Theatre kids are often stereotyped as being “those loud Broadway lovers that sing in public.” At the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), you can spot groups of drama students in the depths of Deerfield Hall—on the mint-coloured sofas near their rehearsal rooms. Through the plays they perform, write, direct, and produce, U of T’s thespians are some of the most influential students on all three campuses. Their works spark discussions on critical social and personal issues, and they inspire other creatives. Theatre kids create legacies, one show at a time.
Currently in his third year at the University of Toronto, Valentine Leger is a student-writer and director majoring in drama studies. His newest play, Support Groups for the Queer Daughters of the Cluster Pucks, was recently showcased as a staged reading through the UTM English and Drama Student Society (EDSS). In an interview with The Medium, Leger discussed his personal experiences that influenced the play’s structure.
“I came out as transgender about two years ago and I really needed an outlet [to express myself]. I started writing plays [and] I found that it was so cathartic and a great way to talk about things without actually having to talk about them,” said Leger.
The story in Support Groups for the Queer Daughters of the Cluster Pucks stemmed from a conversation that Leger had with his dad about queer identity. Through his dad’s insights, Leger felt inspired to transform his newfound knowledge—along with his own struggles as a queer individual—into a unique piece of writing.
“I assumed that [my dad] has never had to engage with something like [understanding queer issues]. [But he told me about] these men on his beer league, [and how] all of them happen to have gay kids. [He said that] sometimes after games, when they drank beer, they would talk about it,” Leger stated.
Flipping the storyline, Leger wrote his play from the perspectives of the kids. Each actor became “a manifestation” of someone that Leger had once met “as a queer teen in sports.” The play was staged as a conversation that took place in the lobby of a hockey arena. Four actors sat in a semi-circle and read from a script, speaking about hockey culture, their experiences as queer individuals in a suburban town, and the complexities of father-child relationships.
Further speaking about his identity, Leger stressed that while many of his works are based on his life, he aims for his plays to be relatable to others in the queer community.
“As a transgender person living in North America, [it often feels like] your identity [is] being put under a magnifying glass,” Leger expressed. “I think that it’s easy to write about these scenarios that I’ve been put in and sort of blow them up.”
As he wrote the play, Leger realized how under-represented trans people are in the world of theatre. With an intent to address this lack of representation in today’s staged shows, Leger hopes to continue writing works based on queer stories.
“Something so nice about young queer people and emerging artists is that they [use] the phrase ‘if you can’t find yourself in something, create it [yourself].’ I’m starting to see all of these amazing plays and it’s cool to see us creating our own representation,” Leger said.
Support Groups for the Queer Daughters of the Cluster Pucks was a part of the UTM EDSS’ “New Play Development Program,” mentored this year by playwright and actor Madeline Brown. As Leger continues to structure the play, he aims to keep it in production. To find out more about the play, and to keep up with the UTM EDSS, be sure to follow them on Instagram @utmedss.
Arts & Entertainment Editor (Volume 49) | firstname.lastname@example.org — Julia graduated in 2022 with a major in English, and a Professional Writing and Communications and Drama double minor. She previously worked with The Medium as Theatre Erindale Correspondent for Volume 48. As the A&E Editor this year, Julia cannot wait to explore the wondrous world of arts and spark creative conversations amongst student writers. If she’s not writing, working, or spending too much money on overpriced iced coffees, you can find Julia singing tunes with her guitar, bingeing Netflix shows, or going on nature walks with her doggo Benji. You can connect with Julia on LinkedIn or Instagram.