CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 21. . . .January 31, 2014
Age of Minority: Three Plays.
Toronto, ON: Playrights Canada Press, 2013.
122 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $19.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77091-194-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77091-195-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-77091-196-3 (epub).
Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.
Review by Rob Bittner.
I don’t talk in my videos normally but this might be my last one for a while. And I know there’s a lot of haters out there, posting shit like, “Only thing better than a dancing fag is a dead fag,” or whatever, but there’s like a hundred people out there who give me the thumbs up, you know, saying “Beyoncé would be proud” or “You’re so fierce,” so I ain’t got time for haters. I make these videos for you—whoever you are—watching in your bedrooms with the volume low down, or on your headphones, under your covers. I love you. And I need you tonight. More than ever. And if you’ve got like some advice for me, just post it below this video, okay? (From rihannaboi95.)
This collection of plays contains three one-person plays. Get Yourself Home Skyler James was performed in five high schools in Toronto after Tannahill was sponsored to go on a tour of the Toronto area with his plays. This play explores the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the American military as Skyler James, a lesbian, navigates the obstacles of sexuality and relationships while serving as an American soldier. Get Yourself Home was selected as a flagship project for the Toronto District School Board’s new Equity Curriculum which makes an effort to include sexual orientation and gender identity in school curricula.
rihannaboi95 was originally performed as a YouTube confessional video featuring Sunny, a 16-year-old boy who goes by the online name of “rihannaboi95." Sunny makes online videos in which he dances to pop songs, but while doing so, he has to avoid detection from his family. He is constantly bullied, and he is getting sick of disparaging online comments about his sexuality and gender performance—“Sunny, you’re a girl-boy,” say his parents. After reading the monologue, it is easy to see why the play was nominated for three Dora Mavor Moore Awards, eventually winning the award for Best New Play in the Theatre for Young Audiences. Perhaps if the play ends up in school libraries, more students will be willing to perform it, or at least gain insight from it.
Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes is exactly 59 minutes in length, the period of time in which Peter Fechter lay dying at the base of the Berlin Wall after he was shot trying to escape from East Germany. The play was written after Tannahill went to Germany to discover the story of the real Peter Fechter, and after spending many hours researching the accounts of the soldiers who shot him. The play is remarkable in its depiction of pain, sexual difference, and history. This is a beautifully rendered collection of one-man plays that many young people—perhaps more queer individuals than anything—will find intriguing and worth reading.
This collection of plays addresses—and undermines—commonplace notions of homophobia and sexuality/gender in unique and diverse contexts. The plays each discuss tolerance and acceptance throughout history and in various social spaces. The book, overall, may be considered more specialized—it specifically targets more dramatic individuals and other performing arts students—though I believe it may find larger appeal if given the opportunity to be included in school libraries.
I should note that the collection does contain strong language which some may find questionable for younger readers, though I believe the language is appropriate for the given situations. Overall, though it is difficult in some ways to read plays rather than see them, this is a collection of plays worth exploring.
Rob Bittner is a graduate of the MA in Children’s Literature program at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. He is currently a PhD student in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University.
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