Exploring alternative ways of re-mounting plays

When I first started it, I didn’t think I’d be moving out of Hamilton. I thought maybe in the summertime I’d be performing with other people. And like showing people, maybe in my age group, how they’re not alone.

— Performer-advocate, Choose Your Destination.

In addition to the activities we were forced to put on hold because of the pandemic we also encountered some hurdles around re-performing plays. As we mentioned in our discussion of Performance Exchanges, the greatest obstacle we encountered was performer availability. Though at times we’ve had a member of the creative team stand in for a performer-advocate who was ill or unable to attend a particular performance, we’ve always made it a priority to have the plays performed by the community and self-advocates who created them. Over time, we began to see how this commitment had the unintended consequence that in some situations — as with Choose Your Destination — we were only able to present a play once.

Our work with the youth who created Choose Your Destination made apparent the precarious circumstances that some performer-advocates’ experience (lack of access to housing, geographic relocations, intermittent phone service and limited or no access to email, unpredictable work hours). At times, the circumstances of the youth’s lives made it difficult for them to attend workshop sessions which resulted in the workshop series taking place over an extended timeframe. By the time we were able to mount the play, we were uncertain if all (or any) of the youth would be available for a re-performance.

We explored the questions of re-performance and performer availability in our post-performance interviews with the youth. We first asked them how they would feel about re-performing the play. All said they would love to re-perform the play and would make every effort to be a part of it. We then asked, if circumstances arose where they weren’t available to perform how they would feel about somebody else stepping in to perform their character. Though the responses were more bittersweet, once again, the youth felt strongly that the play should live on to reach a broader audience:

I feel like my character could be played by different genders as well. It doesn’t have to be a female. So like, I think that as long as the person reads the play and knows how to portray the character and personality, I wouldn’t mind at all. As long as the point gets across, there’s a good outcome. Right? So obviously it’d be bittersweet because obviously I’d love to perform that character, because I made the character. But there’d be no, I’d have no restriction, there would be no — I would be fine with anyone performing the character if the time worked out.” — Performer-advocate, Choose Your Destination.

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Transforming Stories, Driving Change by Helene Vosters, Catherine Graham, Chris Sinding is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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