“Am I damned to disappear into our society, only to have nothing to show for it? Am I being engineered to be a middle class zombie doing the same dribble, day in, day out?”
When 15-year-old Martin Dy spoke those words into the microphone, he was alone on stage, lit by a single spotlight against a white screen, in front of dozens of people and three official judges.
“I have finally learned…that I have been molded into something, something nobody could ever replicate. All it takes is someone to find each person’s individual identity.”
His monologue was one of 12 performances that made up the third audition for Richmond Multicultural Community Services’ second annual Diversity Talent Show Wednesday evening.
Out of 21 auditions in total, judges Jon Lee-Son, Tricia Romani and Deirdra Kiai chose 10 finalists, one of which was Martin, for the show’s finale next Thursday, Feb. 28 at Gateway Theatre.
“Ever since I was little, I was afraid I didn’t have much purpose in society because there’s so many people, I felt society could run without me,” said the MacNeill secondary Grade 10 student.
“So I wrote this monologue about individuality and my discovery of individuality.”
The talent show was created two years ago as a way to engage Richmond youth and give them the opportunity to perform, while also encouraging them to celebrate their diversity.
“Over 50 per cent of Richmond is comprised of immigrants, so we wanted to create a platform for all to have a voice,” said organizer Stefanie Johnston. “It’s up to the youth to interpret what diversity means to them.”
The room behind the theatre in the Richmond Cultural Centre buzzed, as dozens of performers, aged 13 to 24, filed through the doors to practice, support each other and hang out.
Each one who left would be wished good luck before passing through the adjoining theatre doors. Each one to return came back armed with advice, such as, telling fellow performers to “make sure you test the mic before starting.”
“They’re pretty excited at the auditions, there’s high energy,” said Johnston. “They get to meet other youth from different high schools and colleges, so it’s a great way for them to meet people they might not have met otherwise.”
Performances ranged from dance, song and spoken word. Some even mixed mediums such as 18-year-old Emily May’s cover of Young the Giant’s “Cough Syrup”, where she added some dance steps and broke out into a monologue during the musical interlude.
“You’re doing something, trying to send a message, and to have it heard and understood, is a really great feeling,” she said of being chosen as one of the finalists.
“Anti-diversity is where a lot of bullying stems from, and these are things I just can’t tolerate. We should be positive, it’s a celebration.”
While most of the performers kept their sets simple, wearing regular clothes, some wore the traditional garb of a culture.
Finalist, Sudnya Dance Academy marched methodically to the stage in full costume. Before breaking into traditional Indian dance, the trio explained a few moves.
“We put a lot of work into this performance,” said Anushka Nair, 15, from Steveston-London. “So I’m glad people understood it, and we could come out here to showcase diversity.”
“It has been really amazing,” said fellow group member Ashleigh Nazareth, in Grade 10 at MacNeill. “No two fingers on one hand are alike, so it’s great people can come together and celebrate differences. Life would be boring if we were all the same.”
Sabrina Oh, Bianca Go, Angelica Poversky, Angela McIlroy-Wagar, iHeart, Temporary Band and Beini Yin make up the other seven finalists.
All 10 will be judged by Lee-Son, Romani, Stephanie Sy and Perry Ehrlich for the top spot at next Thursday’s show, where the audience will be invited to vote as well.
Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, and $7 for adults, and can be purchased at RMCS and Gateway Theatre in advance, or at the door.