As you scroll through this guide you will find curriculum connections, an interview from the playwright, discussion questions, units of study and more. You will also be able to click on any templates, worksheets and/or graphic organizers. If you wish to create your own lesson plan from the study guide copy, we have created a lesson plan template for your use. We hope you will find this guide to be a useful resource. Should you have any questions or feedback or have inquiries about the use of this guide (which is copyright protected), please feel free to contact Karen Gilodo, Associate Artistic Director, Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This study guide was written by Marina Gomes, an Apprentice Resident Artist Educator for YPT’s 2017-18 Season, with contributions from CANVAS Arts Action Programs.
A new year of high school can be challenging. The year becomes full of expectations and students might find themselves asking: what goals do I have? How do I want this year to go? What will happen this year? All of these questions are becoming more and more complicated by social media. If adolescent experience becomes defined by social media accounts, can they ever step back and make private decisions that are truly right for them? What does it mean to stay true to oneself? Can there even be a true self when it seems as though all of our defining, private moments go public in the blink of an eye?
Staying true to YPT’s season theme “Finding Yourself”, Selfie explores how one night can change the lives of three friends and how each person navigates: what it means to stay true to oneself; develop empathy and respect for others; what it means to give and receive consent. Told through the perspectives of Lily, Chris, and Emma, Selfie embraces the struggle between expectations and reality, and emphasizes the implications that social media can have on what we believe is reality, self, and sexual consent.
In our social media-saturated world, young people are navigating how to portray themselves and communicate with one another in two very different spheres – online and in real life. Navigating these two realities is especially complicated when young people are trying to express feelings and interests in one another. In this study guide, students will explore the importance of understanding consent, especially in a social media-saturated world. The pre-show unit will guide your students through an exploration of the implications that social media can have on our understanding of ourselves and one another, and the effects that the language used online can have on a person’s mental, emotional and physical health. In the post-show unit, students will examine both nonverbal and verbal communication and their importance in understanding and negotiating consent. Students will experiment with different ways of asking for consent and taking accountability for their actions. It is our hope that this study guide will support students as they develop the tools and the language they need to take care of one another, both online and in real life.
- The Arts (Drama, Visual, Mixed Media)
- Computer Studies (Ethical Issues, Computers & Society)
- Health and Physical Education (Healthy Relationships, Sexual Health, Mental and Emotional Well-being)
- Social/ World Studies and the Humanities (Equity Status, Family Studies, Law)
- Language (Oral, Written, Media)
CHARACTER EDUCATION CONNECTIONS
- Kindness and Caring
- Empathy and Respect
- Understanding Consent
- Negotiating Changing Relationships
- Taking Responsibility
- Challenging Public Perceptions
- Maintaining Friendships in Conflict
BACKGROUND ON THE PLAYWRIGHT
Canadian playwright, actor, and dramaturg Christine Quintana is a B.C based artist making work that is not only timely, but that pushes boundaries and begs the question “Why?” Quintana has received her B.F.A in Acting from UBC and also acts as an actor/playwright and co-Artistic Producer for Delinquent Theatre.
Selfie was first commissioned by Théâtre la Seizième. Christine wrote this piece in response to high profile sexual assault cases, such as the 2012 Daisy Coleman case in Missouri. Regrettably, the themes and content of the play have become increasingly relevant in today’s society. In an interview with YPT, Christine spoke to the motivation behind the play that sprung from the Coleman case: “It was so horrific and so unbelievable, but because of that it makes it really easy to say, ‘Well, that’s not me, that’s not anybody I know … and that would never happen at my school or in my community’. So I wanted to write a piece that really looked at how it does happen, because we know it does.” The hope is that when audiences watch the play they will be inspired to truly reflect on their own lives and ask the question: “How does this happen in our community?” The full interview can be found on YPT’s blog: https://youngpeoplestheatre.org/at-the-centre/2016/12/21/selfie/.
You can learn more about Christine Quintana and her upcoming works on her website: https://christinequintana.ca/
It’s a new school year, which means new hopes and new expectations. Over the summer, friends Lily, Chris, and Emma spent time learning about themselves, who they want to be, and how they hope others see them. On the first day back at school, these social pressures reach a new level as Chris starts his first day of Grade 12 and Lily is over the moon to have her best friend Emma back from a summer exchange program in France. As social expectations increase, siblings Lily and Chris decide to throw a back-to-school party. The party is a huge hit. Everyone is drinking, dancing and, of course, ensuring that the whole night is documented on Instagram. This party, however, is not without its own set of expectations. During the summer, the separated friends have grown apart, which makes this party even more special. Lily missed her best friend Emma and decides to help the budding romance between Chris and Emma become reality. During the party, their feelings come out in the open and end with Chris and Emma going into his bedroom. The next morning, Chris is ecstatic with how their relationship has grown overnight whereas Emma can’t remember what happened. A visit to the doctor “reveals that Emma had sex. Because she cannot remember it, what happened to her amounts to sexual assault.” Emma, Lily and Chris have to face the truth of what happened and navigate how their relationships with one another have changed.
