One Man’s struggles relate to us all
Growing up in the prairies can be challenging, but add being a gay young man in the 1970s and you have an interesting story. Director Kelly Handerek spent the past five years writing the play Small Boy DREAMS and will put it on stage for the first time on campus. DREAMS is an autobiographical play that tells Handerek’s story of his life as a gay man with the main character jumping from age 7 to 17 and older. The only actor in the play, Kent Evans, stars as Small Boy.
“Reading [the play], there was a lot I quickly identified with as a gay man growing up in the prairies. It struck deep, resonating chords,” said Evans
Handerek explained that he wrote the play because it is “time to tell a story about someone who got through that challenging time without too many traumas.” His work discusses what family is/can mean, identity, and how dreams can “sit on the shoulders of sorrows to take us through our world.”
Evans hopes the play will impact people by giving them the opportunity to talk about something that isn’t often seen in Regina and the prairies.
“Sometimes there is the chance of gay people being seen as characters and stereotypes. Being able to put the story on an equal playing field of humans experiencing human things is what this play offers the audience,” Evans said.
“I wouldn’t want anyone who’s traveling this road that Kent and I have travelled to feel that they are alone anymore. I would also hope that those who are not travelling this road could come into this jagged narrative and find aspects of their own uncertainties,” said Handerek.
DREAMS is classified as a developmental production because it will be the first time the play has been performed in front of an audience. Based on the writing, Handerek’s play was invited to go to England in a year’s time to be performed there.
In terms of the LGBT community, DREAMS covers a timeline of 30-odd years and in that amount of time both Evans and Handerek have seen changes in their community.
“As each progressive generation comes forward [being gay] becomes less of a shameful thing and becomes more of who you are. Coming out has been one of the biggest freeing things of my life,” said Evans.
“The world is trying to reshape themselves, which is wonderful. In my life, I looked forward to hearing a modern voice saying those [beatings] are remembrances of the past,” Handerek said. “Because technology has shifted so much, there are more opportunities for people to live in a multi-dimensional way. We have this amazing capacity as human beings to still be childish. This theme of childishness has some of the pangs of human life enwrapped in it. It suggests differences are allowed, accepted, and supported,” Handerek said.
Since Evans is the only actor in the play, DREAMS is an opportunity for students to see one of their schoolmates do work that a professional actor would do.
“It’s like watching someone go for a touchdown, only they are on the field alone,” said Handerek.
Small Boy DREAMS can be seen in the Shu-Box Theatre located in the Riddell Center from September 11-14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.