Teens make their pledge to aid Toronto class divisions in Promises to a Divided City playing at The Theatre Centre
Promises to a Divided City is an interactive experience where teenagers engage the audience in thinking about geographic and class divisions in Toronto. You also get to explore the new Theatre Centre in the former Carnegie Library building at Queen and Lisgar; hear some of the history behind Andrew Carnegie, the American industrialist multimillionaire who gave Toronto the money to build this (and other) libraries; and you even get a free book.
Because the show was developed by the teenagers themselves, the analysis of class is not very nuanced. I was a bit alienated right off the bat when one of them came out with the opinion that if we could just teach a “hobo” how to earn money, then we wouldn’t have to give him money for food. There’s a lot missing from that, like systemic oppression, disability considerations, and the use of a word other than “hobo.”
There was also a piece of the show that was quite unique, but also very unnerving, so much so that it could be (and was) triggering for some people. If you think a having a series of teenagers whose faces you can’t see whispering intimately into your ear while you’re laying in a bed might be disturbing for you, perhaps skip this show.
Ultimately, though, I’m glad I went because seeing young people thinking about things that matter is always heartening. The title of the show is literal, in that they ask you to make an actual promise regarding places in the city. And I intend to keep the promise that I made, and I hope that everyone who goes to the show will as well. They have said that next year they will bring us all back together to confirm that we fulfilled our promises and I look forward to that.
And I also hope that we, as a society, find a solution to the biggest problem presented, and one that’s not limited to Toronto – the growing gap between the rich and the poor. This is something that often weighs on my mind, and sometimes I feel despair because I don’t know what I as a person can do. But seeing thirty-one teenagers caring about it gives me hope for the future.
- Promises to a Divided City, a co-production of The Theatre Centre and Mammalian Diving Reflex, plays at 1115 Queen Street West until Saturday May 31st
- Performances begin at 7:00 p.m., 7:40 p.m., 8:20 p.m., 9:00 p.m., or 9:40 p.m.
- Tickets are $10 to $15
- To purchase tickets call 416-538-0988 or order online