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.
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