Play deals with bullying, homophobia in schools

A play showcasing the effects of bullying and discrimination due to homophobia will be performed this week in Courtenay.

A G.P. Vanier Secondary play showcasing the effects of bullying and discrimination due to homophobia will be performed this week in Courtenay.

Torn Rainbow, Sticks and Stones and Names May Break Me, was written and directed by Vanier’s head of drama and dance Lori Mazey.

It has already been performed at various schools on the Island, but will be shown at Vanier’s theatre at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, June 13 and 15. Tickets are $10 at Laughing Oyster, Videos ‘N More and the Community Justice Centre.

Mazey said the message of the play is best summed up by the character Ryan’s words during the play as he speaks at a school assembly to raise awareness about homophobia.

“I just want to ask — no matter what your beliefs are, how you were raised or what church you go to  — shouldn’t I be able to come to school and feel safe? Without food being thrown at me, or being slammed into a locker on my way to class?” the character asks.

“Don’t I deserve to spend the day without hearing insults about who I am every hour, turning every corner hoping there isn’t someone there who wants to hurt me? Don’t I deserve to feel safe where I go to school? Safe to be myself?”

Mazey noted The Laramie Project, a play based on interviews, inspired her to write this play using student interviews to tell their story of homophobia at high schools. She added she’s seen many plays about bullying and discrimination at high schools, but not many that focus on homophobia.

Thirteen Vanier students are in the cast ranging from Grades 10 to 12, plus one graduated student. A handful of students also worked behind the scenes performing technical tasks.

The play has been shown in other school districts already, including Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Campbell River.

Mazey said reaction to the play has been varied.

“It has been very, very, very interesting watching the audiences,” she said. “One audience member says the play gave her goosebumps, while another at another school asks how he can help, and another at another school finds a way to leave to go to the bathroom and doesn’t come back. One audience member crossed his arms and didn’t applaud while those around him did — and another entire audience rose to their feet applauding.”

The play is presented by Community Justice Theatre Projects. Mazey said justice centre chief administrator Bruce Curtis was integral in making the play possible.