On June 3rd SExT had the pleasure of performing for Jane Street Hub as part of their Community Info Fair, highlighting sexual health as well as health and wellness in the African, Caribbean, Black, and Latino communities. The event included resources, community services, workshops, counsellors, performances (wink-wink), and anonymous testing for STIs. Having a safe space for conversations on these stigmatized topics such as STIs and mental health, and having it be accessible to everyone, is so incredibly important. I would like to thank the organizers for this.
Performing a poem on stereotypes, rapping about cultural identity, and talking about consent and STI testing (among other things) is always very powerful in itself, but having people come up to us afterwards sharing how they relate to our show is absolutely amazing. People wanting us to perform at more community events and speaking up about these issues is liberating and a great reminder of why we at SExT are all so passionate about our message of inclusivity and acceptance.
Our group also attended a session on stigma, and let me tell you, I could never get tired of listening to my peers share their stories about stigma. One cast member shared his account of navigating his mental health with his father, who at first didn’t understand, and is now the one to advocate to his own friends about mental health resources. As I listened to the people in the room open up, the air got lighter with each person’s story being told. Seeing this kind of environment being fostered gives me hope that one day everyone can find comfort and liberation in being able to share their own experiences.
After the session on stigma, we listened to a panel of five brave individuals speak about being HIV positive. Let’s just say it got real deep. Hearing the personal accounts of a young woman born with HIV, a gay man having to keep his sexuality a secret, and a trans woman’s story about accepting her HIV, is so inspiring. Hearing their accounts of the stigma they have experienced and their journeys overcoming it, is so freaking inspiring. One of the women on the panel even took an HIV test in front of us to demonstrate how easy the process is and to encourage others to take charge of their health and get tested. She encouraged others to reclaim their power, to be knowledgeable about their sexual health, and not to stay hidden in shame. I was able to witness the stories of those who suffered in secret, now opening themselves up to a room of strangers. I don’t know how on earth they did it, but I’m so happy they did. I know many people in the room found hope from hearing these stories coming from people sitting right in front of them, smiling and proud of who they have become.
As the discussion of stigma continued, I got to hear more cast members open up. One person spoke of his experience about being gay and adopted. Another shared her story of having depression and trying to understand why her mom doesn’t understand. Her mother grew up in a different country in a different time, and might have even dealt with mental illness herself not knowing what it was. More people opened up about a great range of stigma they have faced, and hearing that everyone has a story is a forceful truth. Some people cried, because it was moving, you know? It was helpful to see people who had overcome stigma now living life on their own terms. Everyone on the panel agreed they are living better by not caring what others say about who they are, by not giving in to the stigma, and by speaking out about their experiences.
The host also shared a story about the stigma surrounding her hair. She explained how she had been wearing straight hair since she was 12 years old. She spent a lot of time growing it out, and the day came when she said, “Okay, I’m going to do my hair today”. She spent over a day on it, and looked in the bathroom mirror feeling fabulous. She came out of the bathroom and her boyfriend said, “Oh, I thought you were going to do your hair.” Everyone in the room gasped and I saw slacked jaws, in utter shock. The host just laughed and said all that was needed was to have a discussion about it, and it was a very good discussion. She learned that his mom never wore her hair natural, his sister always had straight hair, and all his girlfriends wore their hair straight. The point is that some people don’t even know they are perpetuating stigma. We just need to educate them.
I feel like this is where SExT can come in. The reason I love our show so much is because it is not our place to judge, but to educate using our stories and allow people to be free to choose as they wish. As our director Shira always says: If everyone agreed on everything, our program wouldn’t need to exist.
When it comes to stigma, we can all do our best to not perpetuate it and to educate ourselves. Hearing everyone's stories at Jane Street Hub is an experience I will hold close to my heart, and I will always remember moments like this when we were able to discuss stigmatized topics such as sexual health in a safe space. Respectful discussion really is that powerful. I know I talked about some “heavier” topics, but the event was really fun as well! Although there were some tears, there was lots of laughter as well and great energy. Being able to express ourselves and having people support it means everything in the world.
Anyone in any group can experience stigma, and it is important that we do not give in to stigma and rise above it. I know, so mushy, but it’s true. When we all come together and have a respectful discussion without shutting down opposing views and instead giving everyone a voice, that is when real change happens. That is what I hope we can accomplish with SExT.
