A deeply personal, one-on-one experience brings the Human Library project into the digital space, where participants can ‘check out’ a human for a candid conversation about their life experiences, culture and beliefs. The project includes such titles as Perspective of a Mixed Man; Indigi-Queer Identities, Two Spirit and Beyond; I am not a scammer, and more. Co-curated by Sam Chimes and Bunny (Daisy Joe), the online edition will feature an array of new and returning ‘Virtual Humans’—with a particular emphasis on representation from BIPOC individuals—available for 20-minute loans over the course of four weekends.
“This past year has been one of both intense isolation and frisson. There has been a severe lack of face-to-face interactions that are not fraught or functional,” says Virtual Humanity Producer Jordy Matheson. “Virtual Humanity creates a digital space that allows for a kind of open conversation and learning. The kind which can be difficult to come by in the intense and polarized online world. A great deal of division is created from people not engaging with each other and really listening. What makes this project so powerful— radical, even—is that we’re asked to face our differences straight on, literally. There is no turning a blind eye, no resting in apathy. It’s two people sharing something intimate as a means to incrementally change the world.”
Human Library began in 2000 in Copenhagen by a collective called ‘Stop the Violence’ and since then, the hugely popular “open source” project has popped up in more than 70 countries. The original Human Library project was ignited by a brutal hate crime perpetrated against a friend—and this act of healing for four people became a global movement. It was a commitment to end violence—one person at a time—by narrowing the ideological gaps that divide us.
Over the past eight years, Zee Zee’s edition of Human Library, has drawn a tremendous public response, creating lasting memories, relationships, and shifting people’s understanding of otherness and difference. This new digital version becomes an opportunity to welcome those outside of the Lower Mainland to participate as virtual humans and audience, and become part of the broader conversation on challenging prejudice.
In Virtual Humanity audience members will select a title from the collection of 20+ ‘Virtual Humans’—something that intrigues or confounds them. They will then proceed into a one-one-one digital conversation over Zoom with their Virtual Human, a person who will share their true personal story that is reflected in their title, over the course of 20 minutes.
As with Human Library, the project is designed to shatter preconceived notions about otherhood, to challenge our biases and misunderstandings and to put a human face to difference as a means to foster empathy. The breadth of individuals extends from Zee Zee Theatre’s core philosophy: everyone has a story worth sharing, if we simply take the time to sit down and listen to them.
Virtual Humanity, streams online from March 6th to 28th. Day Passes are now available at zeezeetheatre.ca. Reservations are $5 with a subsequent request to ‘Pay What It’s Worth’ after the show. The full roster of titles available each day for bookings will be announced the morning of through a secret portal at zeezeetheatre.ca.