First there were The Vagina Monologues, then came The Abortion Monologues, and very soon, The Bullying Monologues will spring to life.
As part of an innovative project by the bilingual Ottawa theatre company Troupe de la Lune, which is associated with Jer’s Vision, high school students from across the country will soon have a show they can produce in their own schools in order to make the realities and consequences of bullying more concrete.
“I am so excited that youth in our community are using creative ways to talk about bullying,” says Jeremy Dias, the founder of Jer’s Vision. “This will not just be another curriculum resource but one that can be used in classes, extracurricular activities and community youth groups to start a dialogue on what bullying is, how and why it manifests, and [the] solutions.”
Marie Robertson, 29, who has been a youth volunteer with Jer’s Vision since 2007, is spearheading the project. She put out a call for bullying stories a couple months ago and is now compiling these real-life accounts into a series of monologues that will run the gamut in terms of bullying issues.
“I’m just trying to gather as many stories and experiences as possible. I know that there’s a subset of kids that, if you just talk to them, they’re like, ‘Whatever . . . I’ve heard this a million times before,’” says Robertson about the project, which aims to include stories about disability, sexual orientation, fat phobia and gender policing. “I’m hoping this will attract another group of kids and reach them on a different level.”
Before this project can be launched, Troupe de la Lune will need money to underwrite it. That’s why they will be producing a fundraising show in this year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival to raise money for what they hope will be a fall 2012 premiere in Ottawa — acted entirely by local high school students.
“We may end up premiering it in a high school if we know a group that’s interested. Or a [theatre] venue,” Robertson says. “The end goal is obviously to have a script that can be produced anywhere. I’ll be able to give this to any high school or youth group that wants to do it and say, ‘Make it your own.’”
The Fringe show is a play called Ex Cathedra, which was written by Ottawa playwright Lawrence Aronovitch. Aronovitch offered the play to Troupe de la Lune in order to help them amass capital for the premiere of The Bullying Monologues later this year.
Ex Cathedra is a two-hander that takes place in an alternate universe where homosexuality is illegal. The two main characters are a female commander of the security services who tracks down and kills homosexuals and a Catholic nun who helps to run a sort of lavender railroad that protects homos from the clutches of murderous officials. As it turns out, the two used to be lovers. The show is an apt choice for its purpose, as it proffers a story of bullying on a global level.
“I want to get to a point where [we recognize] that everyone has a story to share, and we remove any and all stigma about bullying. That’s a long-term goal,” Robertson says. “An 86-year-old-man told me his story about being bullied back in the 1940s. It’s not a new problem at all, but it’s finally getting the attention it deserves.”
Runs till Sun, June 24
135 Rue Séraphin-Marion
Department of Theatre, University of Ottawa campus