- Post by Emma Wheaton, Assistant Director & SExT Cast Member
We here at SExT love supporting similar-minded projects that aim to spark dialogue about sexual health and healthy relationships within the community. Nuance is a project by NU which strives to create a space for diverse stories (blogs, art, poetry) about sex and sexual health that bring in cultural and religious perspectives from Newcomer, Immigrant and Second Generation Youth (NISY).
Starting in Toronto and the GTA, NU wants to connect individuals with relevant resources to make navigating our sometimes complex health system easier. Ultimately, NU aims to operate at the intersection of what it means to be NISY, Canadian and sexual health-focused.
If you identify as a Newcomer, Immigrant, and/or Second Generation Canadian, submit your story to Nuance and you could win $200 worth of cash and prizes! Deadline to submit is February 28, 2017.
You can make your submissions and learn more about NU at www.nuhere.org/share-your-story
We know what social media is saying: 2016 was a bad year. We lost music legends and film stars, mourned victims of war, political unrest and hate crimes, and there has been an increase in violence and hate speech. Even The Walking Dead is bringing us down to emotional depths we've never experienced before (DAMN YOU NEGAN).
Perhaps SExT came out when the world needed hope the most, because 2016 was by far our strongest year. In 2016 SExT grew from a get-together in a small room at the the Flemingdon Health Centre to a semi-private show at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute that sparked a passionate debate about consent among the students, to a critically-acclaimed Toronto Fringe and Summerworks phenomenon. The grants we received from the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council enabled us to grow as a production and enlist the help of several local professionals to put on a show that received a "NNNN" review and Critic's Pick from NOW Magazine and a Best Ensemble recognition from The Torontoist. We performed for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne whose emotional response to the show left us validated and inspired to continue our work to reach ever larger audiences. Recently, Toronto Mayor John Tory dropped by our rehearsal to pump us up for our performance at the Willowdale Winter Fest.
SExT began three years ago as a dialogue among high school students who wanted to talk about sexuality as it related to them and their communities. When creator Shira Taylor first came to Marc Garneau Collegiate, she was told that she would have a hard time amassing a group of students who would be interested in this project. Now the SExT family is stronger than ever and after our most exciting year yet, we are ready for more exciting ventures to continue in 2017. Stay tuned! And Happy New Year! :)
- Post by Elena Juatco, SExT Creative Facilitator
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.
It is challenging to adequately articulate what the experience of creating and sharing SExT: Sex Education by Theatre has meant to me and the youth involved.
I could tell you about my first visit to Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, located in an immigration destination of Toronto. How I asked a young male student what he thought of my idea and how he responded that no girl in this religious community would be willing to talk about sex. How his comment led me to a girls’ gym class where a young girl interrupted my spiel by shooting her hand up to say that she wanted in. How her enthusiasm spread throughout the class and how I filled every scrap of paper in my purse with the contact information of young women craving a space to talk openly about these issues, and maybe even sing about them. I could try to describe the feeling of seeing that same girl lighting up the stage three years later, confidently and poetically speaking her truths on mental health, racism, and challenging stereotypes.
I could tell you about the first application I read, written by a girl who spoke of an intense passion for dance, but a lack of access to training - a common issue in the community. How she wrote of teaching herself to dance and offering free dance lessons to other youth at the library. I could describe the joy in the room this summer, when a dancer from the Toronto Raptors came in as a guest artist. How that same girl took the lead on choreographing a cultural dance scene, created to showcase the beauty of diversity and the struggle of identity.
I could tell you how in one of our first workshops, I made the mistake of giving the teens free reign to create a scene on pregnancy options. How this error led me to develop a new, more structured drama exercise, challenging the youth to put themselves in the shoes of a pregnant teen, her mom, and boyfriend. How one charismatic boy volunteered to play the pregnant girl. How after that exercise, the students expressed new understandings and empathy for the perspectives of teen mothers and their parents.
I could tell you about the day every student insisted on staying late to ask as many questions as they could of the opposite gender. How I laughed to myself as I recalled the resistance I had encountered in insisting this program be open to all genders.
I could tell you about that week back in July 2014 when we pulled together our first performance. How I had been advised to expect a high drop-out rate and to accept 15 students into the program if I wanted a cast of 10. How I finished the school-year 19 students strong. How half of youth participants got full time jobs or enrolled in summer school, but not one dropped out. How one group would rehearse from 9 to 5, and the other group would come straight from a full day of work/school to rehearse into the late hours of the evening. How some students chose to stay for 12 hour days. How many of the youth were fasting at this time in observing Ramadan. How we lacked access to rehearsal space over the weekend, so the youth insisted on meeting in valleys and parking lots to rehearse, even in the pouring rain.
