/Minden audience invited to be allies to LGBTQ youth
Be Our Ally an interactive play for youth about homophobic bullying is being performed at the Minden United Church on May 27. Admission is free. Submitted photo.

Minden audience invited to be allies to LGBTQ youth

By Sue Tiffin

Published May 4 2017

An interactive drama coming to Minden will allow audience members the chance to confront a homophobic bully.

Be Our Ally a 75-minute play about LGBTQ youth and the impact of bullying and homophobia is being presented by Point in Time with the help of Lisa Tolentino and family after Tolentino suggested the violence prevention program come to town.

The play follows the story of Tommy who faces taunting and discrimination which leads to thoughts of suicide after he asks Zack to the school dance. A type of forum theatre the play elicits responses from the audience to impact the outcome to improve Tommy’s situation.

“It is shameful that we live in a society where people who are seen to love “differently” are targets of hate crimes and discrimination” reads the play description at sheatre.com the theatre company’s web site. “We believe that we must begin to reshape the words and values that create victims of hate crimes in the LGTBQ community.”

Tolentino’s idea to bring the play to Haliburton County was generated from a session about inclusion and compassion presented by representatives of Sheatre Educational Alternative Theatre at the 2016 SPARC (Supporting Performing Arts in Rural Communities) workshops held locally last fall. Tolentino facilitated the group where videos of Be Our Ally were shown by presenters.

“I was impressed with it” said Tolentino. “At the SPARC event we were talking about issues that had come up recently in the community related to discrimination. I got a bit concerned and felt that something needed to be done.”

Tolentino said this is especially important to her as a parent as she wants to encourage her son to be compassionate and understanding.

“As a kid growing up in our community I want him to feel like he’s included and want him to understand that everyone should be included regardless of for instance their sexual orientation.”

Tolentino said she has been involved in forum theatre before and appreciates the discourse that can stem from it.

“It’s an excellent way to address ways of discrimination” she said. “I would love it if we could tackle other issues too – environmental issues for example. It’s a safe place to create dialogue.”

Rachel Gillooly SPARC Symposium Project Coordinator said Sheatre has delivered powerful workshops at conferences she has attended and some of the photos from the photo exhibition of Be Our Ally were presented at the 2014 SPARC Symposium held in Haliburton.

“Sheatre have done some really innovative stuff” said Gillooly. “They have really put their money where their mouths are when it comes to creating community-based art for social change.”

Be Our Ally was created with the help of more than 50 youth in Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound and has toured at schools throughout Ontario.

“It’s a wonderful experience to see a play that is so interactive the actors don’t know what’s going to happen – everyone knows that no one knows what’s going to happen” said david sereda Be Our Ally co-producer. “When we say something in real life that moment is gone we can’t replay it. But in this particular form of theatre you can try ideas out and change the outcome.”

Event organizers are accepting donations in advance to help with funding the production as well as door prizes to give away at the performance. Interested contributors can contact Gail Stelter at 705-457-3768 or gailstelter@sympatico.ca.

Be Our Ally will be presented on Saturday May 27 at 1 p.m. at the Minden United Church at 21 Newcastle St. Admission is free or by donation to Point in Time .