Shared stories of Windsor youth build basis for Anywhere But Here

A new play takes a look at some of the difficult, stressful and life-threatening situations young people are facing in their lives, even if they are ill-equipped to deal with them.

New play developed through workshops involving youth from the community

Brandon Chappus and Nicole Fontaine are seen rehearsing the play Anywhere But Here. (Mikeal Piccinin/Submitted)

The story at the centre of Anywhere But Here concerns a young man with mental-health issues who has fallen from a bridge and some friends and loved ones who are trying to get him some help.

"There's been an accident and we don't know if it was intentional or not," said Tamara Kowalska, the executive director of the Windsor Youth Centre, which helped facilitate the production.

A sister, a former girlfriend and the best friend of that young man each find themselves thinking back on some prior experiences as they wait for an ambulance to arrive.

But the play, which is being staged at the Olde Walkerville Theatre, is about more than the dramatic events unfolding on stage.

More broadly, the play is examining the types of situations that many young people find themselves facing in real life and the challenges they must confront in dealing with them.

Hailey Bennett is one of the actors performing in Anywhere But Here. (Mikeal Piccinin/Submitted)

"It's about how, essentially, sometimes society asks young people to respond to situations without first preparing them for those situations," Kowalska said. "There's a lot of youth in our community who are having to deal with very adult situations, but we're not preparing them with the skills … to respond to these crises."

Anywhere But Here is the product of a series of workshops involving young people from the community, who shared personal stories that helped form the script for the play.

In particular, Kowalska said these young creators have given the play an authenticity that can be seen in the language the play's characters are speaking on stage.

These youth did get some help with the production from Chris Rabideau, the director, as well as Kowalska and local writer Michael Krym.

But Kowalska said these older contributors were simply providing direction, while the young people worked on the finer points of the story.

"It was the youth who provided the real language that is in the script for the most part," she said.

The show is being performed at the Olde Walkerville Theatre on both Thursday and Friday nights.

Tickets are $15. Anyone who would like to purchase a ticket should call 519-253-2929.

With files from the CBC's Robin Brown and Windsor Morning