She was abandoned as a baby. Years later, her story inspired a performance
WARNING: This article contains details of abuse.
Judite Vold fought back her bubbling emotions as she recalled the story of her childhood.
Born in Haiti, she was put in an orphanage at just one year old.
“I was abused physically, sexually and mentally,” she said. “Until the age of eight.”
Seven years later, a family from rural Alberta adopted her and brought her home to Canada, where the rest of her story began.
“When I was adopted, it was a good home where it was full of loving family members,” Vold said. “It turned into a good story, even though it didn’t start as that.”
She’s 23 now and has been removed from the orphanage for 15 years. But the memories, she says, still trigger her to this day.
“It’s sometimes hard to, in the middle of the day, stop everything I’m doing to have a giant meltdown,” she said.
Often, Vold says, she’ll mask the emotions left by that trauma. These days, she’s fighting through them instead.
Her story of struggle and hope inspired a performance told through music, poetry, and dance at the Rosebud School of the Arts in southern Alberta.
Vold acts out her own early life in Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, with her friends and classmates alongside her.
Most of the cast perform from behind a mask, a metaphor used to show how Vold sometimes bottles up her emotions to protect herself and her loved ones from the reality she faced.
“Seeing the beauty in it was really exciting,” Vold said, highlighting the original choreography her castmates contributed to the show.
“Having them support me in that instance and sharing themselves through my story, even though it is my story that we’re sharing.”
Life on stage
Sharing the stage with Vold has been a touching experience for Shelly-Ann Morgan.
“Imagine holding your child and then having to let it go, that is a very wrenching thing,” she said. “And also the shock and the anger and the pain of watching some of the things that Judite had experienced.”
Morgan plays Vold’s birth mother during the performance, but their connection goes beyond the stage. Her and Vold were roommates when now-alumna Morgan was also studying at the school.
“We are finding ways to tell that story and thinking about how difficult it must be for this person to be telling that story,” Morgan said.
“So [I’m] definitely doing my level best to support that person on that journey.”
Throughout the creation of the show, Morgan says it’s been easy to tell that this experience is difficult for Vold, who narrated her own journey through poetry.
During the performance, an emotional dance depicts Vold fighting the abuse she’s faced and endured.
But the show ends with her being at peace with herself, and much happier.
A message of hope and understanding
In addition to the story itself, there’s importance in the production’s timing.
Morgan says there’s significant value in telling this story during Black History Month.
For her, telling the same stories repetitively each February can be a disservice to its purpose.
“With Black History Month, we look back on the same stories over and over — it is the history of slavery in America most prevalently,” Morgan said.
“But finding opportunities to tell stories like this, you know, a person of two cultures and their experience, I think is very important,” Morgan said.
Vold knows that her story might not be easy for people to watch.
But eventually, she found her own happy ending, and hopes the audience understands her message of hope crafted into the performance’s storyline.
“It’s a story that I hope will bring people together, and I hope will show them that, there’s love.”
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