We want to help you make the best possible decision when determining whether a play is right for the young people in your life. To that end we have provided suggested age ranges, content information and educational resources. Ultimately though, these recommendations are only estimates. They cannot take into account the individual development and maturation of each young person. You know the young people in your life best. Selfie is about the complex, sometimes confusing world of teenage friendships and romantic relationships. The language and situations depicted in the play are reflective of the mature subject matter it explores. Audience members should be advised that the play looks honestly at the nature of sexual consent. In the course of the story, the characters speak about and reflect upon a rape that is not depicted but nevertheless occurs. They speak in authentic teenage voices, using explicit language including swearing throughout the play. There are also scenes in which they are drinking at a party. Should you have further questions about the content of this play you are encouraged to contact Karen Gilodo, Associate Artistic Director, Education at 416-363-5131 x224 or email@example.com.
The permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something. Sexual Consent is actively and freely agreeing to be sexual with someone. Consent is what lets someone know that the sexual acts are wanted. Consent can also be withdrawn at any time. Any type of sexual activity that happens without consent is rape or sexual assault.
How an individual may interpret, receive or understand a concept, image or performance that was created by someone else.
The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another without judgment.
A depiction of a scene, usually presented on a stage, by silent as well as motionless participants.
Refers to the range of identities of a particular individual and connects to the pronouns that are used. Gender does not have to correspond to established societal ideas of male and female and is not defined by the male or female sexual organs with which an individual might be born. Gender might also reference a social and legal status, and a set of expectations from society about behaviour, characteristics, and thoughts.
Gender roles in society references how we’re expected to act, speak, dress, groom, and conduct ourselves based upon our assigned sex. These expectations vary depending on which group an individual is a part of and can change over time.
A confidence and satisfaction with oneself.
Rights (such as a freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons.
The World Health Organization defines Sexual Rights as: “The fulfilment of sexual health is tied to the extent to which human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Sexual rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in international and regional human rights documents and other consensus documents and in national laws.” More can be accessed on their website: http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/sexual_health/sh_definitions/en/
A picture taken of oneself, by oneself. The photo can be taken in a group setting or alone.
PRE-SHOW DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- What are the ingredients for a healthy relationship?
- What are some characteristics of an unhealthy relationship?
- How do stories develop into different versions?
- Is there value in gossip?
- What role does social media play in today’s society? Does social media come with its own power or do we ourselves give it power?
- In today’s society, when are we accountable in regard to social media?
PRE-SHOW UNIT OF STUDY
Warm Up: The Conversation
This exercise is intended to create a safe space for students to experience what it feels like to ask difficult questions and not be heard.
- An open space (note: this exercise could get loud)
- Pair the students in groups of two.
- Starting all together, ask the students to start having conversations around the theme “The Grocery Store”. Students should try and have a cohesive conversation, however they are only allowed to have this conversation using questions. The conversation has to be re-started when a student cannot keep up with the rhythm of the conversation or makes a statement instead of asking a question.
- Throughout the exercise give the students different themes. After “Grocery Store” introduce “The Airport” then “A First Date”.
- Ask students to form a circle.
- Ask for two student volunteers to enter the circle.
- Each person will decide on their own topic of conversation. Ask students to start a regular conversation about their topic with one another. The game ends when the first person starts to stumble and stops speaking.
- Next, ask two new student volunteers to enter the circle. These students will argue opposing sides to the question: “What is a better way to ask someone out — in person or by text?” They must make their points at the same time as their partner. The game ends when the first person starts to stumble.
- Repeat with different partners.
- When does it get uncomfortable to ask questions?
- What are the consequences when we don’t allow individuals to express themselves?
- How does miscommunication occur?
- What are indications of who has power in a conversation?
- How can we respect another person’s opinion when it is the opposite of our own?
Pre-show Exercise #1: First Impressions
The aim of this exercise is to explore the implications of how pictures posted online affect our understanding of an event.
- Appendix A: Photo of couple
- Writing utensils
- Slips of papers (one per student)
- A container for the paper slips
- Distribute slips of paper and writing utensils to all students.
- Show the picture to the students.
- Have students write down three comments that they would make on that photo if it showed up on Instagram. This is to be done independently and silently.
- Have students fold, then place their papers in the container.
- Randomly draw slips of paper, and read the comments out loud.
- What types of pictures are worth posting?
- What makes a picture worth commenting on?
- When posting, what kinds of pictures are considered private? When do you need permission to post a picture of someone else?
- How do pictures affect our understanding of an event?
Pre-Show Culminating Exercise: Physical Consequences
The objective of the exercise is to physically explore the effects that language can have on an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical health.
- Space to move
- Appendix B: List of comments
- Have the students find their own space in the room.
- Put half the class in Group A and the other half in Group B.
- Everyone starts off in a ‘Super Hero’ Pose. Ask the students to look around the room at everyone’s poses.
