On hearing news of the change to the controversial covenant at Trinity Western University, Ren Lunicke has decided to add performances of the original production of “Blood Relative” to the current tour specifically for the Trinity Western University student and staff audience in nearby Aldergrove.
“My hope is that it will provide some meaningful discussion about how to navigate our value differences in a way that supports us and helps us to feel belonging for both young and old in these changing times,” said Lunicke, who graduated from TWU 12 years ago.
Lunicke of Zir Productions exposes the ongoing dogma about biological kinship and responsibility in the new play “Blood Relative”.
In collaboration with a LGBTQI supportive organization called “OneTWU”, Blood Relative could not be timelier in addressing conflict at the heart of recent political upheaval at TWU, says Lunicke. Last Monday, TWU removed its requirement for students and staff to sign the “covenant,” requiring all students and staff to abstain from homosexual behaviour, among other things. This policy was the crux of the recent Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to deny the institution’s application to start a school of law.
In “Blood Relative” Lunicke narrates scenes from life as “Michelle,” a newly married lesbian caught between the secular ideals of a diversity-loving “chosen family,” the evangelical Christian assertion of a superior nuclear family, and an ongoing longing to belong as part of the family legacy. This is the same ideological conflict on campus today that catches students and alumni and some staff in a values cross-fire.
At the top of the story, Michelle is evaluating the possibility for future children when she receives the call from her mother that her loving and affirming grandmother is dying. Between care-taking the last of Michelle’s accepting biological family and discovering her limitations in adding more family-members to the fold, Michelle must decide what re-definition of family she can depend upon to ensure belonging and connection.
Lunicke says, “Blood Relative is an autobiographical solo play that weaves together a few time-lines. The main plot is the 10 days when I was newly married in a same-sex relationship despite parental disapproval, and my 100-year-old grandmother, whom I loved, began a rapid decline. I was part of her care team and was forced to think about who I was in the family without her, what family even meant to me, and what power I had to create family for myself. At the same time, I was realizing I likely had endometriosis (a pain disease causing infertility) and would be unlikely to bear my own children as a means of filling the void for family love and belonging.”
Lunicke adds, “Blood Relative is about legacy and belonging, but mainly love within families where the beliefs and expectations are so divergent. We are all stuck with biological family, but what really bonds us to people is our capacity and willingness to love and be loved by one another for who we really are as individuals. Sometimes a family role can actually get in the way of that. Sometimes having a family role in someone’s life is the only way we would learn from people who are different from us. These days, communicating over that difference seems more difficult than ever. I wanted to show a story (mine) where communication amongst difference came as a successful result of meaningfully re-defining the boundaries of family.”
Ren looks back with humour and wit to lament and remember the individual power we all have to ensure that “family will always be there” despite all obstacles.
Shows take place at the Aldergrove-based and LGBTQI-affirming Anglican church Parish of St. Dunstan Aldergrove. St. Dunstan’s Pastor David Taylor, who recently adopted a child with his same-sex partner, was the first pastor to perform a same-sex wedding for TWU students.
Tickets have been subsidized by the performer to be affordable for Trinity Western students and staff. There will be post-show discussions after each show about the intersection of faith, sexuality/gender, and belonging with special reference to building bridges between “value differences” and the inter-generational divide.
Dates and times of performances at Parish of St. Dunstan’s, Aldergrove are Monday to Wednesday, September 10-12, at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $5 for students of TWU, $10 for seniors, and staff of TWU and $15 for others, sold at the door only.
Warning: for ages 12 and up, recommended for dramatic intensity.
One TWU is the network for LGBTQ+ staff, students and alumni of Trinity Western University, as well as allies to such persons. One TWU commits to advocating for current and future LGBTQ+ students to ensure equal and non-discriminatory treatment.
Zir Productions developed out of “Ze,” as a live performance production company committed to creating connection “beyond all binaries,” including “old” and “young.”
This production is part of a much larger “Belonging Tour” that began at Victoria Fringe 2018 and ends in Hawaii. For more details see www.zirproductions.com