Squeegee (1999)

Squeegee poster

Image by: Ivy Sharon Stern

THEATRE GOES TO CITY HALL
Squeegee - first Legislative Theatre experiment in North America

May 20 - 23rd, 1999

Amidst the 15 or so community-based Theatre for Living projects Headlines does each year, we try to do one larger, mainstage project. Last year it was The Dying Game. This year it is Squeegee (A Forum Theatre project on Exploitation of Youth).

Over a months we had a series of meetings with street involved youth and youth workers. What emerged was a very powerful project that looks at issues involving exploitation of youth. This project was youth driven: created by youth, performed by youth.

It is our belief that young people are currently being made responsible for various problems in our larger society. It should be no surprise that some of the young people growing up in a society as violent as the one we have created are expressing themselves through violence. Instead of addressing the sources of this violence our Society's response has been to increase police presence and to target and criminalize youth. We encounter young people all the time who complain of harassment by police just because they are young. A perceived danger is being exploited here, in order to increase the mechanisms of order.

Youth unemployment is very high. Some young people have imported the initiative of squeegee-ing (washing car windows in traffic) to earn money. From what we understand through interviews, these young people are not doing home invasions. They are not (we suppose) resorting to prostitution. They are trying to provide a benign service. Why has law enforcement been directed to sweep them off the streets through motor vehicle by-law enforcement? These young people are being criminalized. They are being exploited in order to increase regulation in our society.

It is also obvious that some young people are turning to prostitution. This happens for various reasons, many of which are attached to issues raised above: the invalidation of people's lives, our Culture of Isolation, unemployment, hopelessness, violence, the need to push boundaries, narrowing options. Child prostitution, certainly, is a manifestation of severe exploitation of youth.

Squeegee was a vehicle for young people to express themselves concerning these issues.

Ms. Zweig attended all of performances of Squeegee. She functioned as a scribe during the interactive part of the play, gathering and collating inputs from the audience that deal specifically with issues of youth safety. These inputs were then translated from a theatrical language into a language that is more readily understandable in Council chambers. Inputs reflecting the concerns of youth which suggest changes to city by-laws or touch upon areas of city authority will be presented to Council for consideration via Ms. Montani.

Read the Legislative Report

Headlines would like to thank the following for operational and project support: Canada Council; City of Vancouver; BC Arts Council; Melusine Foundation; Vancouver Foundation; VanCity; Human Resources Development Council; Georgia Straight; Rogers Community TV.

Read the Squeegee report by David Diamond

 

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Directed and Joked by
David Diamond
Created and performed by:
Lisa, Matt, Rachael, Shorty, Yoshi and Michael Halverson*
Soundscape:
Matthew Deacon-Evans
Stage Manager &
Technical Director:
Bree Wellwood
Youth Counsellor: Sam Bob

*Most of the cast did not want their last names used in the program for
reasons of confidentiality from family.

Special recognition to
Shannon Grass for her enormous contribution to the
development of the play

 

DVD Available

 

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