Get Around Me a solo play by Toronto’s Gillian English is necessary to experience
What do you do when you are abandoned by your team and victimized? What do you do when the organization you are part of refuses to take action? In Gillian English’s one woman show Get Around Me playing at The Comedy Bar, we are left with only one answer: stand up and be heard.
Over the course of the one hour show, English tells her personal story of sexual assault. While representing Canada at the international Australia Rules Football tournament, she was sexually assaulted by a Canadian. His actions were actively encouraged by members of AFL Canada teams who cheered and laughed. Although the man who assaulted her was charged, no one else has been penalized for their actions.
As a performer first and foremost, English has a charismatic stage presence. In a small, intimate space, with little more than a projector and a football, English makes sure that the audience focuses on her words without distraction. We are there to listen.
That’s not to say there’s no audience and performer interaction. The atmosphere is laid back to the point that, over the course of the show, the reality of what happened to English hits with a terrible force.
I felt dread as she moved from her discovered passion for Aussie Rules Football towards the final party in Australia. There were little comments here and there where English points out a culture that is not very welcoming to women. She talks about the double standards women face in Aussie rules football, including micromanaging by male coaches, or being groped at one of the first social gathering she attended as a team member.
Get Around Me is a story that feels unheard; something that makes it all the more significant. I can’t help but reflect on the fact that if English were not so vocal about her experiences, then I’d still be ignorant about it. Where is the outcry? How do Canadians not know about this?
As an entry point into the larger fight against rape culture, victim blaming, sexism, and misogyny, English uses her own experience to call for significant changes. Sports culture is only part of the problem but it best encapsulates what is wrong in the larger societal picture. She wants to make sure nobody experiences what she did, and she is refusing to be silent, using the stage as a platform.
And it’s awesome.
One of the best aspects of Get Around Me is it’s accessibility. It is a blunt piece of theatre that gives the audience no illusions, especially when we hear about the lack of closure she’s been offered by AFL Canada. English takes the stage and delivers biting, insightful, and distressing commentary that inspired me with its passion.
Get Around Me is not just worth seeing, it’s necessary to experience.
- Get Around Me by Gillian English runs until May 4th at The Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West)
- Show runs until May 4th at 8pm
- Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or online at www.comedybar.ca
Photo of Gillian English by Dahlia Katz