In honour of the International day of pink, a day against bullying, discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia in schools and communities, MCT’s logo goes pink.
With the first leg of the Showdown 2.0 tour finished, I have been thinking a lot about cyber-bullying and the boundaries between our online worlds and our offline realities. The online world has become an extension of our offline world. Our constant use of social networks has allowed the Internet to develop into a space where family, friends, and colleagues connect to each other on a whole new level. Online users are able to share as much or as little about their lives on personal profile spaces, for example, one’s Facebook profile page or Twitter feed. Often the things that we post online not only depict our interests and comment our personal beliefs, but also describe the relationships that we keep. Even though one may not put much thought into posting a vacation with close friends to a resort in the Bahamas, it tells the audience that the person is financially able to go on vacation, likes to travel, is adventurous, and has similar friends. What we post and don’t post about ourselves and others allows online viewers to get a sense of our offline world.
Our online world reflects aspects of our offline world, but we can choose what we post online. On the other hand, we cannot choose what others post about us. A person may have gone on vacation with his or her friends, photos may have been taken, and one of those friends may choose to post the photos online. Often we don’t ask if others are comfortable if we post images, information, or comments about them on our social networks. What we do in our offline world is represented in our online communities, which makes it difficult if we want to remain anonymous.
A couple of months ago my father decided to get Facebook because a family member from overseas had suggested that he sign up so that he can see family pictures that she posted on her account. My father decided to sign up so that he could keep in touch with family and friends that live far away. I helped him through the process, which was difficult as he was frustrated by all of the information that he was asked to share. We finally got through it. He was all set up, no profile picture, no interests posted, and about only 6 friends. My father recently had his birthday and those 6 friends sent kind messages to his Facebook wall. He received emails and asked me how to sign onto his account so that he could read the messages. When we signed on he had about 20 ‘friend requests’ from people he knew. My father was completely overwhelmed. I explained to him that he must reply, otherwise it is like not returning a phone call, or not answering the door when a friend knows you’re home. Feeling very overwhelmed, he explained, “I just wanted to see those pictures! This is too much for me.” Facebook wasn’t for my father, and I unfortunately helped him delete his account.
When participating in online networks we must think about how our online information connects to the outside world. Just like what we wear, how we behave, and what we say informs others about who we are, what we post also allows others to understand how we depict ourselves, our interests, and our beliefs. This forced connection between our online and offline worlds is hard to bear for some, but may allow for those who choose to connect to social networks to be responsible for what they post online.
A FYI from our intern, Carina:
Toronto’s arts and culture scene really takes care of young people. There are many great deals for youth to take advantage of. Listed below are some great opportunities for inexpensive and even some free admission to art galleries and theatre, music, and dance performances.
Museums and Art Galleries:
Royal Ontario Museum- On Wednesdays, between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm, general admission to the ROM is free. On Friday evenings after 4:30 pm, admission for youth with a valid student ID is $10.50.
Art Gallery of Ontario– On Wednesdays, between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm, general admission to the AGO is free. On Tuesdays through Fridays after 3:00 pm, admission for youth with a valid student ID is free.
Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art– On every visit, admission to the museum is pay-what-you-can.
Gardiner Museum- Every Tuesday, admission is free to post-secondary students. Every Friday, between 4 pm and 9 pm admission is half price, making it only $3 for high school students.
Soulpepper– 30 minutes before each show $5 tickets are sold to those 21 years of age and younger.
Buddies in Bad Times– Check out the theatre’s website to enter your email and receive invitations to free shows, followed with artist talk-back sessions.
Canadian Stage– For those under the age of 29 years, $12.50 can be bought, up to 2 weeks before a show, online after a short registration process.
National Ballet of Canada- $30 tickets for those between the ages of 16-29 years can be bought online on the day of the show at dancebreak.ca.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra– Anyone between the ages of 15-35 is eligible to buy $14 tickets after signing up online for a free tsosoundcheck card.
Canadian Opera Company– Those under 30 years of age are eligible to purchase $22 tickets anytime before a show.
Tour leg #1 is over, but it’s only the end of phase one for the cast of Showdown 2.0. Due to the overwhelming success of the school tour, and a great showcase at the TCDSB Safe Schools Symposium, MCT is bringing Showdown 2.0 back in February 2012 (February 6-24) for another sold-out tour throughout the GTA.
We have several interns here at MCT his season who had never experienced the power of Forum Theatre prior to working here. Here’s what intern Carina had to say about her first Forum performance:
“A couple of weeks ago I saw my first ever Forum Theatre play. I could tell right away that the Forum experience is a powerful one. When presented with situations and characters that are developed with the audience in mind, the play allows viewers to relate and think about how worst-case scenarios can be changed for the better. It also allows audience members to step back, view and think about how what is presented on stage fits within their community. While watching the play, not only was I thinking about what might happen next, but I also questioned how I would handle the situations presented if I was in the position of many of the characters. A Forum play like SHOWDOWN 2.0 sparks much conversation since the behaviour of characters in worst-case scenario situations can be changed in many different ways. I’m sure that when the audience of a Forum production sees a show and has the opportunity to participate through acting out resolutions for the worst-cases, the audience will be excited to learn and relate to their peers on stage.”
During the tour, we performed at and ESL school, which can present a unique set of challenges, but also opportunities to explore Forum Theatre in a different way than we usually do. MCT Co-Op student, Eslam, attended that performance:
“School that are mainly an ESL may have a little bit of an issue to understand the play, but I noticed a lot of students helped other students to understand. This meant some talking during the play, but I think the best thing about that is that students are taking care of each other. Also they seemed to enjoyed more of the physical and facial expressions of the characters. It was great some of the well known kids in the school volunteered to participate in the interventions and resolve the conflict in the best way possible, because it motivated others to do the same.”