Why Hate, Why Love, Why Riot

get to see lots of neat things in my position as storyteller for the Vancouver School Board. But I haven’t seen to many things that would top the boundless creativity that was encapsulated in today’s Grandview Elementary School play Why Love, Why Hate, Why Riot about the Stanley Cup riot told from the perspective of Grade 4 to Grade 7 children.

The play was created by Grandview students originally exploring the topic through improv with their “artist-in-residence” Terri-Lyn Storey. Storey says the concept of the play took its form out of acting workshops as students sought to understand how the riot could take place in such a rich and safe city as Vancouver. Twelve student actors played adults caught in real time during the hockey riot that made news across the world. There were a melange of characters including a news reporter and camera man, interveners as well as people who witnessed and participated in the riot.

It was fascinating to watch for a number of reasons. It was interesting to see elementary school students’ perspective on events that shook up many adults around Metro Vancouver and around the world. The key word that came across in all of the skits was the word “disturbing” as well as the senselessness of the entire situation. The big question? How could this happen?

Students identified and then pilloried a character who stole bags that were lying around “on the ground”. They documented the confusion of elderly citizens watching it all on fold on TV. Scenes were broken up by fist fights and general chaos and the entire performance ended with a chorus of kids holding wooden signs scribbled with kind words similar to those adorning the Bay and other targets of the riot in the aftermath.

Perhaps most interesting was the student’s critique of the media and their coverage of the event. Several times throughout the play, a “Global TV” journalist, primped and preened in front of her camera man as she sought to find the “action” of the night. It was particularly interesting considering the number of TV cameras and journalists covering the performance that day in the lead up to the riot anniversary. The irony was not lost on anyone.

All and all, the performance was a fantastic reminder that the horrible event a year ago Friday touched on all of our lives, including our youngsters.

Quinn Buter – The Performer

Who are you?

My name is Quinn Buter. I’m a 10 year old boy from Richmond BC. I have a dog named Hanna and a sister named Josie. [Editor's Note: Quinn is the favourite son of my cousin, Terri. We have an arrangement where he refers to me as "Great Cousin John" and I profile him on high-traffic websites like this one].

What do you do for fun?

I like play video games (Super Mario Galaxy with Josie), draw comics (I may or may not have plagiarized Garfield) – I’m currently creating a superhero comic strip called “Bonfire” and it is very awesome. I also like to hang out with my friends: Josh Booth, Matt Dudicourt and Thomas O’Brien.

What is your favourite community and why?

Merville. Because there are more trees than Richmond. More forest. It’s adventurous and more fun than anywhere else. I like to hang out with Uncle Geoff and Auntie Janet and catch koi fish from the pond. Next time, Uncle Geoff promised that we would start a social enterprise: we will catch more koi and sell the extras to raise money for a charity.

What is your superpower?

First, I am the best Foursquare player in the world. Second, I have the ability to “go whack” and engage audiences with this power.

How do you use this power to build community?

I think going whack helps because it makes people comfortable. We are who we are and no one should change that. So, when I go whack and get a little weird it makes people feel like they can do whatever they want, too. For me, community means acceptance and openness to new things.

My Three Favourite Things About Quinn Are…

1. Stage Presence. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Quinn – in the role of the stuttering Paya – perform in some pretty exceptional musical theatre. And semi-professional acting is just one way that he showcases his stage presence. In my family – especially my mom’s side – you need to speak up if you want to be included in the conversation/song/performance/improv-sketch that happens to be unfurling at the party/barbecue/dinner/holiday-celebration. We’re a chatty bunch. Quinn gets us to take notice. In fact, he so impressed us during Weddingmania 2010 auditions that Michelle and I gave him a very important speaking part during the reception. People are still saying, “who was that kid?!”

2. Mentorship. Quinn, whether he knows it or not, is part of a quintuple-mentorship-program. My grandfather, Finn,  mentored my dad, Geoff. My dad mentors me. I mentor Quinn. And Quinn looks out for and mentors his cousin, Owen, who is now in kindergarten at Quinn’s elementary school. Soon, Little Owen will be able to catch koi fish with the Jedi-like dexterity of his older cousin. Because that’s what mentorship is all about, growing potential for the future.

3. Flat-out Funny. He makes me laugh, man. In fact, he makes many, many people laugh. The kid’s as sharp as they come and he has a truly genuine way about him. Quinn’s humour doesn’t come at anyone else’s expense and is very inclusive. A few years ago, at a family barbecue, he hopped over a fence to retrieve a baseball (which he had only moments ago cracked into the neighbour’s backyard) – while the ordeal itself (cousin Darren and I lifting him over the fence) was funny enough, Quinn’s face poking back over the fence with a look of desparation thrown across it saying, “Mom, hurry, there’s a big dog after me!” took the whole thing to another level. Well played, Great Cousin Quinn, well played.

As told by John Horn…