Our On/Offline World

With the first leg of the Showdown 2.0 tour finished, I have been thinking a lot about cyber-bullying and the boundaries between our online worlds and our offline realities. The online world has become an extension of our offline world. Our constant use of social networks has allowed the Internet to develop into a space where family, friends, and colleagues connect to each other on a whole new level. Online users are able to share as much or as little about their lives on personal profile spaces, for example, one’s Facebook profile page or Twitter feed. Often the things that we post online not only depict our interests and comment our personal beliefs, but also describe the relationships that we keep. Even though one may not put much thought into posting a vacation with close friends to a resort in the Bahamas, it tells the audience that the person is financially able to go on vacation, likes to travel, is adventurous, and has similar friends. What we post and don’t post about ourselves and others allows online viewers to get a sense of our offline world.

Our online world reflects aspects of our offline world, but we can choose what we post online. On the other hand, we cannot choose what others post about us. A person may have gone on vacation with his or her friends, photos may have been taken, and one of those friends may choose to post the photos online. Often we don’t ask if others are comfortable if we post images, information, or comments about them on our social networks. What we do in our offline world is represented in our online communities, which makes it difficult if we want to remain anonymous.

A couple of months ago my father decided to get Facebook because a family member from overseas had suggested that he sign up so that he can see family pictures that she posted on her account. My father decided to sign up so that he could keep in touch with family and friends that live far away. I helped him through the process, which was difficult as he was frustrated by all of the information that he was asked to share. We finally got through it. He was all set up, no profile picture, no interests posted, and about only 6 friends. My father recently had his birthday and those 6 friends sent kind messages to his Facebook wall. He received emails and asked me how to sign onto his account so that he could read the messages. When we signed on he had about 20 ‘friend requests’ from people he knew. My father was completely overwhelmed. I explained to him that he must reply, otherwise it is like not returning a phone call, or not answering the door when a friend knows you’re home. Feeling very overwhelmed, he explained, “I just wanted to see those pictures! This is too much for me.” Facebook wasn’t for my father, and I unfortunately helped him delete his account.

When participating in online networks we must think about how our online information connects to the outside world. Just like what we wear, how we behave, and what we say informs others about who we are, what we post also allows others to understand how we depict ourselves, our interests, and our beliefs. This forced connection between our online and offline worlds is hard to bear for some, but may allow for those who choose to connect to social networks to be responsible for what they post online.

Carina Cappuccitti

Showdown 2.0 Extended!

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Tour leg #1 is over, but it’s only the end of phase one for the cast of Showdown 2.0. Due to the overwhelming success of the school tour, and a great showcase at the TCDSB Safe Schools Symposium, MCT is bringing Showdown 2.0 back in February 2012 (February 6-24) for another sold-out tour throughout the GTA.

We have several interns here at MCT his season who had never experienced the power of Forum Theatre prior to working here. Here’s what intern Carina had to say about her first Forum performance:

“A couple of weeks ago I saw my first ever Forum Theatre play. I could tell right away that the Forum experience is a powerful one. When presented with situations and characters that are developed with the audience in mind, the play allows viewers to relate and think about how worst-case scenarios can be changed for the better. It also allows audience members to step back, view and think about how what is presented on stage fits within their community. While watching the play, not only was I thinking about what might happen next, but I also questioned how I would handle the situations presented if I was in the position of many of the characters. A Forum play like SHOWDOWN 2.0 sparks much conversation since the behaviour of characters in worst-case scenario situations can be changed in many different ways. I’m sure that when the audience of a Forum production sees a show and has the opportunity to participate through acting out resolutions for the worst-cases, the audience will be excited to learn and relate to their peers on stage.”

During the tour, we performed at and ESL school, which can present a unique set of challenges, but also opportunities to explore Forum Theatre in a different way than we usually do. MCT Co-Op student, Eslam, attended that performance:

“School that are mainly an ESL may have a little bit of an issue  to understand the play, but I noticed a lot of students helped other students to understand. This meant some talking during the play, but I think the best thing about that is that students are taking care of each other.  Also they seemed to enjoyed more of the physical and facial expressions of the characters. It was great some of the well known kids in the school volunteered to participate in the interventions and resolve the conflict in the best way possible, because it motivated others to do the same.”

Week 1 of Showdown 2.0 under our belts!

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First week. Seven shows. Showdown 2.0 is hitting it out of the park.

Check out what intern, Janie Pinard, has to say about the show:

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of the rehearsal process of Mixed Company Theatre’s Showdown 2.0. I saw the set and thought: practical. It is simple; it’s multipurpose, it can create different settings like a hallway or a cafeteria, and the design gives you a hint of the theme of the play – cyber-bullying. Next, I got to see the actors in action. It was interesting to see them explore with their characters and the set, along with their new costumes. The script was written to have the “worst case scenario”, but as a recent high school graduate, I saw many similarities and realistic situations, which makes it very easy to relate to. From what I saw in rehearsal, they have a well thought out set, a powerful message, a passionate team and hard working actors. The students are going to love it!

With all the media coverage of bullying, cyber-bullying and teen suicides as a result of bullying – the timing couldn’t be more relevant for this performance. Are you a student or educator who has seen Showdown 2.0? Comment and let us know what you thought!

By Deidre Budgell & Janie Pinard

Deidre joined MCT as Administrative Coordinator in 2010 after completing her M.A. in Theatre Studies at York University and has since moved up the ranks as Communications & Outreach Coordinator. By day Deidre’s committed to research and arts administration, but by night she enjoys moonlighting as a stage manager, having worked in Toronto and extensive work in her native St. John’s.

Janie Pinard was given the Rising Star award by Mixed Company Theatre and is now doing an internship at MCT because of her passion for promoting health among her peers and community and her passion for theatre. She worked at the Sudbury & District Health Unit as a Youth Program Advisor to assist the school health promotion staff in modifying their programming to better meet the needs of the youth in the community. Her recent credits as an actor are Mimi and choreographer in Y.E.S. Theatre’s RENT, Catherine in le TNO’s production of Les Huit Femmes, Jeannie and choreographer in Y.E.S theatre’s HAIR and Arielle in Living a Deadus Danslavillus.