• 04

    April 2019

    Sum Theatre explores sexual violence, healthy relationships in #consent play

    Heather Morrison said she shed tears for her younger self when she learned  #consent would be presented in Saskatoon high schools and libraries.

    The play tackles topics like sexual violence, consent and healthy boundaries, said Morrison, who is the artistic producer at Sum Theatre and the lead creator on the #consent project. 

    "I wept for young Heather," said Morrison. "[The teenagers] are now getting this information that would have changed the course of my life."

    The play is inspired by the #metoo movement that ballooned in 2017. 

    Morrision said topics of consent or sexual violence were never discussed when she was in school, and it became clear that needed to change. 

    "I could see a real gap in information missing," she said. 

    "A lot of people don't know where those lines are, and if it's taught in schools then then everyone will know."

    #MeToo movement

    Morrison said it was shocking to learn how many people had been affected by sexual harassment or violence — especially at a time when she was also coming to terms with her own stories. 

    She knew she had experienced sexual harassment, but in the wake of the #MeToo movement she realized that she had endured more. 

    "I had been date raped when I was in my early 20s," she said. "I had been sexually assaulted and I didn't understand it at the time."

    Morrison said she didn't understand that what happened was wrong and that it wasn't her fault.


    "[The play] is personal to me, but it's personal to so many people that have suffered." 

    She said she hopes the play can prevent sexual violence, but it's also meant to acknowledge the experiences of survivors who have been "silenced and gaslighted" or who have internalized what happened to them.

    The play moves fast through short scenes, imitating the way teenagers move through the digital world.

    "One piece of information and the next and the next and the next."

    She said it's meant to teach, but they didn't want to offer up a lecture. 

    "If we want to educate [teenagers] on the nuances of this sort of behavior, we had to make it appealing and engaging for them."

    Morrison said the play has tough scenes involving queer partner violence and bullying.

    However, there are also moments of play and comedy meant to keep hearts light amid the heaviness. 

    "Humour makes anything easier to swallow," Morrison said. 

    The goal is to empower youth to know their rights, know where the line is, with the hope that they can make good choices and employ self-care if something does happen.

    Morrison said the people involved in the play have been trained how to respond if someone sees the performance and then realizes they were sexually assaulted or treated inappropriately.  

    The actors carry information cards that list resources and school counselors are in the loop. 

    The play will be in high schools from April 4 to 15, but Morrison said it will also be presented five times for free at Saskatoon's libraries, on campus and at Station 20 West.

    The creative contributors alongside Morrison are Danielle Altrogge, Connor Brousseau, Paige Francoeur, S.E. Grummett, Leah Horlick, Greg Ochitwa, and Krystle Pederson.


    • Posted By: Kendall Latimer · CBC News
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