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

Just Posted

From Nanoose Bay to the bookshelf, Howard the Gnome now a children’s book

Vancouver Island author explores Howard’s move down-Island

Nanaimo country singer releases new music video

‘Adrenaline’ is the second single from Joel Lee’s upcoming debut EP

Vancouver Island dance school pirouettes into full-fledged education institution

Steps Ahead studio will provide assistance with distance learning, as well as artistic classes

Former Victoria busker returns home with first album

Jeff Bryant performed as a human statue

Maclure house on tap in Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s virtual tour

Inaugural virtual House Tour features an online tour of a beautiful 1916 Samuel Maclure

Island author launches literary podcast with Canada Council for the Arts grant

Shelley Leedhal will air 10 episodes of “Something Like Love” over 10 weeks

Nanaimo’s Cinefest film festival to be held online this year due to COVID-19

CineCentral Filmmakers Society’s annual festival to feature films made in 48 hours

Indigenous artists showcase extreme sport-themed art at Nanaimo Art Gallery

Touring exhibition ‘Boarder X’ features work inspired by skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing

Indigenous artist restores 20-year-old sculpture in downtown Victoria

Four Winds sculpture located near Tug Eatery encourages climate action

Gabriola theatre group live-streaming two new pandemic-themed plays

Gabriola Players to broadcast ‘All and Nothing’ and ‘Syd’s Cosmic Slump’ using Zoom

Kingcome artist wins contest at Museum of Anthropology

Coral Shaughnessy-Moon’s design will be sold on t-shirts at the museum and online

Most Read