The cast of Vic High’s musical theatre production of Runaways, which opens Feb. 27 with a pay-what-you-can preview night. The evening will include presentations by members of Victoria’s youth support community. Photo by Kimberly Sholinder

Vic High theatre tackles youth homelessness and more in 2020 musical

‘Runaways’ created in New York, but has parallels in Victoria: director

Audience members could be forgiven for believing Victoria High School’s spring musical, Runaways, was developed using real-life local scenarios.

Any similarities between the plight of local youth experiencing homelessness and/or a less-than-healthy home life, and the street-entrenched youth who inspired characters in the original New York Broadway musical by Elizabeth Swados, are purely intentional, says director and Vic High theatre department head, Kimberly Sholinder.

Besides offering her theatre students a chance to creatively tackle some intense subjects, the production – it opens with a preview night Feb. 27 at the school – has created an opportunity to promote greater understanding, she says.

“We’ve partnered with our social justice class at the school and we’ve reached out to community agencies that deal with people who struggle with those issues,” Sholinder says. Representatives from such agencies as Child and Youth Mental Health, the Mobile Youth Services Team and the Stigma Free Society spent time with the Vic High students during rehearsals. “The hope is that it would inform the characters so (the students) could be more authentic in their portrayals (of individuals in this situation), which can often be more over the top and melodramatic.”

Using a combination of monologues, dialogue, songs and slam poetry, the musical covers such difficult topics as child abuse, addictions, sexual exploitation and youth criminality. Such themes are relevant, though often hidden, in Victoria, Sholinder notes.

She knows of what she speaks. Before entering teaching she worked in drama therapy and theatre for social justice. “That was one of the reasons I felt brave enough to tackle a project like this in the first place.”

As she does every year, Sholinder gave her students a choice of five musicals to take on. She wasn’t sure whether they’d be interested in tackling this type of material, but says they were “super eager.”

The preview night for Runaways (7:30 p.m. showtime) will have two special elements. Not only is admission is pay what you can – free if you can’t – the audience will learn about services available for young people in crisis or needing to talk, from the groups that presented to the students, and some of those groups’ clients. A list of services will also be published in the program.

“We’re hoping to have a bit of a back-and-forth dialogue and really start to engage the community a little bit more,” Sholinder says. Using a platform like theatre to pursue activities that are impactful and meaningful, and do that in a way that supports students in their musical theatre pursuits, is a good way to “educate them as human beings and help them be sensitive to other things going on in our community.”

Regular shows run Feb. 28-29 and March 6-7, all at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the school, or by calling 250-388-5456.



editor@mondaymag.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Live theatreVic High

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Celebrate Victoria Pride Week

The Victoria Pride Society has organized some stop-notch virtual entertainment, including the Virtual Pride Festival on July 5.

Children’s author honours Oak Bay sisters murdered by father

Proceeds from children’s book go towards child abuse prevention in Greater Victoria

Sidney Museum and Archives reopens brick by brick with Lego exhibit

Museum joins other reopenings including Sidney library, Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Vancouver Island Symphony, Kerplunks up for Western Canadian Music Awards

Winners to be announced via live stream on Sept. 25

10th annual Nanaimo Fringe Festival to be held online due to COVID-19

Festival will feature six productions by local, regional and international artists

Nanaimo’s Kismet Theatre Academy closes after eight years due to COVID-19

Bonnie Catterson founded the school in 2012 as ‘a place for the oddballs’

Home dance videos to be part of this year’s Infringing Dance Festival

Crimson Coast Dance Society seeking ‘backyard dance’ submissions to compile into video

Ucluelet loses one of town’s oldest art galleries

Mark Penney Gallery shuts down due, in part, to Hwy. 4 closures and COVID-19 pandemic.

Vancouver Island drummers pay belated tribute to Neil Peart of Rush

Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer died of cancer at age 67 in January

Yukon poet kjmunro headlines Port Alberni’s virtual Words on Fire

Monthly spoken word event continues virtually at Char’s Landing

Most Read