Home Culture Arts & Entertainment Play recounts sexual crimes of serial killer Russell Williams

Play recounts sexual crimes of serial killer Russell Williams

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Adam Seelig is founder and artistic director of One Little Goat Theatre Company

Adam Seelig, the award-winning and critically acclaimed poet, playwright and stage director, is bringing S—-/W——-. The Staging of a Police Transcript to the Theatre Passe Muraille Backstage.

The play, which he directed, recounts the horrific crimes of sado-sexual serial killer Russell Williams. It features an all-female cast including Kim Nelson and Deborah Drakeford and drummer Lynette Gillis.

The S—–/W——- refers to Williams and Sgt. Jim Smyth, Williams’ interrogator.

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Smyth/Williams is a staging of a police transcript from 2010,” explains Seelig. It is the transcript from Smyth’s interview of Williams, then a colonel in the Armed Forces who ran Canada’s largest airbase out of Trenton, about 175 kilometres from Toronto. Half-way through, the interrogation turns into Williams’ confession of his crimes.

“Everything we say on stage comes out of that transcript. The two actors are speaking the text that comes out of the transcript. They are swapping the roles and voices of Smyth and Williams, and sometimes just reading the transcripts.  It is safe to say that it is a very unconventional staging. It is easy to follow because Smyth and Williams have their own distinct voices except when Smyth is deliberately mirroring Williams’ voice – in a way to validate what Williams is saying.”

Seelig uses drumbeats to represent blacked-out redacted portions of the 10- hour original interview. Only one-and-a half hours were ever made public.

The director felt it important to present this document with a feminine perspective. He feels that the two male voices at the centre of this text stand for a microcosm for the male voices that are at the centre of our society, especially when we think of the police force and the military – both patriarchal structures.  He feels using female actors upends that and gives the audience a different perspective.

“There is so much sensitivity around this subject,” says Seelig. “I think we are in an era now that is shocking to many of us, which to put it simply is women’s rights have been called into question. We look at what’s happened south of the border. We look at someone who arguably is the most powerful person in the world – who has bragged about sexual assault with impunity. So what I want audiences to take away is a larger, national conversation about women’s rights, about sexual assault and violence against women. It is something regrettably pertinent today and is something we must explore, discuss and understand in hope of continued progress.”

Seelig wants his audience to have the experience of bearing witness to a major problem of our time, and specifically in the case of this transcript to bear witness to one of the most upsetting and difficult events in our country’s history, rather than burying it. In a Jewish context, he says we know that in the wake of the Holocaust how counter-productive it was for Jews in those early years of the 1950s, not to talk about it.

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Seelig is the founder and artistic director of One Little Goat Theatre  Company. His plays include Ubu Mayor, Parts to Whole Like the First Time, Talking Masks, Antigone : Insurgency, and All Is Almost Still. n

S—-/W——-. The Staging of a Police Transcript runs March 3-12. For tickets,  visit www.onelittlegoat.org or call 416-504-7529.

Adam Seelig, the award-winning and critically acclaimed poet, playwright and stage director, is bringing S—-/W——-. The Staging of a Police Transcript to the Theatre Passe Muraille Backstage.

The play, which he directed, recounts the horrific crimes of sado-sexual serial killer Russell Williams. It  features an all-female cast including Kim Nelson and Deborah Drakeford and drummer Lynette Gillis.

The S—–/W——- refers to Williams and Sgt. Jim Smyth, Williams’ interrogator.

Smyth/Williams is a staging of a police transcript from 2010,” explains Seelig. It is the transcript from Smyth’s interview of Williams, then a colonel in the Armed Forces who ran Canada’s largest airbase out of Trenton, about 175 kilometres from Toronto. Half-way through, the interrogation turns into Williams’ confession of his crimes.

“Everything we say on stage comes out of that transcript. The two actors are speaking the text that comes out of the transcript. They are swapping the roles and voices of Smyth and Williams, and sometimes just reading the transcripts.  It is safe to say that it is a very unconventional staging. It is easy to follow because Smyth and Williams have their own distinct voices except when Smyth is deliberately mirroring Williams’ voice – in a way to validate what Williams is saying.”

Seelig uses drumbeats to represent blacked-out redacted portions of the 10- hour original interview. Only one-and-a half hours were ever made public.

The director felt it important to present this document with a feminine perspective. He feels that the two male voices at the centre of this text stand for a microcosm for the male voices that are at the centre of our society, especially when we think of the police force and the military – both patriarchal structures.  He feels using female actors upends that and gives the audience a different perspective.

“There is so much sensitivity around this subject,” says Seelig. “I think we are in an era now that is shocking to many of us, which to put it simply is women’s rights have been called into question. We look at what’s happened south of the border. We look at someone who arguably is the most powerful person in the world – who has bragged about sexual assault with impunity. So what I want audiences to take away is a larger, national conversation about women’s rights, about sexual assault and violence against women. It is something regrettably pertinent today and is something we must explore, discuss and understand in hope of continued progress.”

Seelig wants his audience to have the experience of bearing witness to a major problem of our time, and specifically in the case of this transcript to bear witness to one of the most upsetting and difficult events in our country’s history, rather than burying it. In a Jewish context, he says we know that in the wake of the Holocaust how counter-productive it was for Jews in those early years of the 1950s, not to talk about it.

Seelig is the founder and artistic director of One Little Goat Theatre  Company. His plays include Ubu Mayor, Parts to Whole Like the First Time, Talking Masks, Antigone : Insurgency, and All Is Almost Still. n

S—-/W——-. The Staging of a Police Transcript runs March 3-12. For tickets,  visit www.onelittlegoat.org or call 416-504-7529.