written and directed by Marion de Vries, with Michelle Latimer. Presented by left hand productions at the Factory Mainspace. August 8 at 6 pm, August 10 at 9 pm, August 12 at 10:30 pm, August 15 at 9:30 pm, August 16 at 8 pm, August 17 at 3:30 pm. Rating: NNNNN
How big a loser can you be? in Marion de Vries 's solo show, idiot, 16-year-old Virginia arrives at school intending to commit suicide and finds that a classmate has stolen her thunder. De Vries has discovered that her troubled teen, a fictional creation with touches of the playwright's own experiences, strikes a chord in lots of people, young and old.
When the show toured Montreal schools, the emotional response was tremendous, marked by screaming and fighting among the teen viewers.
"The audience yelled back to actor Michelle Latimer , saw her as a real person instead of a character," recalls de Vries. "It's the first time many of these kids heard a play that spoke their language rather than talking down to them."
Adults who see the piece also have memories of a Virginia type, a "bad girl" who has more back story than most people realize.
De Vries's first crack at the play, which began as a commission dealing with date rape, was a three-hander that she acknowledges "was really awful." Then she revised it as a solo show.
"The experience was magical but really intense for me as a writer. The character simply inhabited me, and I honestly didn't know from one sentence to the next what was going to happen.
"It's a wild feeling when a voice inhabits you and you just write it down."
Idiot is the middle section of a trilogy of monologues - its outside segments are called big face and mercedes - in which the female character is rooted in the landscape she inhabits. In idiot, Virginia tells her story from a theatre stage and reveals some important events that happened by a country lake.
"Teens are really articulate, but Virginia has a huge well of emotion to which she's initially not connected," notes de Vries, who recently became general manager at Picton's Regent Theatre.
"She finds that the lake, its water a feminine element, mirrors her spiritual landscape. It's the place where she rediscovers her innocence, her true self, and that she has choices in her life."