Published on April 12th, 2019 | by Lauren Allen0
Lauren shares her feelings about #consent, a local theatre piece from Sum Theatre and Heather Morrison, that has been creating space for unheard voices.
#consent is a 45-minute piece made up of a collection of things — raps, poems, songs, sketches, scenes. More than that, it is a 45-minute afterplay that holds space for those who have never had the chance to speak before.
When I attended the performance of #consent, the room was packed with teenagers. That’s who this piece is mostly for — because it is important to teach consent to the young. I found the experience engaging and moving for myself as well, because I was seeing everything I wish I had known. I grew up not really knowing what consent or rape were — and it affected my life in massive, upheaving ways. I feel free to say this because I am sure it has been like that for you too.
The performance flies by at a crack pace — the four performers (Megan Zong, Connor Brousseau, Krystle Pederson, and S.E. Grummett) are moving with such speed you’re hooked in, afraid to miss a moment. With only 45 minutes of content it’s impressive how much information they are able to get across. Not only about consent as it relates to sex — but about how we relate to each other in the aftermath of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The theme of the piece seems so serious, and indeed, consent is not a matter to be taken lightly, but Sum Theatre Artistic Producer and the director of #consent, Heather Morrison, has assembled a group of artists that have made something absolutely hilarious. From a coach calling foul after foul on an awkward attempted kiss at the end of a date, to a robed superhero representing Canadian pornography/privacy law, to an infomercial style commentary on the play itself, the show is so much fun you’re almost not prepared for the moment it speaks to you.
There is not a single person I know who was not moved or affected by the #MeToo movement or sexual assault and harassment. So inevitably in this conversation, you will be spoken to directly. You may be called in for acting in a way you didn’t know was wrong, called out for doing something you absolutely knew was wrong, or simply embraced by a group of artists repeating that they hear you, see you, and are here for you.
This is why this performance can’t possibly end at 45 minutes. The rehearsed scenes and sketches may be over, but the real work begins. Hearing the audience respond to the play is the most meaningful experience I have had in a theatre in a long time. Everyone on the #consent team has had training in order to support those who may be triggered by the content of the piece, and everyone is encouraged to leave if they feel like it is too much for them. Many people took advantage of this option, though I won’t speak to what their reasons for leaving the room might have been. If the piece ended with no dialogue, I think it would mean less. To give the audience a chance to address how the events of the play have affected them is to empower them. And that’s what we really need as we all come to terms with everything that has happened.
#consent is in schools from April 4th to 15th, and will have five public shows at Saskatoon libraries from April 6th to 13th. It is free of charge, but you can donate and support #consent at sumtheatre.com/consent.