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Providence professor’s play shares the “voices among us”
“I want people to be safe,” says Val Hiebert. “I want people to be safe and feel safe in my community. That’s what drives all the energy I put into this.”
“This” is an upcoming play to be staged October 28 and 29 at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School theatre. Entitled Still Listening…Voices Among Us, it draws on the experiences of nearly 30 people interviewed by Hiebert—each a current or former Southeast Manitoba resident, and each a figure from within or around the local LGBTTQI* community.
“The experience of talking with them was a privilege,” says Hiebert, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Providence. “It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.”
Hiebert is passionate about human rights, and this production is one example. She also speaks into women’s issues and issues of intersex, human trafficking, pornography and children and violence.
The play, which includes eight characters and 13 singers and musicians, is being put on by Steinbach Neighbours for Community—a group with which Hiebert is involved and which seeks to create safe spaces and networks in the region.
“We feel the community needs better forums for conversation, and we hope to foster that,” she says.
As a production, Still Listening…Voices Among Us collapses Hiebert’s interviews into eight characters, each of whom tell a story but don’t directly interact with one another.
“I had all these stories, but I didn’t have ‘a’ story,” explains Hiebert. “That was the most complicated challenge. I had to create a piece that still had some kind of narrative thread in it. It had to go somewhere.”
Hiebert says there is a transformative message that emerges as the narrative progresses, but that there isn't an entirely uniform conclusion.
“I won’t give you the ending,” she says, smiling.


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