- First, read the list of positive comments, and with each comment ask the A’s to adjust their poses if necessary. How does the comment affect them physically? How do their poses change, if they change at all?
- Ask the students in Group A to hold that pose.
- Repeat step 4 with Group B and the Negative Comments.
- From where they are standing, ask the group to look around at all the different poses in the room.
- Release the poses and discuss the exercise.
- Describe the physical differences of the effect of different “comments”.
- Is there a point where comments become irrelevant? If so, when does one stop being affected by them?
- Is there a difference between how language is used online and how it is used in real face-to-face conversations? Discuss the effects of seeing the physical impacts.
- If you comment, do you become a part of the post? What is the responsibility and power of the commenter?
POST-SHOW DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- What comes next for Lily, Chris, and Emma? Can they have the lives they dreamed of at the beginning of the play or are their futures decided by this event?
- Who has the most power in the play? Does that ever change, and, if so, how?
- Whose story is this? Why?
- Can trust be rebuilt once it is broken? If not, why? If so, how?
- How does Instagram help or hurt the characters?
- How would the story change if Chris and Emma weren’t interested in dating each other? Do the rules ever change based on the context in which they occur?
- How do we learn about consent?
- Why is it so hard for couples to talk to each other about sex?
- Where can adults go wrong in talking about sex and consent with teens?
POST-SHOW UNITS OF STUDY
Students will work with a partner to explore the importance — and sometimes ambiguity — of nonverbal communication.
- Space to move
- Chart Paper
- Have the students pick a partner and indicate who is Person A and Person B.
- Person A will begin as the leader and Person B will follow.
- The leader will begin making a series of movements and the follower must “mirror” their movements as best they can. (The facilitator can demonstrate, if necessary).
- After two minutes, Persons A and B will switch roles.
- Remind students: there is no talking in the game.
- Assign the students different partners at random.
- Repeat the activity explained in Part 1.
- Did any challenges come up in following along with your partner?
- What extra challenges arose because you couldn’t speak?
- What strategies did you use to make it easier to read/communicate with your partner?
- Do you think the game would have changed if you’d been allowed to speak?
- What is the difference between verbal and non-verbal cues?
- Can you think of any real-life situations when it could be difficult “reading” or understanding a friend/other person’s thoughts; for example, online, texting, “hook-ups” when you’re uncomfortable talking/communicating verbally, situations when alcohol/substances are involved, etc. (Highlight that, as we saw in the game, when people are doing things they haven’t tried before and/or are with people they’re less familiar with, non-verbal consent isn’t always effective).
Pre-Show Exercise #1: Confirming Consent
Activity developed with CANVAS Arts Action Programs
Note: You know your students best. Please carefully consider whether or not this exercise is right for your class before proceeding.
Students will explore and discuss the different kinds of language that can be used around giving and ensuring consent.
- Ask students to discuss: When do you need to have consent?
- Put students in groups of 4-5. Each group will draw two prompts, one from each column.
- Students will use their prompts to come up with a scene in which the first line is the prompt from column A, and the last line is the prompt from column B. The scenes should be centred around a moment when consent might be needed. Each scene must have a minimum of 6 lines. At least one or two groups should receive a “Don’t” prompt from column B.
- Students will present their scenes to the class.
- After each scene, discuss with the students who were watching as to what they thought was happening in the scene, and how appropriate the final response was. Was there anything that the characters could have said differently? For the presenting students, discuss what their first impressions of the scenario were when they received their two prompts, and how that affected their choices for their scene?
- How do you know when consent has been given?
- Were there any prompts in the exercise that would be uncomfortable to say in a real life situation? Why or why not?
- Why can it be difficult to say some of these phrases?
- What assumptions do we make when we don’t check in with others about how they’re feeling?
Post-Show Culminating Exercise: Apology Accepted?
Activity developed by CANVAS Arts Action Programs
Building on the language they have been exploring, students will script an apology from the perspective of a character in the play.
- Appendix D: Excerpt from Selfie
- Ask two students to read the excerpt from the play.
- Discuss Chris’s apology. Do you think it is a good apology? Why or why not? Was there anything that went unsaid?
- Ask the students to break into groups of four to five. Together, the students will re-write the apology that Chris gives to Emma at the end of the play. Encourage the students to reflect on the language that was explored in the previous exercise. Also encourage the students to think about the kinds of nonverbal language that Chris should use to indicate that he means to apologize sincerely.
- Students will share their apologies with the other groups, and discuss the merits of each apology.
- When is it important to apologize?
- When is it difficult to apologize?
- In the wake of all of the recent sexual assault allegations against celebrities and politicians, are there any examples of genuine or insincere apologies that stand out?
- What happens when an apology is not accepted?
APPENDIX A: Photo of Couple
APPENDIX B: Comments
APPENDIX C: Prompts from CANVAS
APPENDIX D: Excerpt from Selfie
SOURCES & RESOURCES
Project Consent that can be found on Instagram
Criminal Code – Information about Defining Consent
CANVAS Arts Action Programs