Alexis Stockford, Contributor Ω
“Put me out of business. I would love to be out of business.”
It’s not what you would normally hear from a young professional, but it’s exactly what actress Meghan Gardiner challenged the 60 audience members in the TRU Alumni Theatre to do during her powerhouse production, Dissolve, last Thursday.
Sponsored by the TRU Wellness Centre, TRUFA Status of Women and Equality Committee, and the TRU Residence and Conference Centre, Dissolve incorporates over half a dozen characters (all played by Gardiner) to explore the topic of drug-facilitated sexual assault.
Gardiner is one of few victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault to publicize her experience and is self-admittedly the first to express those experiences through art.
Since its debut, Dissolve has turned into an unexpected national success. Gardiner has received critical acclaim for her work, including recognition from the American Alliance for Theatre in Education and a 2011 nomination for the YWCA Women of Distinction award.
“I did six shows at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in 2003 and it has turned into over 600 in 10 years,” Gardiner said.
Despite the success of the production, Gardiner told the audience that she would be happy to stop doing the play since it would mean that her message was no longer needed. When asked what could be done to address the issue, Gardiner said that the first step is awareness.
“I think there needs to be more education on the issue and on the definition of what consent really is,” Gardiner said. “We have to get really clear on the fact that if you’re under the influence of anything, whether you’ve taken it voluntarily or not, whether it’s alcohol or drugs, you cannot consent and any action past that is sexual assault.”
This is the fourth time that Gardiner has performed at TRU and the third time that she has shown Dissolve. The Jan. 30 production was a hit among audience members for its creativity, innovative twist of humour and its powerful content.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said student Courtney McLaughlin. “I thought she was really good at capturing all the different characters and showing the different attitudes that each character had.”
According to Wellness Centre co-ordinator Chelsea Corsi, events that explore sexuality, like Dissolve, are very relevant to student life.
“Over 80 per cent of university students are sexually active,” Corsi said. “I feel that’s a big majority; that we need to start talking about sex … It’s still a taboo topic even though it’s visually everywhere in our face, and part of that is about consent.”
Rights to the show have recently been handed over to Vancouver theatre company Shameless Hussy Productions, who will begin touring the production internationally.
For more information on sexual health and issues, visit TRU’s Wellness Centre located in Old Main or visit their website www.tru.ca/wellness.