Dead Ahead isn't like any of the kiddy plays you remember seeing in school, but perhaps that's a good thing.
The plays running at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People are setting a new trend in theatre world by teaching youth about the big, bad world around them, instead of showing the usual sugar coated fantasy stories.
Dead Ahead features a story about Cory, Andrew and Tiga who are all avid players of the violent video game, Dead Ahead. The goal of the game is “Gangland Supremacy in Mega City” where society’s rules, mores, and morality have little currency.
Using the game format as a framing device, this teen thriller examines group dynamics, societal responsibility, and ultimately - teen homicide. As the drama unfolds, the play’s characters are thrust into a moral dilemma when one of them commits murder. Is the murder justified? Is murder ever justified? Should they cover up the crime, or should they call the police?
In a striking conclusion, the play becomes interactive – and the audience must decide how the ending will be played out.
While I was originally terrified by the concept of the play and figured it for another strike against the gaming industry, I was impressed to hear why the author, Edward Roy choose to write the play as he did and was glad to see someone else trying to get the word out that real world violence amongst youth today goes deeper than video games and rap music.
Dead Ahead is currently playing at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People in Toronto and for ticket and perfomance schedules, go to www.lktyp.ca
"I started investigating how many teens were murdering their parents," said Roy, "and that both fascinated and horrified me."
Dead Ahead doesn't take the easy way out by suggesting video-game violence leads directly to actual instances of murder, but Roy warns us about what happens when an entire generation grows up playing games "where they shoot guns, people fall and yet nothing lasting happens."
Perhaps the most frightening thing that Roy has clued into is that real-world violence itself isn't the scariest part of the equation: it's the impulse that leads to it.
"A lot of kids walk around today," says Roy, "and their emotional baseline is repressed rage. They don't know how to identify it. They don't know how to deal with it.
"The wrong kid in the wrong place at the wrong time is capable of murderous actions we couldn't even begin to imagine."
McInnis feels that putting plays like these onstage ultimately does more good than harm.
"I know that some people feel we're running the risk of encouraging violence in our children by exposing these emotions, but I feel that they're far more dangerous if they're left repressed.
"We live in a world today where violence is so much a part of everything around us that to deny it is to create an atmosphere that gives it far more importance than it ought to have."
Roy reminds us that we must never forget that "to young adults of a certain age, what's most important to them is not what their parents think of them, but the approval of their peer group."
That's what winds up being so lethal in Dead Ahead, The issue is not whether it's right for one individual to kill another, but what peers think of that action.
"Kids today don't care what they think of themselves or what their parents think of them. It what their friends think that matters the most."
To hear more about the play from the Director's point of view, click here for a video interview
[Quotes Via Toronto Star.com]