The Paprika Festival is a performing arts festival that highlights the work of young and emerging artists, on from May 14 – 20 at Native Earth Performing Arts’ Aki Studio. We spoke with six of the teens involved in this year’s festival to hear what they want to see more of on Toronto Stages.
I think it is time playwrights and theatre-makers in general stop putting a modern spin on plays from history that are perfect the way they are. If I go to see Shakespeare, I want to hear the old English on the stage, not the modern way we talk.
The opinions of Canada’s youth need to be represented more, seeing that we are the future. Throughout high school, I felt that in certain classes our opinions were immediately invalidated by our teacher, and that we were not given the opportunity to debate issues we had questions about. Being told “that’s the way it is” is not a good enough answer. We youth see our world and realize it is not perfect, and we can help improve it. We just need someone to listen. Theatre is the perfect platform for this.
I’d love to see more theatre that offers up that intangible sense of wonder. To me there is something extraordinarily compelling about watching performances that transport the audience to a different reality—with magic, fantasy, the beautiful and the bizarre—while covertly asking tough questions and demanding hard truths.
I also still want to see more faces and voices like my own in Toronto performance. It is so inspiring to see creators such as David Yee, Nina Lee Aquino, Ins Choi, Marjorie Chan, and many others producing work in this city, and showing developing artists such as myself that there is a place for Asian faces and Asian stories in Canadian theatre.
I would love to see more exploration of Indigenous sexuality in both traditional and contemporary contexts.
Teenagers. I just want to see more people of my age range not relying on social media platforms and controversy. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube are offering more opportunities for teens to openly express themselves. But they can also make it seem like you need a big social media following to accomplish anything. It’s easier for someone to become a model on Instagram than to accomplish something that takes actual talent and hard work. The impact social media standards have on teens is to make them think that they should follow trends rather than stay true to themselves and show their talents for what they are, and I don’t like that!
Jesse Hugh Wabegijig
Indigenous Arts Program
I want to see more art that is grounded in cultural traditions and history, specifically art that has something to say beyond the contemporary colonial viewpoint. I have found that people need to start tracing their heritage to a time when they were Indigenous. The saddest thing to see is a colonialist who doesn’t know how colonized they have been.