This one, really touches my heart. John Arnalukjuak High School is in Arviat, on the west shore of Hudson Bay (Nunavut Territory of Canada) and is primarily an Inuit community. The school’s drama club recently produced The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note. Suicide is a topic that hits home on a regular basis in Arviat. In a community of 2400 there are 1-2 suicides every year. Director Gord Billard sent us photos and an email about their experience and I asked if we could share it with you. Gord writes:
“It was important for me and my young actors to address this sensitive issue head on in a play. We read and reviewed 3 scripts on the topic and my Inuit thespians chose Lindsay’s excellent script because it offered the most hope, some humour, a very believable conversational tone and a feel-good ending that encourages looking forward. English is very much the second language of my student actors and this the most ambitious script and most intellectually and emotionally challenging project we’ve tackled in my 10 years here.These young people gave a show that was true to the script and added so much of themselves to the characters throughout the 3+ month rehearsal process that it still leaves me inspired almost 2 weeks later.
Lindsay, thank you for a script that I initially thought might be inaccessible to the culture, experience and mentality of the children I teach. However, they embraced it and it reached out to them. They really blew me away as well as many others, youth and adults alike. They learned so much about suicide and themselves. The cast and crew are now a close-knit group of supportive individuals who are already organizing suicide awareness walks and investigating possibilities to take the show to another community! With your script and our encouragement, we have managed to light a few fires and initiate a call to action.”
Thank you Gord for sharing your wonderful story. I’m always so thrilled to hear when a script of mine reaches that universal point – when it doesn’t matter what part of the world the actors are from, they find something to relate to at the core of the work. Hearing about this experience means more to me as a writer than any award, any imaginary theatrical standard, any person who thinks writing for youth is substandard.
I’m so proud to be a writer for youth and to play a small part in this experience.