I chose Québecois playwright Geneviève Billette’s wonderful neo-expressionist play Crime Against Humanity(Crime contre l’humanité)for my style project while taking my Master of Fine Arts degree in directing at the University of Alberta in 2006.
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CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
by Genevieve Billette
translated by Bobby Theodore
The Industrialist: Clinton Carew*
Madame: Melissa Thingelstad
Kalr: Mat Busby
Charotte: Molly Flood
Hans: Mark Jenkins*
*appearing courtesy of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
Set Design: Maya Jarvis
Costume Design: Sheena Haug
Lighting Design: Shauna Breslawski
Sound Design: Sam Mcleod
Jen Bailey, Genevieve Billette, Reneltta Bourque, Stefan Dzeparoski, Brett Henry, Josiah Hiemstra, Heather Kitz, Arndt Kuethe, Chris Kuethe, Kerry Johnson, Jeff Matawabin Legacy (Cree Translation), Sarah Moroz, Avia Moore, Nicky Renault, Michelle Warren, Anna Wood, Lucy-Ann Yakelya (Slavey Translation), All the International Students who helped us translate the title of the play for the opening prologue.
** Double special thanks and apologies to anyone we missed.
When I read this play in 2001, Ontario was in the midst of Conservative Premier Mike Harris’ Common Sense Revolution, and I recognized that world in its strange, playful metaphors. With the fall of soviet communism in 1989, the capitalist model for society was (is still) unchallenged, and CEOs were the new gurus. Quite suddenly, it seemed, governments were obsessed with running like businesses and selling public services to a private sector that would supposedly do things better and more economically. Suddenly, too, a deficit-cutting mania had, invisibly, infected the nation through endless repetition in the media. Perhaps it was a problem that needed to be addressed, but often governments were elected based on how quickly they promised to solve it, not how humanely. The right stepped further right to make room for the centrists and leftists who were joining the team. In Walkerton, Ontario, 21 citizens died due to “common sense” cuts to water quality monitoring services. Here in Alberta, there was Ralph’s assault on health care. In Quebec, the playwright recalls seeing a homeless man being asked by a reporter about budget cuts, and when he added his vote of confidence for tough but necessary measures to control the deficit, she resolved to write a play to battle an absurd consensus.
Today communist China is slowly joining the consensus (we’re all bracing for what will come of that), and a system that relies on self-interest has, for all its benefits, moved (again), lots of us think, beyond it usual atrophying effects, beyond its more casual forms of slaughter, to its most grotesque conclusion in Iraq and elsewhere – Wars and the threat of war are everywhere now (again)(still).
Be careful whom you learn from. Perfection can be deadly. Humanity is the measure of a system. Laughter is a revolution of its own. To laugh, you have to recognize the absurd. If it’s the contagious kind of laughter, it could bring inhumanity to its giddy knees. I’m laughing now. I guess I find myself irresistible when I’m grandiloquent…
I chose Quebec playwright Genevieve Billette’s neo-expressionist play Crime Against Humanity for my style project as part of my M.F.A. Directing studies. I’d been in love with the script since I’d first read it as a workshop actor at the Banff playRites Colony in 2001, where it was being translated into English by Bobby Theodore. While it was a school project, it was nevertheless the first ever English language production of the play.
I hope some day to direct this wonderfully grim, funny, and heartbreaking play professionally, perhaps with a bilingual cast in alternating performances in French and English.
November 25-26, 2006
7:30 pm Saturday and Sunday
2:00 pm matinée Sunday
Media Room (Bleviss Laboratory Theatre)
Fine Arts Building, University of Alberta
88th Avenue NW & 112th Street NW