I could tell you about the message I received during frosh week from a young man saying that he “didn’t get laid” because of our consent scene. How his experience developing that scene gave him pause when it came to an encounter with a girl too intoxicated to consent. How the program played a role in helping another cast member leave a dangerous situation. How that same cast member insisted on courageously and safely channeling her experience into a song that, when performed at her high school, led another young girl in the audience to come forward to her teacher about an abusive situation.
I could tell you that I secretly shared the youth performers’ insecurities regarding how our performance would be received at their high school, among peers who didn’t choose to attend. How I watched as an audience of high school students laughed hysterically as Captain Condom and Hipster Herpes took the stage, muttered with recognition as a scene on homophobia at home was performed partially in Urdu, and debated passionately after a court case scene tackling consent was left open-ended. How a number of youth reported that this performance changed their views on gay and trans people and sexual assault. How all of this took place steps away from the hub of the protests opposing sex education reform in the wake of the first curriculum update in Ontario since 1998.
I could tell you about the feeling of having our show accepted into the Toronto Fringe and SummerWorks, two of Canada’s largest performance festivals. About finding out that I had been selected to receive a TD Michaëlle Jean Foundation Bursary to continue this work. How we received project funding from the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils. How this funding provided the opportunity to expose the youth to a number of guest artists to enrich their development. How our little show took the big festival stage by storm, receiving rave reviews from established theatre critics (4 stars, Critic’s Pick, Best Ensemble - NOW Magazine; Exceptional Ensemble - The Torontoist) and was commended for bringing diversity to the Toronto stage and showing what young people are capable of. How the youth eloquently shared intimate insights into their personal challenges and triumphs with entire audiences in our post-performance question and answer periods. How a number of audience members reached out to express that the show “restored their faith in humanity” and “gave them hope” at a difficult time in our world. How one guy in the cast texted me to say thank you for “helping me do something that I am actually proud of.”
I could tell you how even after all of these experiences, our post-show celebration after the Premier’s attendance last month turned into an impromptu workshop. How one cast member hugged another as she described the homophobia she faces at home. How one-by-one, cast members at the table opened up about insecurities and romantic struggles. How each person’s story was met with support and advice from members of the SExT family we have now become, thanks to the power of art and open minds.
I could describe all of these experiences in detail. Maybe one day I’ll write a book…or better yet, actually write my PhD dissertation. But for now, I will leave you with this selfie of an inspired and empowered group of young people with Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, taken seconds after our youngest cast member almost knocked the Premier over with her condom hat, and minutes after the Premier addressed the entire audience, exclaiming through tears that she agrees every student should experience this.
- Post by Shira Taylor, SExT Creator and Director
*This post was originally posted on Art For Social Change.
Premier Kathleen Wynne's emotional response to SExT was captured on camera by our very own cast member, Thuriga Balasubramaniam, who put together a vlog to share that exciting day with you all. Enjoy!
Today we performed at the One More Night Festival and had a very special guest in the audience!
One year after the SExT pilot program came to Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne introduced the new sex education curriculum to schools in 2015, 17 years after the curriculum's last update in 1998. The new curriculum tackles topics not previously taught in schools including cyberbullying, healthy relationships, consent, homophobia, and gender identity; all topics covered by SExT and touched upon in our show. It was an honour to finally perform for her and thank her for her ongoing commitment to youth education. After our performance, the Premier had some very kind words to say, and we are grateful that the cameras were rolling!
Thank you so much Premier Wynne for taking time out of your busy schedule to come see our show, for acknowledging how important this work is, and for saying that schools need to see this. We are fans!
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.
The scene was originally performed with the song "How To Save a Life" by The Fray, which Mary sang and Saad and Michelle danced to. I spent some time with Mary breaking down the song and was inspired by how much she had to say. She was clearly connected to the song and as we dissected every line, I grew to realize how personal the topic of Healthy Relationships was to her.
In preparation for Fringe and Summerworks, Shira asked me if I knew how to obtain the rights to certain music that was used in the show, particularly "How to Save a Life". I thought, why give ourselves the headache? Why don't I write a song for Mary to sing - it would be an original song for the show and it would reflect her reality.
I approached Mary with the idea. I had no idea if she even felt comfortable talking to me, a stranger, about this topic that was very personal to her. I asked if she wanted to meet and just chat so I could ask her questions about what she wanted to say. "Do you write?" I asked in an email. "I have a feeling you must. Poetry, thoughts, essays ... I'd love to read what you are willing to share with me."
