No More Secrets
By Spare Change Theatre
40min / Drama / Documentary Theatre
For several decades, at least 44 students at Bell High School in Nepean were sexually abused and assaulted by three teachers. In 2016, one of those students came forward to police and became the catalyst that opened the floodgates to this horrific story of intergenerational child abuse in the nation’s capital.
No More Secrets was created and performed by students at Canterbury High School. It is based on exchanges between the victims and Julie Ireton, the CBC journalist who went public with the story. It describes how the abuse started and went on for years, the attempts of the victims, their parents and teachers to bring the abuse to light and, finally, how it all came to the surface. It also outlines the failure of the education and justice systems, which turned a blind eye to the early allegations and allowed the abuse to be perpetuated for years.
Although the subject matter of the play makes it difficult to watch, the play itself is excellent. Lighting was used brilliantly throughout: There are several reenactments of the past through shadow play behind a curtain, and spotlights were placed on the victims as they spoke, mimicking the spotlight that media shone on the story. Wearing the same outfits, the characters – the victims – convey a sense of solidarity with one another. Indeed, we see a relationship develop between two of the students at Bell who were abused decades apart, but who both came forward to seek justice for themselves and the others. The sequence of events jumps quickly through the years and from victim to victim, but the performance is so captivating that the audience doesn’t miss a beat.
Although the subject matter of the play makes it difficult to watch, the play itself is excellent.
The maturity and care these students use to tell this story is extraordinary. The teens delivered very difficult dialogue with power and respect, and demonstrated emotional and artistic intelligence far beyond their age.
What is incredible about this play is that young people decided it was crucial that this story be told on stage and took the responsibility to develop and perform a play on a difficult topic. They gave a voice to the victims who are now adults, but they also became the voices of all students, who have the fundamental right to safely go to school.
No More Secrets builds on the momentum created by the media about the Bell High School case to create an important conversation and raise awareness about the abuse that happened in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and that, sadly, still happens today. Audiences only have one more chance to catch this play–on Saturday June 22–and it will undoubtedly sell out.
No More Secrets by Spare Change Theatre is playing at LabO (10 Daly Ave) on Saturday, June 22, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.