As audiences follow the trilogy to three different venues they’ll experience how the plays build upon each other. We first enter the world of The Empire readying for war in The Philosopher’s Wife, a 4-hander exposing society’s obsession with gendered power dynamics told through the lens of dog training. 20 years later, The Scavenger’s Daughter takes us through a now destroyed landscape as 5 soldiers try to survive war and toxic masculinity. Four Sisters, a spiraling combination of dance and theatre, begins 280 years into the future, as an intergenerational cast of 10 women face an apocalyptic world.
Below are director statements for each show. We've created a sonic and visual journey for you to experience our design inspiration in more detail on our Artistic Visions page.
Part One: The Philosopher's Wife / at The AKI Studio / Directed by Leora Morris
The Philosopher’s Wife offers us a fertile collision of different times and spaces, real and imaginary. We’re in an imagined Empire, yet the scenic breakdown reads: “RIGHT NOW. FEUDALISM”. It feels familiar, perhaps like our own shift from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment, except the countries, philosophers, rulers, and ideologies don’t align with, or behave like our own. Or, do they? Have we truly progressed past feudal master/slave dynamics? Has the power imbalance between genders equalized? Why do women still enforce the patriarchy? Is it possible to champion reason, equality, and humanism, while still acknowledging and honouring our physical beings, our animalism?
We're working work with a professional dog-trainer who was a consultant on the script, to understand the behavioral language of dogs. This process will sublimate difficult questions: How do we feel seeing a woman trained like a dog? How does she resist a system we feel is overtaking her? Using violence? Sex? Touch? Actors and audience alike have expressed discomfort with seeing a woman in chains being trained like a dog. And yet, there are women all over the world right now in chains of every kind - literal, overt, internalized, invisible. In the era of the Trump-presidency, the resignation of Albert Schultz, and the #metoo movement, this play offers a theatricalized opportunity to look at the systems underneath sexism and the patriarchy. The relationship in this play is extreme—a woman “domesticated” to a man’s standard. The fact that another woman “domesticates” her leaves us questioning how both women benefit from the distribution of power.
Part Two: The Scavenger's Daughter / at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre / Directed by ted witzel
20 years after The Philosopher's Wife ends, we re-enter The Empire as a now destroyed landscape. ted witzel plunges us into a mechanized world, where five soldiers struggle to survive war and toxic masculinity. To best capture his vision for the work, ted made you this video.
250 years after The Scavenger's Daughter ends, we pick back up with Sarah, as she and her found family of orphaned daughters face an apocalyptic world.
“We can practice being together again tomorrow.” Is a line from The Philosopher’s Wife Tereza says to everyone the first time she brings the wife in on a leash. It’s my starting point as the director of Four Sisters, co-leading a cast of 10 women who come from all over the age, race, artistic, cultural, and economic spectrum in a piece that explores the complex ways women subjugate other women in their individual struggles for power.
“How do we be together?” is one of the most urgent questions we can ask each other as citizens (and all the ways we identify) on this land right here. Right now.
Canada. Turtle Island. Right here. Right now.
How do we be together--within Imperial Canada, the Global North, white supremacy, within #metoo, within the collision between the world of the play and ours?
Our hearts are broken. Our rage is sharp. We carry these histories within our bodies. What is happening? What might the future(s) bring?
In our process, and in our offering to audiences, Amanda and I are pursuing a practice of discovery through reclamation of our hearts and female bodies from histories of devastation. We had the chance to develop a co-leading practice last summer, fluidly moving between generative choreographic systems and scenic staging. We are seeking, along with our ensemble of female performers, to discover emergent feminine approaches to power, narrative structures, and embodied presence.”
Amanda: "Susanna and I have developed a practice of using systems of the Body (nervous system, skeletal system, etc.) as methods for embodiment and choreographic structures. We're using these structures as ways to approach staging, the text, and the performer's relationship to both the allegorical world of the play--and task of being together in the here and now. This work is an extension of the experimental methods I used to choreograph multiform(s), a hypnotizing expression of the female body in perpetual motion.”
Below: an excerpt of Amanda's previous work, multiform(s) which has toured nationally and featured at the Festival TransAmériques in 2016.