Why We Exist
Here’s just one example of a past production that illustrates the innovative ways Downstage brings theatre to Calgarians and inspires conversations about topics that matter to them.
Sixteen-year old Sunny needs to talk about what’s been happening to him. Cloistered in the Forest Lawn bedroom of his friend Keira, he starts a live video for his loyal followers who know him from his lip-sync performances as rihannaboi95. As you watch on your computer or phone, Sunny spills his heart out to you, talking, dancing and crying as he works through the events of the last few days.
rihannaboi95 was a play by Canadian writer Jordan Tannahill that was performed live by a solo actor in a bedroom and livestreamed to viewers in Calgary as well as across Canada and several international locations. Dealing candidly with bullying, identity and the pain of self-invention, the show offered viewers an intensely empathetic first-person account of a queer teen’s experience at a time when Gay-Straight Alliances were becoming an increasingly polarized issue in Alberta.
During and after the show, audience members had access to an anonymous chat. Teen viewers connected openly with adults their parents’ age about navigating their sexual and gender identities and the challenges they faced within their high schools – a powerful bridge between experiences made possible through a great piece of art.