Tuesday, May 13, 2008

THE WOODSMAN: Audience response

May 13
I was quite impressed by The Woodsman. I thought it was excellent writing and was acted so well. Words like "naturally" and "compassionately" come to mind.
It's a shame the theatre wasn't filled every performance. I'm sure most people watch much more disturbing portrayals on weekly TV shows and the evening news.
For me, I just must remember not to plan anything in the real world right after the Saturday matinee. I was in a trance when I walked to an appointment with my tax accountant. I could have been run over by a bus.
Warm regards,
Margaret Brown
April 29
Thanks so much for putting on The Woodsman. It really struck a chord with me and I found it very moving, enlightening, and healing. Bravo!

- Mike Mason

And one more April 29 email, a PT friend passing along the response of his guests;
I thought you might like to read the email I received from a friend who is a deep thinker and theologian (not necessarily the same thing) whose wife is a high school principal. I gave them 2 tickets for the Friday night show:

"Thank you indeed for the tickets to the Woodsman. We both thought the play was both harrowing and magnificent. It caused us to talk about all the great themes of grace, forgiveness and repentance all the way home. I suspect that such conversations are the very thing Pacific Theatre hopes for."

Here is the real thank you: "We will subscribe next season."

Again, thank you for a great, courageous performance. Long may PT do the courageous thing that makes a difference in our community.

April 27
Just wanted to let you know that I went to see the matinee yesterday and I was so moved by the performances. Kudos to you for including this play in your season. Forget that PT is a Christian company, it's courageous for any Theatre Co. to produce it, much less a Christian one. But who better to present this difficult and uncomfortable subject with such tenderness and raw humanity.

I applaud you!
L. Ong

April 25

I have had some excellent discussions with my friends and family in regards to the compassion/ trust/ justice issues we should struggle with as a society and as individuals in regards to pedophiles.

I am a police officer and spent several years as sex crimes investigator. I interviewed many pedophiles over those years. Those were interesting conversations. Some were heart wrenching, many were frightening. We do ourselves a disservice to quickly demonize these individuals. Pacific theatre started an important conversation.

Thanks again for your efforts...

April 21
I often think about going to PT, but too often don't turn that into action. Perhaps it's the West Van thing. I'm glad I acted on my intention this time. The cast did a superb job of personifying a really ugly topic. I wasn't really surprised that so many in the audience stayed for the talkback session - at least one-third did - which speaks volumes to the fact they wanted to know more and/or understand, perhaps like me, what had drawn them to attend the play.

Since Saturday night, I've spoken to a few people about having gone to the play and the subject matter. The kindest response has involved dismemberment - and you know the "member" to which I refer. There seems to be a lot of anger / fear and very little grace offered up in this situation.

I was running an errand yesterday afternoon and passed a couple of pretty young girls wearing spring dresses. Normal enough. But my reaction wasn't normal - I was thinking of Walter, tortured by his past actions and seeking some modest sense of understanding and forgiveness from people just like me. My initial revulsion at the thought of someone violating those young girls turned to a door opening on the awareness that the perpetrator would also be a victim of sorts, in need of help as much as those whom he/she violated. Your play caused that door to open for me. Thank you.

Best regards, John Jennings

April 20
I was not planning on going to see the Woodsman. Due to circumstances I could not have foreseen I was invited to go by a good friend last night. Thus, to be with my friend I went to the play. I think he too was surprised he was there. (both of our wives were out of town)

I want to thank you for taking the risk of doing this play. I didn’t want to go because the topic made me queasy and I certainly didn’t want any grace for those f…king perverts. What I experienced was a profound sense of the complexity of sin, the power of friendships and the opportunity of hope in the midst of a sense of defeat in an area of personal struggle with sin (that we all have).

I am a better, more reflective person for having gone. The cast did a superb job as well.


April 17
As I drove home last night I was thinking of the parallels between the Woodsman and the 'Good Samaritan' story - With 'Nikki' being the Good Samaritan. The men were less than effective in the efforts to 'help' - it was only she, of foul mouth and loose morals, that saw the true person of Walter and loved without condition. Funny as I also saw Walter as someone beat up and bruised. A 'victim' by a very different definition from the common. This play does embody the identity of Pacific Theatre. Asking the questions - what is true Grace? What is forgiveness? Where, as a society are our lines drawn? Where as a person is my line drawn? A brilliant story, a brilliant cast, and a brilliant set, lighting, and sound. wow.

