One Hundred Eighty-Three

DISS

Touring Communities and Schools in Winnipeg and Surrounding Areas:
October 15 – December 14, 2012

Directed by Hope McIntyre
Featuring: Eugene (GeNie) Baffoe, Lacina Dembele, John Echano, Cherrel Holder, Braiden Houle and Lorraine James

Give your students or community the powerful experience of live theatre. Diss presents the worst-case scenarios of gang involvement, catalyzing audience members to speak-up and make a change in their lives and communities.

After a successful tour of Toronto schools, we are excited to work with playwright Rex Deverell to adapt his play Diss to a Winnipeg setting. We can’t wait to take the play to youth and into high schools where it truly needs to be seen. This no-holds-barred, interactive theatrical experience features youth performers tackling the issue of youth gangs, gun violence and how the marginalization of immigrant youth makes them susceptible to gangs.

Diss tells the story of a brother and sister, newcomers to a big Canadian city. As they search for belonging and a sense of status the male is lured into dangerous behaviour by so-called friends who are actually recruiting for a gang. Their mother is a single mom working long hours at menial jobs to make ends meet. As the play unfolds the audience sees the changes in this family as they struggle to adjust to their new home and are affected by discrimination. Ultimately the story builds to gang violence. The structure of the play allows youth watching to see how discrimination affects people and to identify the signs of gang recruitment.

What makes Diss so unique, is that it allows students to share their thoughts and suggestions about situations that are played out in front them on stage. It is performed in Forum Theatre style. Forum Theatre is a lively and effective way to look at and counter issues that our community faces today. After the play is performed, scenes are replayed and the audience is able to stop the action and step in with solutions. This provides a chance for those watching to discuss what happens and participate in changing the ending.

Background

The play was originally developed in partnership with the Toronto Police Service and youth with gang experience. As a result of including youth with gang experience in the development, the show is a realistic portrayal of family relationships, friendship, theft, gun violence and many other issues that affect young people living with gang presence in their communities. In order to make sure the play reflects the Winnipeg youth immigrant experience we conducted drama sessions with youth at IRCOM (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba) and also involved youth at ArtCity in the creation of the scenic design.

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