Headlines Theatre

Date: 21 March, 2004
: St James Community Square, 3214 West 10th Avenue.

Reviewer: Alex Farolan





Practicing Democracy is 25 minutes in length but with the intervening solutions from the audience, it’s lengthened to another hour and a half. David Diamond, the director of this community theatre project (and many others), had to, throughout the show, consistently remind the audience that the whole idea was to live in the struggles of the impoverished characters in order to come up with different outcomes; solutions that, otherwise, might not have been suggested.

Some suggestions provided by the audience were quite helpful and were cheered on, such as having a “Day of the Poor” and establishing a permanent “Tent City” .* Other suggestions were just impossible, like the idea that one person got up on stage for—“sharing welfare” (honestly, who would share welfare?) Practicing Democracy is an excellent way for people to pitch in their ideas in order to help solve social problems.





Vancouver has been suffering with these problems. But the reality is Diamond had to repeatedly remind the audience that the show was more than an improv—I think this showed the audience members’ lack of real understanding and connection we have with people suffering cutbacks.

One scene included Angel hiding a stash of food, that she’s collected and kept for herself, from Trade and Karla, probably her two closest friends. A member of the audience yells ‘STOP!’ and totally changes the character around, suddenly making Angel this person who has no problem sharing her food. In reality, this rarely happens — I was one of the many people unaware of the armed fights that happen in food shelter lines.

Although the audience was able to participate and pitch in ideas to create a better society, it's not hard to understand we aren't in the same shoes. Nonetheless, Practicing Democracy is an innovative and creative push for the better.

2004, Alex Farolan