The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) is presenting The Ghomeshi Effect, a documentary dance-theatre performance that offers a nuanced exploration of how the legal system handles sexual assault cases in Canada.
Written and directed by Jessica Ruano and choreographed by Amelia Griffin, the performance will run Nov. 9th at the Red Deer Memorial Centre.
“The two of us made the show both with words and movement, so my initial contribution was that I came up with the idea to put on a show about how the legal system handles sexual assault cases, that was partially inspired by the (Jian) Ghomeshi trial,” said Ruano.
Ruano said the Ghomeshi trial was an interesting example of cases where there’s very little that is known about what actually happened and it’s all about the credibility of the witnesses.
“I think a lot of people learned a lot from that particular trial and there was a lot of information happening in the media and the news, so it was just being talked about in this unprecedented way. I found that was very interesting and wanted to find a way to reflect that in a show.”
Ruano started the process doing interviews with people to find out more and educate herself.
“I was made familiar with a style of theatre called ‘documentary theatre,’ where you actually use the exact words of the people you interview to create a script.”
She ended up interviewing 40 different people and recorded them, transcribed them and took pieces from them to put it into a play text.
“Every word that you hear in the show actually comes from things people have said to me. It’s an interesting way of doing theatre because you get these real life stories,” she said.
Griffin did something similar, but she sourced movement from people.
“She would go and talk to people about sexual violence and the legal system,” said Ruano.
From there, they created a language of movement and used those to accentuate what was being said in the script.
“There are six actors and they speak the text and they’re doing movement at the same time, so you see different forms of communication.”
The cast consists of actors, dancers and performers of all types, with a variety of backgrounds.
They held their first performance in Ottawa in 2017, but decided to tour it across parts of Canada.
At the end of each show, the cast does talk backs, as they find it’s really important to hear what folks have to say after the show.
“We felt that having talk backs was really an essential part of the show and then people can ask us questions and share their stories. We have people from the community up on stage with us.”
For Red Deer’s show, they will have people from CASASC sharing their expertise with the audience for questions.
The performance beings at 7:30 p.m. at the Red Deer Memorial Centre and are $5 in person.