University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies presents Stories from the Generation Gap
It’s always a bit of a challenge when first getting involved in a community of any kind, from a subculture to just your local neighbourhood. The LGBT community is no different with its wide array of networks and organizations and incredibly diverse population in Toronto alone. In Cameron Crookston’s Tales from the Generation Gap these challenges are placed under the spotlight, highlighting not only the varied experiences of a variety of individuals within the community but also showcasing a glimpse of not only Toronto’s LGBT history but North America as a whole through a verbatim script adapted from years of interviews.
As Crookston describes in his director’s notes, one of the biggest struggles the LGBT community faces in developing is that there is a certain disconnect between the generations. Activists from the ’60’s who fought, bled and often died for equality or recognition are often dismissed by the queer youth of today, oftentimes simply because the great strides that the LGBT community has achieved in just the last decade and the lack of formalized education on the history of the queer community.
In cultural communities (who also suffer from a great deal of marginalization from formalized history) this issue is lessened by the fact that families introduce their children to their history throughout their upbringing, but for queer children this is not always a feasible option. Stories from the Generation Gap focuses much of its time on this problem, discussing how individuals in Toronto navigated their way through the community; what they learned from their experiences and what they try to give back.
The advantage of a verbatim script is that right away the text feels real and honest. You know that what’s being said is coming from a real human being and it gives weight to what they’re saying. The experiences are real and not fabricated, and this gives the entire cast a massive advantage in their performances.
The downside to this verbatim script is that there was never really a moment that stood out for me performance wise. As I described it after the show, it felt like the actors were doing a runway fashion show and simply modelling the words; as long as they said them with honesty the text was going to hit home because of its raw honesty.
On the flip side, the staging of the piece felt a bit schizophrenic. Most of the characters had very little informed attributes to their identity and none of them were named which made it difficult to follow at times. Additionally I never really got a strong sense of the activity throughout the play.
At first it appeared that the cast was packing up an apartment for a move but halfway through the show a projection of old queer cinema began to play and it transitioned into a straight interview sequence before returning to the packing, then a (very entertaining) drag performance. I never really got a sense of place or purpose beyond the old acting choice of “activity to give life to the words”.
Overall, Stories from the Generation Gap is a solid concept that talks about some very interesting issues and certainly inspired me to start learning more about the history of the struggle for queer rights, but I don’t think it entirely succeeds as a piece of theatre. There’s a detachment that, to be fair, is always a struggle when it comes to verbatim scripts, and that detachment hangs over the whole production, but I genuinely believe that with some adjustments to the staging and script this could be an amazing piece in the future.
- Stories from the Generation Gap is playing at the Robert Gill Theatre (214 College St, 3rd Floor)
- Performances run until August 23rd, 2015
- Showtimes are 8 PM (Aug 20-22), 2 PM (Aug 23)
- There is no charge for tickets but reservation is suggested due to limited seating.
- Seats can be reserved by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Poster image provided by the company