On the Friday evening of November 30, 2018, at a theatre on Queens Street West in Toronto, along with three others, I watched a performance of the play #ChurchToo. Told from the perspective of victims, this two-hour drama portrays seven stories about sexual abuse and abuse of power within a church setting.
The play effectively and artfully touched on themes such as power imbalances, denial, silence, grooming, guilt on the part of the victim, and male heroes in the Bible who used their power and position to victimize women.
To give one example, in the first vignette, the audience is given a picture of the convoluted emotions of a 14-year-old and an understanding of how the process of grooming for sexual exploitation works. The teenager was ranked the 18th most attractive in her class (out of 18 girls). When she shares this with her trustworthy pastor, “Pastor Drew,” the pastor begins the process of manipulating her for his own future pleasure.
For more information and a review of the #ChurchToo play, visit the following three websites:
I offer the following personal reflections. The seven stories were acted out with power and emotion. It became clear to me that theatre is a very effective conduit to confront difficult realities such as sexual abuse within the church. As the play switched from one story to another, the fact that the four actors were able to quickly and convincingly take on different characters, was truly remarkable.
I applaud the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada for commissioning the #ChurchToo play. Kudos to the four actors for their great performance, to the director and playwrights for taking on such a challenging subject, and to the Theatre of the Beat for their dedication to a social justice drama.
My hope and prayer is that this play will help us all to make our churches safe places for everyone.
Grace CRC of Scarborough Ontario