Tracey Scott, Chris Bossley, Kat Wahamaa are all part of the Low Barrier Chorus, and they performed at the open stage evening. (Photo courtesy Christina Waschko)

‘Open Stage’ nights give platform to those affected by opioid crisis

Artist-in-residence Kat Wahamaa wants to showcase talent of people with “lived experience.”

Kat Wahamaa has a personal connection to the fentanyl crisis – her son passed away from an overdose in 2016.

As an artist and activist all her life, Wahamaa, who is also Maple Ridge’s artist-in-residence, has created a series of “Open Stage,” low barrier performance nights as a way to gather talent and engage the community prior to a theatre production she has planned for the spring that touches on issues related to the current opioid crisis.

Wahamaa said the theatre show will be a showcase of talent from people who have “lived experience” with the opioid epidemic.

“It will feature the resilience and creativity of people going through traumatic experiences. But that’s the human spirit–we transcend. There’s incredible resilience in people.”

She hopes to gather talented people who are or have been affected by the opioid crisis, who will also be interesting in being part of the theatre production that is underway.

The shows are hosted at the The Humans of Maple Ridge Gallery.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase creativity, talent, resiliency, make connections. It’s harm reduction through the arts, and we all need to be connected,” added Wahamaa.

People who are not interested in performing, but want to be involved in the play building process are also encouraged to attend, as are community members who wish to be part of the audience.

“Anyone can be an audience member. The Humans of Maple Ridge Gallery is a place to build compassion and reduce stigma,” added Wahamaa.

At the open stage nights, performers get the chance to show off their skills in spoken word, poetry, stand up, original songs, stories, covers and more.

“It’s another way of connecting with a much wider audience. When it comes down to it, we are all more alike than we are different and it bridges those divides,” said Wahamaa.

The first open stage night was on Dec. 18, and the events will continue throughout January, every Tuesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Humans of Maple Ridge Gallery located at 11979 – 224th St.

• For more information, or to sign-up, contact Kat at kat@shinyb.ca.

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