To first read the Montreal Gazette article click the link below:
The following e-mails were exchanged by Micheline Chevrier, Artistic Director of Imago & Director of PIG GIRL, and Jim Burke, writer at the Montreal Gazette, in response to the above article. We are sharing the messages with their permissions because we felt that their emails lend an added context to the article, as well as highlighting the challenging and complex discussion around the themes of PIG GIRL.
January 22, 2016
Just read your article in the Gazette. Thank you for such a thorough, well-written article.
I have to say that I am disappointed that you felt you had to ‘warn’ people about it being an “impossible” play to sit through, and this several times throughout the article. Not sure this will help our cause to open up the doors to a strong conversation. My staging deals, I believe, with this and I think most people will be moved rather that shocked and disturbed to the point of walking out. Some will certainly, but others I think would be fine, and understand its objectives.
I certainly hope you have not discouraged too many from at least giving it a chance.
And our ticket strategy is actually called ‘Pay-What-You-Decide’ and not ‘Think’, and it is meant to increase accessibility, not to allow for people to leave after 10 minutes if they can’t stomach it.
Anyway, you will see it and then I guess your review will either confirm your worst fears or pleasantly surprise you.
Jan 23, 2016
Thanks for your thoughts on the article. It probably won’t surprise you to read that I don’t quite agree with your take on it – though I do understand your concerns about its effect on potential audiences.
I aimed to balance the article between the “difficult” and “positive” aspects of the play. Yes, I raise the very real possibility that it will be too much for some people, as both you and Colleen acknowledged, and as some reactions in Edmonton proved. But the headline, and the quotes about the strength and defiance of the Dying Woman, speak of how Colleen has found something affirmative in this horrible situation. I also wrote at length on how the staging will avoid gratuitous/realistic violence.
I certainly didn’t suggest it’s an “impossible” play. What I wrote was that it would be “impossible to sit insouciantly through Pig Girl”. Given the subject matter, and the sustained horror of the situation, I can’t think of any audience members calmly sitting through it: not the same thing as saying audience members will find it impossible to sit through at all.
I noted that it’s pay-what-you-decide in the time/prices section. I don’t really see the problem of writing, in the body of the piece, pay-what-you-think: a distinction without a difference, surely. But I take your point about it being to widen the accessibility: it might have been better for me to simply note that audience members who walk out early won’t be out of pocket, rather than speculating that might have been a factor in the policy.
At the end of the day, I applaud Imago for putting on this really challenging play, and I too hope the article doesn’t discourage people from going. But, even if it did, I’d say it’s my job to write about the play as accurately as I can, hopefully raising interest in it, but not to write a puff piece that glosses over the play’s content. When I read the play, I felt pretty numb with horror throughout, and I tried to reflect that honestly in the article. The question of how grueling audiences would find it was a strong consideration in thinking about the play and the production. I think I’d be remiss in not addressing that in the piece.
Hopefully there will be enough people out there who realise that facing up to unspeakable realities is pretty much a civic and cultural duty, and that the reward of that can be experiencing a really gripping drama. I look forward to seeing Pig Girl, and please rest assured I’ll be coming along with a completely open mind.