Loin du coeur
Sheatre brings its teen dating violence program to PEI
Ontario-based professional arts organization Sheatre is bringing its award-winning teen dating violence prevention program Loin du coeur (LDC) to PEI this fall. At the core of the program is a forum theatre play, a participatory style of theatre, tackling such topics as consent, healthy relationships and sexual violence. Island actor Kristen Thompson will play Rachel.
LDC and the English version, Far From the Heart (FFTH), use this interactive style of theatre to allow youth to engage directly with the topics. A problem play is acted out by four professional actors, riddled with realistic, if not ideal, situations. The forum then follows, returning to the beginning of the story; scenes are replayed, but this time, students are encouraged to stop the action and become a character on stage. They improvise with the actors to try to find a healthier or safer outcome. This is referred to as a “rehearsal for reality.”
A recent Sheatre College Musical Theatre graduate, Kristen Thompson of Charlottetown joins the cast of four actors. They wish they had had access to this kind of programming when they were in junior high and high school. “Children do need this, young people do need this,” says Thompson. “I’m so grateful that it gets to be me, I get to give back to my community.”
Sheatre has toured FFTH and LDC throughout ON and SK since 2006. Island theatre-maker Rebecca Parent toured with the shows in ON before returning permanently to PEI in 2018. “I am so eager to finally be bringing this important artwork to my home province,” says Parent. “I have witnessed the powerful conversations it has sparked in young communities, and the power of this interactive style of theatre.”
A key aspect of the program is its partnerships with local resources in mental health, violence prevention, and social services. Representatives attend each show, facilitating post-show debriefing conversations, and providing support to students.
The PEI dates will include two performances open to the general public on September 30 and October 7.