I chose to see the show Braced, written and performed by Rebecca Steele because I, too, am “braced”. I wear an AFO, ankle foot orthotic, as a result of permanent damage to my sciatic nerve to my right foot from a herniated disc. And I, too, wrote a play, which I took to the Regina and Edmonton Fringes, based on my story called Dusty Shoes.
But.. this isn’t about me. Although, my reaction to Steele’s play comes from my sensitive perspective and I can appreciate, maybe a little more than the average person, what she went through wearing a brace for her scoliosis.
High school and adolescence are challenging enough in the normal sense but throw in a back brace, one that has to be worn for over a year, and your plate is anxiously full. My own medical challenges came later in life, however, still had its own impact.
Each performance…… Steele bravely relives the doctors’ diagnoses, her panic over the brace, her high school rejections, frustrations, her new friendships in drama, her withdrawn moments and finally the discovery of a new love, acting. It’s a coming of age story through a plastic apparatus that in the end becomes her friend who saves her from an operation.
We believe Steele as she plays herself, and her supporting cast, so to speak. The hot English teacher, three friends who reject her, her new drama friend, the geeky boy who wants to be her friend, her Mom, her Dad, and the various doctors.
It’s another play about becoming true to yourself and following your path. My play had that message, too, albeit from an older perspective! There must be something in the air!
My sense is that this form of theatre could be an excellent training piece for doctors, counselors, parents alike to help them see another side, and give them a place to express their own feelings in these situations.
It’s too late to see her Vancouver Fringe Show, but I have a feeling she will be continuing her mission to help high schools students so check out her website and cheer-lead her on!
Vive le Théâtre!
(written for the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance)