On Tuesday, March 27th, the Radville Regional High School gym became the scene of a party, but unlike the typical high school parties this one was presented by Sheatre, a theater group based out of Owen Sound, Ontario. They were in Radville to present “Far from the Heart,” a play meant to raise awareness of violence against women.
The actors first presented the play to their students in its entirety. There are four main characters; Felicity, a fifteen year old Girl, Rachel, her 17 year old friend, Warren, Felicities abusive boyfriend and Adam, the host of the party and supposed good guy.
The play begins with the two sets of teens preparing for the party at their different residences. Rachel gives Felicity a red dress to wear to the party.
They have already begun drinking and are smoking pot. The guys in the meantime are busy getting ready for the party and comparing notes on Felicity.
At the party Warren is embarrassed by the dress Felicity chose to wear and worried what other guys at the party will think. He insists Felicity wear his sweater. This leads to an argument between Warren and Adam and Warren is kicked out of the party. The remaining three continue to party and Felicity is drugged. Rachel leaves her at the party to go to another party with a guy she is interested in.
Adam leads felicity to his basement bedroom and then rapes her. This act leaves all the characters feeling guilty and full of remorse.
After the play the students were presented with a series of questions regarding what that had just seen. The play was then repeated but with a twist. When the students felt something was wrong or a situation made them feel uncomfortable they stood up and yelled stop.
All action would stop immediately and the students themselves were invited into the scene to try and make a difference in the outcome.
But as Erroll Kinistino said “It is one thing to have ideas. It’s another to put them into action. As a community we are discussing ideas. This is a rehearsal for reality.” Kinistino joined with the group after watching them perform in his home community on the Ohapawace First Nation near Whitewood. His own family was and still is dealing with a similar issue.
Students touched on many subjects during the ninety minute presentation including dating violence, objectification of women, alcohol and drug abuse, self image, mental abuse and peer pressure. As each new topic was presented it was discussed as were the ways the students chose to deal with them.
Those in attendance were taught how to diffuse a situation with out making it worse and how to approach parties themselves. They also talked about setting clear rules and boundaries. Rather then discouraging drinking, the presenters talked about drinking safely and making certain there was a safe and trustworthy ride home.
After the presentation, facilitators that travel with the group met with each class in their homerooms to discuss any concerns that students may have had that they felt uncomfortable about discussing in the larger groups.
The presentation was well received amongst the students. It had their undivided attention and there was great participation. This is the latest of many presentations the High School has participated in this school year.
“Far from the Heart” is an award winning production and has recently been nominated for a Golden Sheaf Award at the Yorkton Film Festival in the Digital Media category.