Two directors from St. Thomas University are ready to take their performances to the next stage after a work-in-progress showing, a play shown in front of an audience for feedback, on Nov. 1.
Lisa Anne Ross said her play, PIG, was well-received at Theatre New Brunswick’s Open Space Theatre. This was the first time PIG was performed in front of an audience.
“That was [PIG’s] little baby entry into the world,” said Ross, a theatre professor at STU and artistic producer for the theatre company Solo Chicken Productions.
Ross worked with visual artist Danielle Hogan to create the play. PIG is a visual performance that focuses on why women are still subjected to sexism.
Ross came up with the idea after the 2016 United States election.
“I was, like everyone, confused and sad and also confused about people’s strong reactions not to Hillary [Clinton’s] politics but to her femininity – to her being a woman,” Ross said.
“People were not taking issue with her politics, they were taking direct aim at her womanhood.”
Although Ross is still looking for more feedback on PIG, she said she’s excited to work with artists across the country to add on her play.
The other play performed on Nov. 1, Fruit Machine, is set to get a full production in 2019.
Fruit Machine is a play created by two STU grads, Alex Rioux and Samuel Crowell, that focuses on how the RCMP targeted the LGBTQ community 60 years ago.
Rioux was inspired to write the play after hearing about the Canadian government’s 2017 apology for the LGBTQ military purge in the 1960s.
“I wanted to keep learning about it and I was doing a little bit of research on my own, just for curiosity sake, and then Lisa [Anne Ross] later on approached myself and Samuel Crowell, who performed in the piece, about doing a piece for the Coop core ourselves and leading it,” said Rioux, who graduated from STU with a major in English and a concentration in drama in 2016.
“I really want audiences to stop and think about these secret mysteries in Canada that we’re not often exposed to and are very oblivious to, to get curious and to start exploring these things themselves,” Rioux said.
Fruit Machine has now been performed in front of an audience four times. It was shown as a work in progress at the Perspective Showcase hosted by Connection Dance Works twice and was used as an opening piece for the play A Record of Us.
“This version deals a lot more with characters and stories and zooming in on people,” Rioux said. “The first version was maybe a ten minute long piece that sort of vaguely covered some themes and perspectives on things that were happening during the purge.”
Rioux is happy the play will be getting a full production.
“We have a lot of material now to pull from and it’s just about really refining it and finding those core movements in each of the pieces and adding more character, more storyline,” Rioux said.
Ross said they plan to apply for grant funding to help move the productions forward.
“For both pieces, we felt like the work we did was strong and valid and we should continue with the work.”