Dear Amanda Todd – Day 24
Today at Fredericton High School someone asked where Amanda Todd was from. I answered Vancouver, and there was some uncertainty among the students so I said she is Canadian for sure, and then made a mental note to get all my facts straight. Immediately after the show I looked it up, and she was in fact from Vancouver. I then kept reading, refreshing on Amanda’s story, something that I read what seems like eons ago. What struck me was the date on which she died and how she did it. It was October 10th 2012 by hanging. Just days over a year ago. A year…
And hanging. Because of all of the crude pictures of Amanda and bleach bottles I always thought that was what killed her; but that was an attempt that failed. My heart sunk. For the second showing of the play that day I felt more connected to Amanda. I felt like I was doing it for her and I only realized that when I went off stage after being beaten up near the end of the play. I was crying, heavy hearted, sick from the cruelty of it all, but I also felt solid and connected to Amanda; the brave 15 year old who stood up to the world by telling her story online.
So… Dear Amanda Todd,
It has been a year since your death and I know you are missed greatly. I wish you could know the impact you are having today, the amount of kids that are hearing your story, watching your video. I can hear sniffles in the crowd often and feel the tension rise as the play unfolds further and further. Everyone wants to know how much of the story we are sharing is identical to your own. We tell them to watch your video and see for themselves. I miss you Amanda and I don’t know you. But I hope that what you have gone through will bring hope. Bring hope in those dark moments when we sit at our computers lost, when we cry ourselves to sleep, when we hide or change who we are out of fear, when we make a mistake and think there is no way out. I hope what you have experienced can change something.
Amanda, what we do is for you.
Fredericton – Day 25
Crisscross applesauce. A saying we have heard multiple times by teachers at the Fredericton elementary schools urging their classes to stay seated on their bums. Kids have been very vocal the past few weeks and often shifting around in their seats, up and down. Much like an ocean, as Dean once described to us. It has been very entertaining for me to sit backstage and listen. At Thorndale Elementary in Pierrefonds when the bully began to speak for the second time accompanied but the “Jaws” theme, one boy said “Oh God”. It was so full of dread and understanding for Derwent and came out on an exhale, a private personal comment, not really meant for anyone to hear. Another kid was amazed at the fact that I come in and out of the elastic back wall, “she is on the other side!” they said to the room. And all kids are amazed by the bruise on Derwent’s arm, oooo-ing and Awww-ing when he reveals it; and at every talkback someone asks if it is real.
For Shared Account we have also had a couple very vocal audiences. At Marie Clarac in Montreal North the girls reacted to everything: laughing, groaning, and even a few loud gasps. I was particularly nervous to be performing in front of a completely female group, but once we got going my nerves subsided and it felt good to be in a conversation with them. We would do something, they would react, and it went back and forth that way. They also had a lot of sympathy for dad. The room followed his chat scenes with great anticipation, giggling at the flirtations and cursing his stupidity at the con. At one point, after one of the last chat scenes with dad, the girls were so vocal a teacher had to quiet them down. I was on stage and ready to go and they were still reacting to the previous scene. Those are the kind of loud moments we don’t mind waiting for. I sat there and listened to the ‘oh my god’s and ‘no way’s and then I continued and they kept right along with me.
At the end of that show Derek was given a great compliment by being asked if he was actually my dad. Now, this is something he did not like at first… But, to be thought of as my father means his physicality, the gray hair, his voice, everything added up and he was believable through and through. We then told them we were both the same age, two girls in back high-fived (undoubtedly someone guessed his age right).
Yesterday we went to Fredericton High School, our first day of two Shared Account’s in a row and our largest audiences yet. It was a treat for us to be in an auditorium and on a stage and yet I felt kind of funny having the audience so far away from us. We have gotten accustomed to having them right there, in gyms, and I never realized until now how much a theatre can separate an audience from the actors. But those shows were great! Someone at the talkback asked if what we are doing is helping anyone, and we just said we hope that it is. We told them a bit about the reactions we have gotten so far, and we could feel the calm acceptance of the fact that it isn’t easy. That even people we have brought this to have confessed to having a rough time. At Fredericton High there was also a choice to opt out of seeing our performance. This was for the people who thought it hit too close to home and who would maybe not feel comfortable seeing the show. I feel bad that some girls didn’t come… Maybe they, out of everyone, would have gotten something to carry with them.
So now, after eating an abundance of home cooking at our respective Thanksgiving dinners, we are back on the road. It has felt good, easier than the first leg because we know what we are doing. We know what to expect. And yet, every school is different. Every school brings a new energy to the show and we get something different every time.