Vic High’s newest production is a powerful musical about street-entrenched youth


Victoria High School’s latest theatre production is a gritty, authentic portrayal of young people living on the streets of New York City.

“We have a platform” says Kim Sholinder, who teaches English and Theatre at the school.  “Part of our responsibility as educators, and as theatre practitioners, is to ensure that we’re using that platform to create some sort of community dialogue, to get people to talk about things that they otherwise might not be talking about, and Runaways: The Musical does just that.”

Sholinder saw this play as a powerful teaching tool, on many levels.

“I wanted the students to understand the characters they were portraying, and so we had guests from the Stigma-Free Society, we had guests from Child and Youth Mental Health, from AA, from the Mobile Youth Services Team” as well as other organizations such as the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria.

Sholinder turned to Victoria High School’s Social Justice students to facilitate that important piece.

Dilan Ilhan is a student in the social justice class who, along with a classmate, took on the challenge of finding guest speakers.

“We reached out to some local community organizations that focused on any issues or factors that could affect youth to leave or abandon their houses.  We thought that it was really important to think about those impacts, because there’s a lot of people struggling with mental illnesses, and the stigma around that.”

The subjects the speakers touched on had a strong impact on the musical theatre students.

“When you’re actually listening to someone who’s been through that stuff” says grade 12 theatre student Vanessa Jones, “you actually feel what they have felt, and what they’re going through, and you really learn a lot from them. I think it’s a really good experience.”

Marina McLaren graduated from Vic High in 2019. She returns to the school twice a week as Assistant Director, to help Sholinder produce the play.

“I’m really interested in theatre for social change” says McLaren, “so this musical is cool because they actually talk about real issues.  It covers homelessness, mental illness, and everything that’s not talked about enough.”

Another grade 12 student, James Rodriguez, was also impacted by this powerful play.

“I had no idea that plays and musicals could have this impact on the world, and how we see things.  That really inspired me, and really changed my life honestly, because I am now back into theatre, very passionate about it, and I am going into university for theatre.”

Sholinder also hopes the tough subject matter will leave an impact on the audience.

“My hope is that once people see the show, that they start to reach out to some of these community organizations. And if they are struggling with any of these issues, that they have the resources and know where to go.  In our program, we’ve got a list of different resources from the community, so that folks can know who to reach out [for help] to when they leave the auditorium.”

Runaways: The Musical will be performed at Victoria High School over various dates in late February and early March.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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