Entertainment

Telling stories of discrimination with the goal to make change

Valerie Laub dressed in one of her costumes. - LaShaina Blair-White
Valerie Laub dressed in one of her costumes.
— image credit: LaShaina Blair-White

A Smithers woman is putting on a one-woman show to tell the stories of local people who have encountered racism and discrimination.

Valerie Laub, the playwright and actress, will be performing Skin at the Old Church on March 23 at 7 p.m.

"The way I do these plays is I interview people for whom the issue is pertinent. Then I usually take their stories with just a few edits. I really try and use their words and really their intent, and then create characters and present their stories."

Each person interviewed is from the Bulkley Valley. It came down to four different stories that she decided to present as monologues.

"I will present it in four different stories of people and around their experience around racism," she said.

During the beginning of the play, the audience will hear the voices of drama students from Smithers Secondary School reading their peers' experiences and thoughts surrounding racism.

Laub will be wearing a mask as well as different costumes to indicate each character.

She is honoured by the opportunity to speak to each individual and to hear their stories. For her, the play is a safe place for people to tell their stories and to create a bridge between their stories and the audience, not one of division.

"The people I interviewed I feel like are heroes, and not because they've suffered racism and have come through, but because of their understanding and level of forgiveness and their perspective," she said.

One of the things the play addresses is the unconscious racism found among many different societies and people.

Laub explained through conversations and developing the play, she recognized her own.

"It brought it forward for me. It also took it the next step where my unconscious and unintentional racism got blown out of the water in a way because I got to know people in a different way, in a much deeper way. It was so valuable getting to do it, you just feel so honoured by the stories that you hear and people's willingness to go that deep," she said.

The play will be about 20 minutes followed by open discussion, as well as refreshments.

Laub hopes that her play will spark discussion as well as allow people to analyze themselves.

"To make that shift from guilt and shame and take some responsibility and make a change," she said.

 

- Read the full story in the March 22 edition of The Interior News.

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