Huntsville students are getting a lesson in consent with an artistic twist.
Today, Huntsville High School is hosting Far From the Heart, a play presented by the community arts organization Sheatre. The presentation revolves around a high school party, which ends in someone being assaulted. But, show Co-Producer David Sereda says while the play starts out as a normal production, students will then be given an opportunity to rewind the show and change the outcome.
“You’re kind of watching it and you think ‘Oh I would have done something differently’,” says Sereda. “After the short play is finished, instead of it ending there, we actually replay certain key scenes and the students get a chance to stop the action and try their strategies by replacing somebody on stage.”
Sereda says when the student is on stage acting out the scene with the other characters, they may realize the right answer or action in that scenario may not be as clear.
“Often people find, ‘I was in that situation, I thought I knew what I was going to do, but then the other character said something and I totally lost where I was going’.”
Sereda says the main goal is to give these students a safe space to openly talk about issues like consent and dating violence and to reinforce the idea a victim of an assault is never the one to blame. He says giving students the opportunity to join the scenarios and talk about them afterwards really helps unpack the true meaning of consent and its impact on dating.
He says because of the type of content this play is focused on, Sheatre sends ahead a work package for teachers to prepare students for the conversation.
“We suggest that they do at least three or four activities before the play comes to the school,” says Sereda. “Those activities prep the kids, so that the students have an idea that we’re going to be talking about dating violence and sexual assault.”
Far From the Heart is presented to kids from grade’s seven to 12. Sereda says this is because the idea of dating generally becomes more significant during this time frame.
“If they’re not in some kind of relationship, they’re thinking about it,” says Sereda. “That’s an optimum time, if you can imagine it then you can imagine yourself on stage as well.”
He says the play is changed slightly for each level of age group within that range of students as well. He says the earlier the message of consent and what it means is conveyed to kids, the better.
Far From the Heart is only being presented at Huntsville High School in cottage country, but Sheatre will be offering a live stream of the play on November 9th. If you’re interested in checking it out you can find more details here.