BONAVISTA, N.L. — Writer and director Tony Ryan says his play “14” is named as such because of the age of the characters — and actors.
The drama club of Discovery Collegiate in Bonavista is working with the Tip-A-Vista Mental Health and Addictions Awareness committee again this year to present a play that touches on important issues pertaining to young people and mental health.
Featuring eight actors — seven girls and one boy — who are all in Grade 8, Ryan told The Packet via email that “14” is about being young 14-year old girls and becoming young women in a world that has been traditionally, and still to a large extent, dominated by boys and men.
“It focuses on the incongruities we all have come to accept when it comes to women,” says Ryan. “They make up 50 per cent of the world’s population, but in the areas of the arts and politics and other fields of human endeavour, their representation does not accurately reflect the percentage of the population they make up.”
He uses the example of, out of 193 countries in the United Nations only 15 are led by women.
“This ties into mental health because it ties directly to the issue of self-esteem. Too many young girls are brought up to accept that the way it always has been for women is the way it will be.”
He adds this obviously doesn’t have to be true.
“More young girls need to realize that just because someone is a man, girls should not resign themselves to the fact that men have this inherent right to be entitled just because they are male and just because they have a physical ability to intimidate or dominate the female gender,” he said.
Ryan says the story was a fairly natural one for him to write, saying he’s always been fascinated by those who have been downtrodden in society, like the civil rights movement of African-Americans in the 1960s.
“I see the history of male-female relationships in much the same light in a lot of ways,” he says. “I thought I'd like to write something that would address this topic not in a male-bashing way, but more as just a statement of fact that does not have to be a fact. It can be changed and should be changed, not just by women fighting against it but side-by-side with men also fighting towards equality for women.”
The actors themselves realize the powerful social issues tackled in a play like “14”.
“For me, it shows that women are not trying to overpower men. We are just trying to have equality that we never had back then,” says Jordan Chaulk.
“All of us (are) at such a young age and still being affected by issues like these. It shows that it needs to stop. We all need to be equal so generations after us will not have these problems,” adds Madison Hiscock.
Chloe Tremblett says the play shows the public, economic, social and mental problems women have faced for a very long time.
“It is a big problem.”
Ryan elaborated on the historical ramifications of dealing with a play like this.
“These young girls recognizing they are standing on the shoulders of their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers but, at the same time, proclaiming that they are not their mothers or grandmothers or great-grandmothers,” he said. “And what was once accepted as fate for a woman of previous generations will not be what these young women will accept as their fate.”
The play went ahead at the Garrick Theatre on Tuesday evening, June 12 at 7:30 p.m.