She wrote back and told me that she did in fact write and that she would send me some of her thoughts over the next few days. That weekend I received a page of free-flowing ideas about what it took to realize what an unhealthy relationship was. She described it as standing with your back against the wall and staring at your partner, facing away from everything you know and love and having that space form the reality you both rely on. At the bottom of this was another page of beautiful lyrics that I read over and over again. Here I was, thinking that I would have to extract a few of her ideas and come up with something when there was a song inside of her this whole time. It was powerful. I sat down with my guitar, created a melody, and showed it to her the next day.
How Mary interprets the song is something you must witness. This is her song and I wrote it for her voice. If you’ve seen the show, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Until we can get Mary in a proper recording studio, here’s a version of it with me singing (click the play button on the image below). I recorded it in my parents’ closet while I was at home visiting in Vancouver. Who knew that’s the best place to record at home?
One of the reasons why I think SExT is important is because kids need to recognize what healthy relationships and healthy expression of sex are. When they understand this, they are able to recognize when they are in a dangerous situation and feel empowered enough to ask for help. What I learned about the process of making "Tunnel Vision" was that if you give a young person the opportunity to speak, she will surprise you and she will teach you. Young people are not scared to talk about sex. WE are. It is our fault when youth are misinformed about what their rights are because we were too afraid to talk. Their perspective is powerful. All we need to do is ask and listen.
There are 4 shows left of SExT at the Toronto Fringe, including one tonight! See "Tunnel Vision" performed live along with other incredible original scenes created by this talented cast.
TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL
Annex Theatre - 730 Bathurst Street
July 6th at 7:00 PM
July 7th at 9:15 PM
July 9th at 2:15 PM
July 10th at 5:45 PM
- Post by Elena Juatco - Actor & SExT Creative Facilitator
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
We are less than two weeks away from debuting at the Toronto Fringe Festival, and we have a bunch of blogs that I wanted to post, but I feel it impossible to move forward until we address the recent events in the news.
Amidst a scandal revealed by Oscar-nominated film The Hunting Ground where ivy league universities are concealing on-campus rapes to the police and condoning the behaviours of students that commit repeated sexual assaults, a letter from a Stanford graduate to her rapist has gone viral (read it here). A former Stanford freshman who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster was sentenced to a mere 6 months in jail. The judge feared that a longer sentence might have a "severe impact on him" and his possible Olympic career. The rapist's father stated that his son should not have to go to prison for "20 minutes of action". The judge and this father clearly have no idea that rape affects the survivor's life too. A victim of rape is pushed aside and made to feel less important once again.
Less than a week ago, a man entered a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and killed 49 people, making it the largest mass shooting in US history. To this day, politicians and others are refusing to call this a hate crime. The LGBTQ community is suffering once again.
Where do we go from here? We are literally killing each other because we are losing touch with what makes us human. We are shutting off from each other instead of coming together and growing stronger. It is easier to hate than to love and instead of trying to understand each other, we grow angry. Our society does not want to acknowledge or discuss the fact that we live in a culture where rape and assault is condoned.
I am saying "we" because it is time to take responsibility for what is happening. The left wing blames the right wing. The right blames the left. The atheists blame religion. The religions blame each other. The people blame the government. Minorities grow more divided and we become obsessed with blaming something: the parenting, the lack of parenting, the kids at school, the TV, video games, the music, the gays, the straights, the gun holders, the schools, alcohol ... we are not putting the blame and responsibility where it belongs: us. ME. What can I do so this stops happening?
Read the Stanford survivor's letter and know the people who were killed in Orlando. Speak up when someone calls something "gay" or when you see someone who may need your help. Know what "consent" means (sober and enthusiastic!). Talk about what is going on with the people around you. March in the Pride Parade this month whether you are queer, straight, white, black, Asian, Islamic, Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim ... show that these kind of attacks affect all of us.
This is the reason why I wanted to be a part of SExT. Because I am not happy with how we are treating each other. There is a deep hatred of women and a deep hatred of LGBTQ that exists and it needs to be addressed and extinguished. This kind of hatred exists when we don't understand. So we need to start young and we need to teach this in our schools. Math is important but how we treat each other is how we survive as a human race.
Let's move forward from this but let's not forget.
- 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
Welcome to the SExT blog!
This is where we share our insights and stories about sex, healthy relationships, and getting our show from the rehearsal hall to opening night. Contributors include SExT collaborators and cast members.
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