Sunday, May 04, 2008

THE WOODSMAN: Artistic Director's Notes

I'm a pacifist. I've never hit anyone, can't even remember yelling at anybody. One time I pushed my cousin, and I still feel bad about it.

I'm also a father. Once one of my elementary-school-aged daughters didn't show up at her friend's house when she was expected. Probably nothing was wrong, but there'd been word of a man driving around the neighbourhood in a van, so as I raced to my car to scour the neighbourhood for my daughter, I took the time to go to my garden shed and grab a baseball bat.


I kept seeing the trailer before shows at the Fifth Avenue. "What's the worst thing you ever did?..." "An unforgivable act. A chance to start over. A fight for redemption...." "I'm not a monster...." And I knew The Woodsman was a film I had to see.

It opened, and Morris happened to be in town, so we went together. The end credits rolled, tears streamed down my cheeks, and we said to each other, "Did you see what I just saw in that movie?" The credits told me it was based on a play, and I knew The Woodsman was a story we had to stage.


Not so long ago a sexual offender was released into a lower mainland neighbourhood, and he was hounded from community to community by angry, frightened people. You heard about it on the news. His pursuers didn't seem quite human, they seemed like a mob: or, they seemed all too human. Human or not, it seemed quite apparent that they didn't see this man as human. He was a predator, and they wanted him gone. And I was glad we'd decided to put The Woodsman on our stage.


This play goes to a very dark place. I don't know what to think about it: I don't know if it goes too far, or if it doesn't go far enough, but I'm glad it has the courage to go where it does. And finally, that's enough for me. This is not a position statement, it's not a documentary, it's not a theological treatise, it's not a community action plan or a psychology textbook: it's a play. The story of a man, a story that implicitly asks whether we can see him as a human being. A fellow human being.

And at the end of it all, I think of that Bruce Cockburn song that goes, "Even though I know who loves me, I'm not that much less lost."

Ron Reed,
Artistic Director

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