Rory Holland

A couple of my own thoughts in response to Rory's note...
Fabulous comments on THE WOODSMAN. Yeah, I'd say Nikki really is about the best embodiment of the samaritan I can think of at the moment: exactly the last person we think of as that means of grace (redemption through sex?). And yes, Dirk's portrayal of Walter is especially like the man beaten up by the side of the road: very guarded, damaged, wary of blows.

Yeah, parable. Absolutely. We have to turn our expectations, our understanding of what the world is and how it works, upside down to be able to receive this play - which is exactly how Jesus' parables were meant to work. Indeed, the "message" of the parable might never have been as important as the radical chiropractic realignment of our perceptions, preconceptions, attitudes. It's important that parables and theatre challenge specific beliefs about the world: it may be more important that they cause us to adopt a less rigid, fixed and certain general stance toward the world, and toward other people and God. And WOODSMAN demands that of us more than most.

(Further to that conversation, here's a link to Mark Van Steenwyk's thoughts on the way that Jesus' parables work, plus his list of "7 Flicks That Subvert," which includes - wouldn't you know - THE WOODSMAN.)
April 13
Once again, what a delight last night's performance was. Wow. The little girl shadowing Walter was brilliant - such a picture of innocence evoking feelings of fear and menace. But I found myself wondering - was it Walter or the girl who was the source of the menace? Or was it the tension between the two like a newly sober alcoholic and the wine on the table at a dinner party? Brilliant. Dirk van Stralen was totally believable and that takes so much work for it to appear so effortless, doesn't it? I mean, he really was Walter! Just like Camille became Robin.

Rosen was great and the merry go round metaphor is now stuck to my bathroom mirror. By going in circles, we find things we missed the first time around. It reminds me of "When I don't know what I'm doing, I'm doing research. Due to the abundance of 'Theatre Magic,' I completely missed the fact that Rosen, Carlos and Lucas were all played by the same actor!

Wish I could have stayed for the talk back but we have tickets for Stage & Screen evening so looking forward to that.

Lorri Romhanyi

April 10
Kudos to you! I saw ... _The Woodsman_ tonight and was very impressed insofar as I was often uncomfortable with the story unfolding before me. Uncomfortable in a good way ;-). The intimate venue and theatre in the round forced the audience, I think, to confront (or be complicit or part of) what was going on on the stage. At the same time to see other audience members watching the actors from the other side (and to know that I was similarly being watched) seemed to add a feeling of judgment, as if we were judging Walter as he unveiled himself to us. Do we damn him, forgive him, empathize with me??? To do the latter, does that mean we identify an equatable and undesirable aspect within ourselves? Dirk and Rebecca, in particular, were fabulous and handled the difficult subject matter very well. I was grateful to see such evenly acted (not over-the-top or uneven) performances. Just wanted to thank you for rising to the challenge putting on a difficult piece of theatre. It prompted a lively debate after the show with my fellow theatre-goer.

David van den Broek

April 7
Just wanted to say that we watched "The Woodsman" with some friends at Pacific Theatre on Saturday, and were blown away by the quality of the acting and the script. We noticed that the play's script included some scenes (or extended scenes) which were not in the film version, and which helped crystallize the "woodsman" theme. A gutsy choice for Pacific Theatre to put on. And very well performed.

Larry & Sylvia Adams

Apr 3
Just wanted to say thank you for the free tickets to see the Woodsman last night. Brilliant show, went to bed thinking about it, woke up thinking about it, and the more I think the more I relish it!

Every time I’m at Pacific Theatre I see something that feeds my soul...thanks for bringing truth and beauty to our city!

Janice Miller
Worship Arts Director
Langley Evangelical Free Church

And here is an email from Alison Chisholm, part of our staff at Pacific Theatre, with a beautifully personal response. A bit of a SPOILER warning for the first paragraph;
Hey Ron;

(The person who saw the play with Alison) liked it. He was relieved that it was not quite as graphic as the film. We both thought that Kevin Bacon was a lot creepier than Dirk, which was a good thing. I think (my friend)'s issues (with the film and play) were that Walter only redeemed himself after finding out the girl was already a victim (which my friend didn't seem was all that redemptive). We actually talked about it a lot after show. In the end we just concluded that there may not have been a permanent change in Walter, but that at least for a moment he was able to stop being a wolf to become the woodsman. Which I think is the whole point of the story. Everyone has the chance and capability to show compassion and be a hero, even if just for a moment. I really hope to make it out to the talk-back. ...

Thanks again for choosing this show. It means a lot to me, personally. I'm so proud to be on the staff of the company who produces shows such as this. It's just another great reminder as to why I work in theatre.

Thanks again,


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