza the Brave (p. 11). Co-written by Amaka Umeh, Jada Rifkin, Micaela Comeau, Maiza Dubhé, Samantha Chaulk, Sarah Marchand
Knots (p. 67). Co-written by Lucy Meanwell
Life After (p. 61). By Britta Johnson
Like a Fly in Amber (p. 15). By Karen Kelm
Little Fires (p. 67). Choreographed by Karíssa Fyrrar, Lucy Rupert
Little Pricks (p. 54). By Denise Norman
Lyricas Presents: Creature Slaying... (p. 55). Co-written by Elisha DiFabio
Man & Son: Ladies First (p. 55). By Felicity Penman and Carolyn Williamson
#MannequinGirl: The Musical (p. 50). By Eliza Blue Musselwhite in collaboration with Alyssa Minichillo
My silly yum! (p. 11). By Alexandra Montagnese and Gabriela Petrov
Perk up, pianist! (p. 20). By Sarah Hagen
Persephone (p. 55). Co-collectively created by Claren Grosz, Jacklyn Francis, Laura Hayes, Sydney Herauf, Keshia Palm, Sheree Spencer
Pirates Don't Babysit! (p. 12). By Barb Scheffler
Plays In Cates (p. 73). Co-written by Alex Karolyi, Sheila Toller
Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical (p. 26). By Jane Austen and Penny Ashton
Rated R (p. 26). Choreographed by Aria Evans
Saor (Free) (p. 19). By Carlyn Rhamey
#scarecrow (p. 59). By Chantel McDonald
Scenes from Plays I Never Wrote (p. 61). By Greta Papageorgiu
Self-Exile p. 21). By Nisha Coleman
SExT (p. 51). Created by Shira Taylor
Shecky's Yoga Sequel (p. 72). Co-written by Shana Sandler
Silk Bath (p. 15). Co-written by Bessie Chang, Gloria Mok
Songbuster ·An Improvised Musical (p. 27). Co-created by Stephanie Malek, Ashley Comeau, Tricia Black, Alexandra Hurley
That Joyce Girl (p. 67). By Kate Cattell-Daniels
The End (p. 51). By Miriam Drysdale
The Fence (p. 27). By Anika Johnson, Barbara Johnston, Suzy Wilde, choreographed by Honey Frid, Danielle Devereaux
The Funky Punckies (p. 12). By Stavria Thalassi & Katarina Lazic
The Stage Manager's Guide to Dating Assholes (p. 15). By Scarlett Larry
The Unending - 3 short plays (p. 73). Co-written by Julie Tepperman
To Jane With Love (p. 25). By Deon Denton
Tonight's Cancelled (p. 51). Co-written by Stacey McGunnigle
True Blue (late addition, replaces Mieux Vaut Mourir Heureux on page 59). Co-created / improvised by Amy Matysio, Aurora Browne, Paloma Nuñez, Shanda Bezic, Jocelyn Geddie
(un)boxed (p. 51). Created by Jannine Saarinen, featuring the work of Jen Hum, Lisa Quaning, Jamee Valin
Waiting For Waiting For Godot (p. 25). Co-written by Molly McGregor
Wasteland (p. 27). Co-written by Kaitlin Morrow
Water Wonders (p. 75). By Cheryl McNamara
We Are XX (p. 63). By Rafia Salam, Anne Vo and Samay Arcentales
What?! You're A Medium?! (p. 53). By Carolyn Molnar
Wild/Society (p. 15). By Mika Laulainen
Wireless Connection (p. 25). Choreographed by Amy Adams, Kylie Thompson
Women (p. 51). By Chiara Atik
YellowZoned (p. 63). By Alia Ettienne
"Ze". queer as f*ck! (p. 21). By Michelle Lunicke
- Post by Elena Juatco - Actor & Creative Facilitator
Bo is a literal ray of sunshine. She made me feel as though I am this phenomenal undiscovered contemporary dancer. She was open to suggestions and fed off of some of the ideas we gave her for moves. Working with an amazing dancer who makes you feel good enough to be dancing her beautifully choreographed piece means more than words can properly express.
“Young people’s energy inspires me, revitalizes me, and reminds me of why I started doing the work that I love.” – Bo
If you're ever looking for a ray of sunshine who is an incredible dancer and an even more incredible
person, Bo is that person, and this is how I feel after just two days of working with her.
Thanks Bo, for bringing out the inner dance star in us!
- Post by Michelle Nyamekye, SExT Cast Member & Assistant Stage Manager
“Young people inspire me, challenge me, and continue to make me curious. This particular young cast are particularly inspiring since they are taking risks to share hot-button issues in an often funny, but always open-hearted way.” - Debora Joy
Debora Joy, (award-winning Toronto voice, singing and executive coach, who has taught the likes of Rachel. McAdams.), sat in on a mini-show we put on just before rehearsals last week, and provided us with an hour-and- a-half of incredible, incredible vocal work! Of the things she taught us in that session, here are three of the (many) things that jumped out to me:
1. Box Breathing for Nerves: Now this is a form of controlled breathing designed to calm your body’s natural response (the “Fight-or- flight” response). As someone with anxiety, I know this very well; as a performer, it never occurred to me that those breathing exercises could actually be the calming-push I need to get over the pre-show nerves. The more you know, right?
2. “Instant Forgiveness”: I’m a perfectionist, and this lesson is one I constantly forget. I was so grateful to be reminded that getting out of your head onstage is the only way to stay in the moment. Fumble a line? Forgive, and keep on! Miss a cue? Forgive and keep on! The show must go on, and the only way that happens is if the actors keep going on too.
3. “You’ve got what it takes”: This was a lesson gifted by way of a particularly powerful exercise that Deb ran with the group. As we all stood in a circle (after doing a variety of on-and- off-the-floor breathing exercises), she had everyone pick one of their own lines, and had us each say them to her. Without skipping a beat, she provided us all personalised feedback on how to deliver our lines better, and walked us through our lines again using that feedback. The take-away? We all definitely had everything we needed to deliver with a bang – we just didn’t know it (until the wondrous Deb highlighted it for us!)!
I’m always so appreciative of everyone who takes the time out of their schedules and lives in general to come and share their expertise and wisdom with us. Thank you so much, Deb; here’s hoping we see you soon (breathing in and out in the moment as we always should)!
- Post by Mary Getachew, SExT Cast Member & Assistant Social Media Coordinator
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
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
Now open for submissions
Have a great idea for a blog post? We want to hear from you! Email us at email@example.com