Consent conversations with young people take centre stage for the second year this winter. The Court Theatre is pleased to welcome YES YES YES – an award-winning touring show exploring sex, consent, and healthy relationships created by Eleanor Bishop and Karin McCracken - to the stage and to Canterbury youth audiences this winter.
Featuring a solo performance by McCracken, the show is designed to bring consent conversations (and barriers to them) into the spotlight. It was originally developed from an earlier play examining rape culture and consent called Jane Doe that Bishop created whilst in the United States, and which McCracken performed in New Zealand. With McCracken’s experience of teaching consent education in schools, the two created YES YES YES in 2019, specifically with a young teenage audience in mind.
YES YES YES shares the stories of two teen couples whose seemingly similar relationship experiences become widely divergent due to their understanding - or lack of - consent. “It stimulates and opens conversations amongst teens, and between them and the adults in their lives, at a time when these issues are actually arising for them” says Bishop.
YES YES YES was developed with advice from Rape Prevention Education and, to ensure its relevance to a teen audience, with input from year 13 students in Auckland. It has continued to draw on the experiences and thoughts of young people, weaving these into the show in the form of video, and fictionalised versions of real events which are read out by audience volunteers. Over its three touring seasons it has continued to update this input, ensuring its relevance and authenticity.
Touring the main centres of New Zealand, YES YES YES is performed in theatres to which schools and public audiences are invited because “theatres provide a safe and neutral environment for what can prove challenging topics” says Bishop.
Rather than discouraging the use of cell phones, as theatres usually do, YES YES YES incorporates these into the show as well. “We plan pauses in the performance and ask audience members to text in feedback using a web-based polling app, then the results are displayed in the projections. We enable young people to see what their peers are thinking, anonymously, and safely” McCracken adds, which is vital as their research with young people have shown that two of their biggest influences are their peers and the media they connect with.
Because of the topics YES YES YES deals with and the conversations it hopefully generates are not confined to the theatre space, performances of YES YES YES are supported by resources for health and drama teachers, as well as a pre-viewing document and full show video.
The praise for YES YES YES - from its teen audiences to parents and teachers, and beyond - has been widespread. “We get a range of reactions to the show” says McCracken. Familiarity is a main one, and for older audience members, “there’s a lot of gratitude that things are different now”.
“If you have teens or not, def recommend YES YES YES...Asking questions about consent … it knows itself & its audience so well. Powerful, helpful work.” - Kate Prior, Pantograph Punch
“My 14 year old son and I went – the show was a catalyst for conversations we’d never had. This is a really, really good show for anyone with teenagers and wannabe nearly teenagers.” – Parent