From press release
SExT: Sex Education by Theatre was created by PhD candidate Shira Taylor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto as part of her dissertation. As an artist and advocate for social justice in public health, Shira wanted to create a program to use theatre as a platform to empower youth to reflect on, challenge, and communicate their realities on issues related to sex education – a traditionally taboo topic.
Academic and popular literature have provided both an empirical and colloquial basis for an interactive approach to sex education recognizing its social, religious, cultural, political, and human context. Theatre is uniquely qualified to engage youth intellectually and emotionally, thus raising social consciousness and triggering social change.
In pursuing the conviction that drama pedagogy may hold transformative potential for sex education, partnerships were formed with the Flemingdon Health Centre and Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, serving Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park – designated “Neighborhood Improvement Areas” of Toronto.
These communities are immigration destinations and the recent hub of protests opposing sex education reform in the wake of the first sexual health education curriculum update since 1998. The creation process for the devising of this work provided a safe space for 19 high school students with diverse genders, ages, and cultural backgrounds, to engage in discussion and debate, receive training in theatre fundamentals, and participate in various forum theatre and improvisational exercises exploring these contentious, yet universal issues.
Topics addressed in workshops included safer sex and community issues identified by youth – gender roles, women’s attire, testing barriers, consent, cyberbullying, abuse, racism, and homophobia. The process culminated in a lively and powerful collection of skits, songs, dances, poems, and raps, harnessing individual and group talents to probe the issues. While originally conceived as a show by youth for youth, SExT also aims to encourage adult audiences to reconsider any preconceptions of young people, diversity, and sexuality.
The group has performed for their community at the Ontario Science Centre, Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, and the Flemingdon Health Centre. A father and drama teacher wrote: “Phenomenal work from phenomenal kids…They showed bravery, vulnerability, maturity, and a great deal of talent and commitment.
It may sound strange, but SExT has helped restore my faith in the next generation, the power of theatre, and youth in general.” Scott Pearce, a teacher at the youth’s high school wrote: “The show reinforced for me the power of humour to communicate sensitive topics. The students in the audience—both male and female—were engaged with an intensity I’ve rarely seen.” This summer the cast faces their greatest challenge yet: bringing their previously semi-private show to the Toronto public for the first time at the Toronto Fringe.
- Wednesday June 29th, 08:45 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 05:45 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 12:30 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 07:00 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 09:15 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 02:15 pm
- Sunday July 10th, 05:45 pm
- SExT plays at the Annex Theatre. (736 Bathurst St)
- Tickets are $10 at the door, $12 in advance. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warning: Mature Language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible provided you arrive early (at least ~20 minutes) and notify the House Manager you require an accessible route.
Photo of the ensemble by Fiona Sauder