Tempest Theatre and Film Society in Penticton, B.C., is speaking out against bullying and is emphasizing its support for a show presented by an LGBTQ2-owned company.
According to the theatre’s managing director, Jennifer Vincent, the theatre received a threatening email that suggested a potential protest at the event Wednesday night.
“We had one vociferous complainer who emailed yesterday indicating that they were unhappy with the content of the show and the fact that it is open to all ages,” said Vincent.
“Despite there being an age recommendation on it and the show does actually request that any minors be accompanied by a legal guardian.”
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The play Unicorns Reawakened is presented by Kelowna-based Rebellious Unicorns and is a journey around queer performers and how the pandemic has affected them.
The show features three people including a drag performer.
“If you read between the lines, I think this is a greater complaint that this individual has on the world and whose voices should be heard and whose shouldn’t,” said Vincent.
“We don’t share bully tactics; we’re not interested in oppressing voices. We are interested in amplifying, questioning, talking, learning and growing together.”
After receiving the email and before the show, Tempest put out a statement on social media taking a stand against the complaint.
“There’s been an increase in this aggressive bullying tactic like this over the past couple of years at a variety of performance events,” said Vincent.
“We just really felt that we needed to stand up and say no and say no we don’t stand for that”
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Although the threats never materialized, organizers say they are frustrated with the continued hate expressed by a small group of protesters.
“I mean, it’s a sad state that when you reach out to the performers to say you’ve had such a complaint that you are willing to manage it and look after it – the response is ‘we know, this has happened before’ and it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing,” said Vincent.
The email allegedly came from a person who has been targeting Rebellious Unicorn performers across the Valley.
“There are basically two people who have been harassing us since December at all of our events and frankly it’s tiring and exhausting. We are trying to work and earn a living and they constantly come and harass us day after day and they go to each of our venues and harass them, and enough is enough,” said Rebellious Unicorns executive producer Dustyn Baulkham.
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“It’s starting to feel threatening. We did have some shoving happening at one of our events back in December, so there has been some physical altercations.”
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The show, however, will still go on. The free-to-attend production, which is funded by Heritage Canada, has already made many stops across the Okanagan.
The group is headed to the Fraser Valley next.
“The scene is set where it’s backstage, it’s opening night, finally coming out of restrictions and it’s all of us backstage getting ready for that,” said Baulkham.
“It’s great and we’ve had a lot of fun.”
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