Mac alum helps to create more inclusive theatre

Amelia King
July 28, 2022
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Inclusive storytelling in theatre gives all folks an opportunity to see themselves on stage

From a young age, many of us have been inspired seeing versions of ourselves — or versions of ourselves we aspired to be — in TV shows, movies, books and theatre. However, we may have also come to realise there were no versions of ourselves in the media we had as children.

Hartley Reed Schuyler, a transmasculine queer performance artist, who attended McMaster University for history, saw an opportunity to provide this inspiration to youth audiences through theatre.

He applied to Carousel Theatre for Young People in Vancouver, B.C. and he became an outreach coordinator for the production Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls by Dave Deveau.

In LGBG nine-year-old Fin comes out as a boy and we observe his family adapt, with Dad accepting the change right away while Mom struggles. Both kids and parents in the audience watch Fin’s family move from good intentions to active support, embracing Fin’s transition and gender identity.

Schuyler was tasked with building a resource guide for teachers and students aged nine to 12 viewing the play to complement their classroom discussions.

“Our goal is to bring classrooms into the theatre,” explained Schuyler.

In adapting a new guide for LGBG, which was originally performed in 2018 at the Roseneath Theatre, Schuyler considered how the conversation around trans kids has changed even in just the past few years. Namely, beyond being a guide through the trans experience, it serves as a community-oriented invitation to parents, teachers, friends and peers alike to deeply evaluate their approach to caring for trans people in their lives.

The show weaves together the experiences of trans kids and those of their parents, allowing parents to also see themselves on stage. The audience learns what it means to be supportive and really show up for someone you love.

The show weaves together the experiences of trans kids and those of their parents, allowing parents to also see themselves on stage. The audience learns what it means to be supportive and really show up for someone you love.

Schuyler noted this duality in target audience is something we often don’t see, since we tend to target only one audience or another. LGBG strives to demonstrate everyone has a role to play in supporting trans youth, including parents, teachers and peers.

“Because it is a show that is so centralized in all facets of its storytelling that it doesn’t just target kids and it doesn’t just target the parents – there’s something in it for both communities and I think that’s really important,” said Schuyler.

"Because it is a show that is so centralized in all facets of its storytelling that it doesn’t just target kids and it doesn’t just target the parents – there’s something in it for both communities and I think that’s really important."

HARTLEY REED SCHUYLER, OUTREACH COORDINATOR FOR LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS

For students interested in theatre, Schuyler encouraged them to seek out opportunities that feel safe in terms of their support systems and adds sometimes smaller spaces are the ones that make the most space for people. During his time at McMaster, he was closely involved with several theatre spaces on campus, including McMaster Activist Theatre, which he felt was one the most accessible ones on campus.

Schuyler also emphasized that there is always space for everyone, even if that sometimes means carving out a space for yourself, and while he notes that can be hard work, he hopes with so many working together towards this goal, as he felt working on LGBG, it will soon be less so.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.
magnifiercrossmenuarrow-right