Consensual by Evan Placey

Unfortunately, this production was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic that hit BC in March 2020, when we were only 1 week from Tech.

Our production, under cookies & cream collective (an independent artist collective), was originally selected to be a part of Performance Works’ inaugural season under the newly formed Granville Island Theatre District, as well as to be a part of Theatre Wire’s 19/20 packaged Theatre Season. We were thrilled by the community support and commitment that came forward and could see that the community had an equally strong desire to see the play come to the Vancouver stage that aligned with our own desire to take a risk in presenting this kind of work. From the moment our Director, Jessica Anne Nelson, read Consensual she was gutted. She didn’t know whether she wanted to puke, cry, or rage. This play asks audiences to reconsider their ideas of sexual relationships and consent - a concept that is still evolving in society. It is something that needs to be discussed not only by adults, but by children and youth as well. We wish to further conversations of consent, sex, intimacy, and relationships for youth, as well as create a space where adults that are struggling with their understanding of these topics can critically engage with their ideas and biases in relation to the story. Thus, hopefully, provoking ongoing dialogue for those audience members after they’ve left the theatre.

Placey’s script highlights the importance of consent in creating healthy sexual relationships while not shying away from the grey areas that life, consent, and interpersonal relationships can manifest. Asking difficult questions but avoiding definitive answers, Consensual floods the audience with differing perspectives and swaying emotions. We are left to consider, “Can a teenager really consent to physical intimacies when they’re legally underage?”, “When an adult says no to something, yet it happens anyway, are they at fault because they are the adult in the situation?” or, “Does an audience member’s opinion change depending on if the adult in these situations is female or male?” By the end of the play, these questions have rolled around in the audiences’ brains, leaving them without any clear answer. And so, we must ask ourselves, “What would I do in this situation?” Placey leaves the audience in the uncomfortable position of moral culpability, forcing audience members to question their own moral compass, and interrogate what some of their own biases are. However, no matter how we might feel individually about how the circumstances unfold at the end of the play between the two main characters – Freddie, the younger male student, and Diane, the older female Pastoral Assistant – legally it is clear that Diane is wrong and responsible for engaging in sexual actions with a minor. As the adult, Diane should have had control over her sexual desires, and needed to be the voice of reason, care, consent, and responsibility in the situation. Freddie, on the other hand, is a 15-year-old experiencing the full force of his raging hormones, with a brain that is not fully developed and therefore cannot comprehend the full consequences of his actions yet, nor would he necessarily be able to fully control his sexual desires. This complicated and nuanced story is one that our entire creative team is eager to tackle head-on, and present to Vancouver audiences.

Despite a multitude of challenges and unpredictabilities, we cannot get this story out of our heads. We believe this production will incite challenging but important conversations about sexual health and consent that could enact real world change. Time away from this project has only deepened our curiosity about the material and made us reexamine some aspects of our approach. Through our Director’s own self-examination as an artist of European/British-settler descent, living on stolen and colonized lands, we are looking at how we can best move forward with this production in a way that is truly anti-colonial, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive in nature. Jessica is investigating her own directing and theatre production style, to ensure that when we get back in the rehearsal room and design room with all artists involved, that it can be a process that truly honours all facets of the individuals involved. One where power is shared amongst everyone in the production, and we are guiding the show in positive alignment with the values that we all wish to see manifest in our community, and in the world. 

Check out the original 2020 Trailer for the production here.

Original 2020 Cast:

Diane: Bronwyn Henderson
Freddie: Matt Reznek
Jake / Owen: Graham Miles
Pete/Mr. Abramovitch: Brent Hirose

Mary: Charlotte Wright
Georgia: Sarah Roa

Destiny: Madonna Gonzalez
Taylor: Shone Struthers
Kayla: Paige Louter
Amanda: Hailey Conner
Grace: Shelby Wyminga
Nathan: Damion LeClair
Liam: David Underhill
Rhys: Aidan Wright
Brandon: Matt Rhodes

Original 2020 Creative Team:

Set & Props Designer: Kimira Reddy

Costume Designer:  Alaia Hamer

Sound Designer: Sammie Hatch

Lighting Designer: Sara Smith

Stage Manager: Amanda Parafina

Assistant Stage Manager: Melicia Zaini

Technical Director: Victoria Bell