In the midst of 1999 Carnival celebrations in Aalst, Belgium, a husband and wife murdered their two children in a hotel room.
That deed and the trial that followed inspire Aalst: A True Story, presented by Belgian theatre troupe Victoria as part of Harbourfront Centre's New World Stage. But for director Pol Hayvaert, the justice and social systems are as much on trial as the couple. The show, a blend of fact and fiction he calls "faction theatre," includes transcripts, material from a TV documentary and new text by Dimitri Verhulst.
"You don't have to know these people's story to understand the show," says the director from Glasgow, where he's mounting a new Scottish version of the piece. "This is a play about those who come from a difficult social background, one recognized everywhere in the Western world.
"They are dropouts, people who don't fit in. The husband grew up in institutions and had a long criminal record by the time he was 17, and she had a difficult childhood as well. The two of them were a bad match, but no one recognized that until they were in the headlines."
What Hayvaert and company want to look at, in part, is the way society changed its view of the pair.
"I don't have sympathy for the act, but it's important to realize that a week before it these two were unimportant losers in society, not killers. That's when I sympathize with them, that they didn't have the same chances that many others do. And I try to understand a little what it's like to be outside of society, and that the trial doesn't take into account what shaped their lives."
The director mentions that a week before Aalst opened in 2005, the wife tried to prevent the company from performing the show. Apparently, she didn't want to be part of a media circus again.
"Ironically, going to court to stop the play gave her more publicity than any production in Belgium would have. It was a strange contradiction, a sad story."
There's no more entertaining way to celebrate International Women's Day than with The Five-Minute Feminist Cabaret (FemCab), Nightwood Theatre's 27th annual irreverent celebration of women's art and politics, running tonight (Thursday, March 8).
This year's keynote speaker is award-winning journalist Carol Off, and guests include dancer Peggy Baker, comedian Joanne O'Sullivan, fado performer Catarina Cardeal, hip-hop rapper Masia One, singer/actor Tamara Podemski, actor Sonja Smits and singer/dub poet Motion.Hosts are a few more funny gals, Teresa Pavlinek and Dawn Whitwell, with Afro-Brazilian musician Guiomar Campbell and her ensemble as the house band.
See One-Nighters, theatre listings page.
Remember a few weeks ago we mentioned that Trey Anthony's 'Da Kink In My Hair, which played last year in Hollywood, California, had been nominated for five awards as part of that city's annual NAACP Awards?
The show picked up four of them, among them awards for anthony's script, ensemble cast, sound and direction.
You go, girl!