I 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.