‘Diss’ Guest Blogger: Lorraine James

Lorraine James is a Winnipeg-based actor, who has made appearances on stage and on screen. Lorraine is part of our cast for Diss, which is presently touring Winnipeg area high schools and community groups. Read on to find out more about Lorraine’s experiences on the set of Diss and what stands out most for her. You can also read more of Lorraine’s musings at her blog.


I’m privileged to be working with a young cast such as those in the play, “DISS”. I’m usually part of a hodgepodge of actors and this one is no exception. I scan all of them and wonder what my child would be like had I given birth twenty six years ago? Well, maybe just twenty. I have to remind myself that I’m the adult, but that doesn’t help when I have to romp around yet, doing a fake slap= loads of fun! All these young’uns come from all walks of life with their own experiences and I could learn from them. With the knowledge I’ve gleaned these forty-something years, I’m sure I’ll never know everything and anything about acting and the entertainment industry. I always look forward to projects like this when I wake up in the morning. If only it were a full-time job, I think to myself. That won’t happen in Winnipeg, but for the time being, I’m paying my dues here and there, wherever I can.

Anyway, while feeling like a chaperone among these kids, or youths, it brings out the teenager in me, although I’m referred to as old school, or as it’s spelled, ol’skool. That makes me feel older than I am, but I let it roll off my back and I continue to fake slap my fake son across the face.
To do such a play like gang violence, it’s something I’m not familiar with. All the gang movies, 1970’s blaxploitaion flicks and TV shows cannot prepare me for what kind of life I would have had had anyone approached me to be in their gang. I guess I’m not cool enough but I shouldn’t be insulted. I’m sure someday I’ll be in another play or maybe even a movie or TV show where I’m involved in a gang, as someone’s mom. Yes, in this play, I simply play a mom and she’s not very gangster. That word alone, “Gangster”, dredged up so many ideas and such misinformation that has bling-bling all over it. If you do your research, there’s no glamour to it at all. The sad thing is, many people are attracted to it, or get sucked into it because they want a sense of belonging. I’ve never had that all the time, being a loner most times, but I’ve never been sucked into any sort of gang life at all. That’s a good thing too, for I’d probably end up dead by now. I’m thinking that some of the other cast members might have had experiences with being approached, but I would only have to ask them to know that. Many of them are more aware of what gangs around out there. I never even thought gangs were in Winnipeg for the longest while, and even so, I wouldn’t recognize it until someone was arrested on TV, and even then I’d think it was an outtake from a made for TV movie. I’m that clueless about it. It’s almost a shame that it’s so hidden, but then again, I’d keep it on the down low to if I were involved.

In the past, I’ve participated in a show where we practiced interventions so that we’d be prepared. It’s always a crap-shoot with these things when dealing with audience members. Many of them have never set foot on a stage. Many have great intentions coming up, but then we wonder if they’ll solve the problem in the end? The goal is to brain-storm, to see what can be done, instead of being one of those people who sit around saying, “Well, why don’t they just blankety-blank?” Too often, people sit in the comfort of their living rooms or the bar and only talk the talk instead of walking the walk. What I’m hoping, what we’re all hoping, what the goal is to make people more active and less passive. So far, this is the most active we are being and we’d like to pass it along to the general public. We love it when teachers participate too. Most think it’s all for the students, but how are you going to set an example just standing in the back of the room?

What do I want to audience to get from this show? Well, to worry about my acting skills should be on the back burner, otherwise I won’t be doing my job. The point of this project is to make aware that there’s gang violence out there in the world, for the youths to be careful and to stay away from it. It’s one thing to watch a play then walk away from it to ponder it. It’s another to get up from your seat and portray your idea of what should be done in that situation. We allow the audience to participate in our play so that they can get an idea of what to do in a situation such as this. We’re not preaching to anyone. We feel like there’s a message that should be said and that our audience should hear it. We want to make a difference in the city, even if it’s just a few schools. Just a few can make a difference, even if you don’t think so. I figured that many will assume that such a play won’t be necessary, only because they don’t want to face something that’s around them. It’s so easy to turn your back on a problem that hasn’t happened to you yet. It’s that simple to say it’ll never happen to me, or to us, or that if it did happen, it can easily be solved. Well, if that’s the case then, well, come on and bring us into your school, be entertained for an hour, see what we’re all about and then decide for yourselves what we’re trying to do. Remember when you hear of a shooting, if it was gang related or not. Sometimes it is so blatant but other times it’s not so much.

The cast of Diss in rehearsal.

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s