Getting the Message

Editor’s Note: Amber Church’s assignment was to gather some impressions of Yukon Educational Theatre’s latest production from a few young audience members who saw it before it travelled to Yukon communities.

Dean Eyre’s new play, Wake and Bake, takes an in-depth look at the lives of two sisters and their experiences with drug use.

Opening in Whitehorse on October 12, the play is touring rural Yukon communities, aiming to connect with young Yukoners by creating dialogue around a subject many adults would prefer to ignore.

One of the play’s characters, Tammy, sums that with a line: “There’s no secrets here except from the adults who just don’t want to look at what’s right there.”

“I thought the play spoke to the experiences of Yukon youth. You could tell that they had done a lot of research on their experiences,” says Suzie Dunn, community outreach coordinator for Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE).

“I especially liked the character, Tammy. She reminded me of people I knew growing up in the Yukon who were struggling with abuse and addiction.”

The play focuses on Tammy’s older sister Cheryl, a Justin Bieber-listening, hardworking, strong student who stays away from drugs and alcohol. She attends a high school in Whitehorse while Tammy lives with their addict mother in their home community.

Due to an abusive relationship at home, Tammy comes to stay with Cheryl. She and a savvy drug dealer, Vic, draw Cheryl into the world she has tried hard to avoid.

As the play progresses, Tammy explains that she likes how marijuana “carves all the edges off things.”

Cheryl eventually turns to prescription oxycodone to handle her stress, because it makes her feel as if “nothing bad could ever happen.”

“I think this play is a great starting point for both youth and adults to talk about the high level of youth substance users in the North,” Dunn says. “It talks about a few of the different reasons people choose to use: to fit in, to relax, to escape, or because someone you like offers it to you.”

For Magda Taylor, a Canada World Youth participant from Courtenay, B.C., the play “challenges the normalization of drug use among youth and puts a creative twist” on drug awareness education.

“It allows youth to think independently about drug use and put themselves in the shoes of the characters. Wake and Bake shows that drugs are not the only option for youth, and there are many resources for youth who need help.”

“It was a really good play,” adds Bohdana Knysh, a 19-year-old from Ukraine who is also in the territory as part of the Canada World Youth program.

“This play shows youth how not to succumb to peer pressure and always have their own opinion,” Knysh adds.

A health fair, drug and alcohol officials and a counsellor are accompanying Wake and Bake during its tour of the territory.

By November 8, the last performance, the play will have visited almost every Yukon community, including Haines Junction, Watson Lake, Teslin, Carmacks, Mayo, Pelly Crossing, Faro, Ross River, Dawson City and Old Crow

“I’m sure it will be a hit in all the communities they travel to,” says Dunn. “The actors [Caili Steel as Cheryl, PJ Prudat as Tammy, Vanessa Marshak as Josée and Manesh Sharma as Vic] were so easy to relate to. It was great to have a chance to talk with them and the creators of the play after it was finished,” says Dunn.

For a full schedule of the remaining performance times and locations, go to

Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected].

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