About Us

BIG IN GERMANY - Balls - Show Us Yours Series - Deathwatch - Fucking Stephen Harper - RAW - First Day Back

created and performed by Rob Salerno

Playing at The BOX Toronto's ONE MORE NIGHT FESTIVAL Sept 13 at 7:30pm

It's the first day back to school after 14-year-old Ollie killed himself in his bedroom following months of bullying about his love of figure skating and singing and the fact that he's gay. There's an eerie hush in the halls today as Ollie's friends, teachers, and tormenters gather to figure out who’s responsible and how to keep this from happening again.

FIRST DAY BACK is inspired by the recent spate of gay teen suicides that have been reported in the media. In particular, elements of the show were inspired by Jamie Hubley, who kept a blog of his depression and a YouTube diary of him singing Katy Perry and Lady Gaga songs, until he took his own life.

In FIRST DAY BACK, we enter a school on the day after a gay ninth grader, Ollie, killed himself following years of bullying and abuse. Salerno plays an art teacher who’s opened up his class for kids to come talk about their feelings, and eight students who have been impacted by the suicide, including Jeremy's best friend, his lab partner who's known him since elementary school, and his main tormentor, a football player whose horrific treatment of Jeremy is revealed as part of an ongoing cycle of bullying and abuse. Despite the bleak subject, the show aims to portray ways forward and hope for the future.

FIRST DAY BACK is Salerno’s first all-ages show following the success of his past hit plays FUCKING STEPHEN HARPER, BALLS, and BIG IN GERMANY, each of which tackled important social and political issues for adults only. Salerno has been called a “theatrical rabble-rouser” by The Globe and Mail’s Kelly Nestruck.

“So many people had told me that my plays could inspire young people, but that they were excluded by content warnings and restrictions,” Salerno says. “I really wanted to reach out to people of all ages to explore this problem.”

FIRST DAY BACK was workshopped at the Victoria and Vancouver Fringe Festivals in 2012, where it won massive critical acclaim:

“This thought-provoking one-person show about teen suicide is captivating and performed with such incredible authenticity; Salerno manages to embody the essence of modern teenagers with remarkable insight into their often terrifying world.” – Monday Magazine.

Salerno is on top of his game with this stirring and well-paced production...First Day Back is timely, topical and situated in the middle of a moment in time (and in a country) that really does have the opportunity to make sure things get better—and this clever, well-executed new play is a thoroughly enjoyable push in the right direction.” – Culture Vulture Victoria.

An interview with CBC On The Island host Khalil Akhtar about FIRST DAY BACK:

WHERE: The Box Toronto (89 Niagara St - Map)
WHEN: Sat Sept 13, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $10 at the door or online. Seating is limited. Advance purchase recommended.
FESTIVAL INFORMATION: http://www.theboxtoronto.com/festival.html

MEDIA: Contact Rob Salerno for all interview requests at rob@tenfootpole.ca. Click on photos to the right for high-resolution, uncropped versions. All photos by Andrew Phoenix.