When we began designing the materials for The Ghomeshi Effect, purple seemed like the natural fit, because of its associations with the queer community and being Jessica Ruano’s favourite colour – but also the show, the idea, felt purple. A year on, purple has shaped the way we think about the whole show, from advertising, to choreography, costumes and lighting design. So, we did a little digging to understand the history and meaning of purple and were surprised to find how much of it resonated with our show.
- Purple is associated with creativity, imagination, dignity and royalty. As artists, purple’s ties to creativity are important to us, but the connections to dignity and power structures (for a period the Romans decreed only the Emperor could wear purple) are important because as we share people’s experience with the justice we are hoping to take back the power survivor’s and some lawyers have lost to the system. Purple blends our artistic instincts with our activism.
- On that note, purple has been the colour many social movements including women’s suffrage, feminism and LGBTQIIA+ activists. Locally, purple is the colour of Shine the Light, an Ontario based initiative to raise awareness about intimate partner abuse. Like these movements, we are driven by the desire to create change and give voices to those on the margins. Through our interviews we have come to believe in promoting other means through which survivors can seek justice.
- Purple blends the fiery passion of red and the calming effect of blue; it is seen as depicting good judgement and balance. The Ghomeshi Effect is at once a battle cry against sexual violence and the justice system, as well as a space for openness and discussion, blending these meanings of purple perfectly. It is said Leonardo da Vinci thought purple light could improve thought in mediation; we hope the purple light of our show brings clarity to audiences.
- In many cultures purple symbolises death and new beginnings; in Christianity purple marks Easter and Jesus rising from the dead; in Thailand it is the colour of mourning and in Greek Orthodox it is the colour worn after mourning; in India it sometimes symbolises reincarnation. In the ritualistic sense, theatre is a liminal space where we step outside of society and emerge changed. In The Ghomeshi Effect we are providing a place for survivors’ stories to be told and heard. It is a space for audiences to experience these stories and to emerge from with a new understanding of sexual assault and the justice system.
- Purple has been the colour of rebellious people. From Sappho to Cleopatra, the whore of Babylon to Jezebel, the women in The Color Purple to Prince, purple has been worn and owned by controversial people who stand out and apart from the status quo. Not only have these people impacted our lives as artists and members of society but they have shaped how the world sees the colour.
Celie: You saying God is vain?
Shug: No, not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off when you walk by the colour purple in a field and don’t notice it.
Celie: You saying it just wanna be loved like it say in the bible?
Shug: Yeah, Celie. Everything wanna be loved. Us sing and dance, and holla just wanting to be loved. Look at them trees. Notice how the trees do everything people do to get attention… except walk?
(The Color Purple by Alice Walker)
Like the purple flower in the field, we cannot walk by and let the injustice we have seen in recent sexual assault trials go unnoticed. We cannot let survivors go unnoticed. We cannot let these stories go unheard. By embracing these historical and cultural contexts of the colour purple, our text and choreography draws its strength.
Tickets for The Ghomeshi Effect are now on sale, and discounts of 15% are offered for group bookings of 10 or more. Recognising that finances are a barrier for some, 20 free tickets are on offer each night for those who cannot afford them. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.