“I didn’t pursue charges, and I did it to survive.” Interview #10
(Ottawa, January 10, 2017) The Ghomeshi Effect, a verbatim dance-theatre production that presents personal accounts of sexual assault survivors and the lawyers who handle their cases, opens Thursday, January 19 at The Gladstone Theatre. Throughout the show’s run, guest speakers – including Glen Canning, father of Rehtaeh Parsons – will take part in TGE Dialogues, a series of panel events about sexual assault, rape culture, PTSD, and the legal system. Created and directed by Jessica Ruano (Sappho …in 9 fragments) and choreographed by Amelia Griffin (Propeller Dance, Tara Luz Danse), the premiere of The Ghomeshi Effect runs January 19 to 28 at The Gladstone and February 2 at the Shenkman Arts Centre.
The Ghomeshi Effect’s script uses transcriptions of interviews Ruano conducted with local Ottawa residents about their lived experiences in dealing with sexual violence and the justice system. The interviews range from confessional first-person accounts to expert analyses of how the law is constructed to handle these cases.
“Through this process we found that many people have become disillusioned by the court system and do not always see it as the best means for seeking justice,” says Ruano. “In this play we explore why this is and discuss potential alternatives.”
Bringing these stories to life is a broad group of multidisciplinary and bilingual performers: Leah Archambault, Marc-André Charette, Gabrielle Lalonde, Annie Lefebvre, Emmanuel Simon, and Mekdes Teshome. Setting the scene are lighting designer Benoît Brunet-Poirier, sound designer Martin Dawagne, and Métis mixed-media artist Mique Michelle, who will be creating a graffiti-inspired floor design for the stage.
“Ever since we began this project we have known that this conversation was bigger than us,” says Griffin. “Whenever we talk to people about the play, there’s always someone who has a story to share or an opinion to contribute. This performance is about our community and we made a point of including a diverse group of individuals and stories in the script, and opening up the conversation to our audiences.”
TGE Dialogues, presented in partnership with anti-violence community organizations, will feature daily events to raise awareness about the services available to survivors in Ottawa. The first night of TGE Dialogues, January 20, will feature a keynote address by Glen Canning who, since the death of his daughter Rehtaeh in 2013, has been an outspoken activist against rape culture and the way society treats survivors. Canning will talk about youth, consent and the way mixed messages about definitions of rape affected Rehtaeh’s case.
“Beginning these conversations with our kids when they are teenagers is essential,” says Canning, “because in so many cases we are willing to believe anything about women in order to excuse anything about a man.”
Following the evening’s performance, Canning will take part in a talkback with MANifest Change, a program to engage men in the prevention of violence run by the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW).
THE PEPTIDES: FUNDRAISER
On Sunday, January 22, the team behind The Ghomeshi Effect will host a unique concert fundraiser in which members of the cast share the stage with local pop-band The PepTides.
“It has always been part of our mandate as a band and members of the community to promote equality and human rights. The stories in the script hit close to home and there was no doubt that we wanted to be part of this important conversation,” says band member Scottie Irving.
About The Ghomeshi Effect
The Ghomeshi Effect is verbatim dance-theatre performance that uses real interviews to look at sexual assault and the justice system. More than a production, it is a grassroots initiative by Perspective Collective Theatre (PCTheatre) to unite existing social justice organizations and find creative ways to end gender-based violence and discrimination through performance and outreach.
PCTheatre believes in art as a vehicle for change and has already taken steps to continue this important conversation around sexual violence and the justice system, such as workshopping the show material in Ottawa high schools.
To request an interview or to learn more about the performance and the panel events, contact Marketing Manager Nina Jane Drystek at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613-552-2975.
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