An Awkward and Embarrassing Conversation About Difference is a performance based on the idea of radical transparency. Sarah Garton Stanley is the Associate Artistic Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre English Theatre and Marcus Youssef is one of Canada’s leading contemporary playwrights. During a modular performance, Marcus and Sarah interrogate each other publicly and rigorously about their own struggles in relationship to issues of power, privilege and difference.
We are in a critical moment in our society’s relationship to inclusiveness. Institutions around the globe are searching for ways to change their internal structures and undo histories of exclusion. At the same time our collective experiences of exclusion on the basis of race, religion, class, gender, ability and a host of other differences are very difficult to speak honestly about. These conversations are often rigid, defensive, predictable, bound by ideological righteousness and heavily influenced by the call-out culture of social media. At the same time, public and performative encounters with difference can be equally limited by false positivity that is averse to conflict and reluctance to confront the very real consequences of systemic exclusion.
An Awkward and Embarrassing Conversation About Difference challenges these two binaries. Marcus and Sarah model a semi-improvised dialogue in which they have permission to be vulnerable and make mistakes. In this way they embrace personal risk, and highlight the critical importance of honesty and trust in fostering authentic inclusion and meaningful change.
“We associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid like fear, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love. When we dare to drop the armour that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” –an audience member’s experience reminded them of this quote from Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability
An Awkward and Embarrassing Conversation about Difference. Performed and Facilitated by Sarah Garton Stanley and Marcus Youssef, Directed by Chelsea Haberlin. In Development.
Produced by Neworld Theatre. Development supported by Farnham Maltings.