Thursday, March 22, 2018

Factory presents
Written by Colleen Wagner | Directed by Jani Lauzon
Performed by Augusto Bitter and Tamara Podemski
March 10 – April 1, 2018


Jane Lauzon's re-imagining of Colleen Wagner's The Monument is an incredibly powerful rendering of a play about war - the kind of war played out not on specific, faraway national battlefields by specific military machines, but on the geographic sites and the individual bodies of marginalized communities  within our own country - communities still struggling through the horrific effects of colonization and its depletion of entire cultures. 

How much action is enough for a people who have been mistreated for centuries? For a people who have inhabited this land for more than a millennia, but have been struggling to live on the same land? A war has been waged upon them for living in their own home. Canada has been a part of this ongoing war for over 150 years! Thousands of indigenous women and girls have been murdered or have gone 'missing' in Canada. Mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers of this land have had no action taken for them...Our action as theatre artists was to tell their story...The road to reconciliation can only begin if we take action.
                Himanshu Sitlani - Assistant Director, The Monument

My vision of Colleen's play doesn't negate the fact that rape as a war tactic has been used since time immemorial and is taking place "over there." But it is also happening "right here."

                Jani Lauzon - Director, The Monument

In Nina Lee Aquino's opening night address she referred indirectly to Lauzon's sense of this  ongoing war. This is an essential and timely addition to an ongoing conversation about a battle that has yet to be won. By bringing this sense of permanent war into a specific context that the original play did not address, the production sheds a tragic light upon a national and global penchant for constant conflict and the murder of innocent women. 

Rape, an all too frequent product of war is placed within the site of reservations where indigenous women have been killed. The interaction between one woman's attempt to gain justice is powerfully staged and performed. Augusto Bitter's  portrayal of a weakened, bewilderingly tortured product of toxic, murderous, masculinity plays off of Tamara Podemski's powerhouse of emotion with a kind of timid terror. Bitter belies, with a kind of high vocal pitch, the traditional forms of lower tones allocated to masculine forms. Podemski embraces the space and the rapist with a vocal and physical presence both menacing and interrogative - gaining empathy and sympathy in complex ways. It is difficult but increasingly necessary to watch this relentless play of varied and contrasting emotion. As Lauzon states in her program notes - "What does reconciliation look like? My suspicion is that what you are about to witness could be construed as one version of that process: sometimes violent, sometimes loving, and sometimes brutal."

The setting suggests a timeless space for the aftermath of horror to play out in an endless relay of physical terror. Designed as an almost surreal and necessary exercise in honouring the names of the dead, a non specific site suggests both symbolism and naturalism as empty red dresses drive home the bloody products of warring acts and abject emotions enacted by a killer/rapist and his captor. By the end of a ninety minute marathon of back and forth high pitched conflict, there comes a sad, harrowing sense of loss that begins to honour the memory of women found within diverse situations and forcibly named as individuals who deserve to be recognized. 

As an important and essential part of an historic acknowledgement of all kinds of war - wars all too permanent and all too unnecessary in their scope and tragic consequence - Wagner's text and Lauzon's re-imagining adds to ongoing attempts  to unravel, to bear witness, and to continue to utilize the horror of catharsis in the theatre as it takes shape both onstage and off - continuing to question and interrogate a country's history that should never have played itself out in such blatant and murderous disregard for the lives, the traditions, and the lands of far too many....

The Monument runs at 
Factory Theatre until April 1

Factory Theatre is proud to present THE MONUMENT, Colleen Wagner’s classic, dark and powerful war play, directed by Jani Lauzon and running in the Mainspace March 10 – April 1, 2018.
THE MONUMENT tells the story of a soldier desperate to escape death for his war crimes who agrees to give himself to the complete servitude of an unknown woman. A harrowing and visceral journey of two people forced to confront the atrocities of war; this Governor General’s Award-winning play asks questions that remain painfully familiar on our front pages today.
Considering THE MONUMENT through a lens of the 500-year war that has been waged against the people of Turtle Island since European colonization, this newly reimagined production will confront many of the dark and uncomfortable truths of Canada’s complicity around missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The cast of THE MONUMENT features Venezuelan-born actor, singer, and writer Augusto Bitter (Rope Running Out, lemonTree creations; El Retorno / I Return (Why Not Theatre/Riser Project 2017; Our Town, Theatre Rusticle), and the award-winning Ojibway actor, dancer, choreographer, and singer/songwriter Tamara Podemski (Dance Me Outside, dir: Bruce McDonald; The Edward Curtis Project, Vancouver Cultural Olympiad; Rent, Canadian and Broadway companies; and television series The Rez, North of 60 and Heartland).
THE MONUMENT, written by Alberta-born Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Colleen Wagner, was published by Playwrights Canada Press in 1996, has been translated into numerous languages, was adapted for the big screen, and continues to be performed internationally. Other notable plays by Wagner include The Morning Bird, down from heaven, Home, and The Living, a documentary play which premiered at SummerWorks Festival 2015 and won the Audience Choice award.
Director Jani Lauzon, a multidisciplinary artist of M├ętis ancestry, is an award-winning film actor, six-time Dora Mavor Moore-nominated actress, Juno-nominated singer/songwriter, and Gemini Award-winning puppeteer. Directing credits include: Alien Creature (Theatre Passe Muraille), two short films eu·tha·na·sia and Just One Word (which she also wrote and produced) and Waiora (Centre for Indigenous Theatre).
THE MONUMENTWritten by Colleen Wagner
Directed by Jani Lauzon
Performed by Augusto Bitter and Tamara Podemski
Set and Props Design by Elahe Marjovi
Costume Design by Samantha McCue
Lighting Design by Louise Guinand
Composition and Sound Design by Deanna Choi
A Factory Production
March 10 – April 1, 2018

OPENING NIGHT: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 8pmTuesday – Saturday @ 8pm, Sunday @ 2pm, Sunday Preview @ 7pmSingle tickets start at just $20 for previews and range from $30-$50 for regular performances
Student, Arts Worker and Senior prices also available
Purchase in person at Factory, 125 Bathurst Street, visit or call 416.504.9971

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