On October 13, Pi Theatre’s Artistic Associates Pippa Mackie and Jeff Gladstone and actors Tom Pickett and Barbara Ellen Pollard presented the program for the evening to an eager audience. The crowd listened while marvelling at the party favours in their hands: packets of condoms for both men and women. Each actor was costumed in a simple white top and black bottoms, with a few shirt buttons left open suggestively. Mackie had purposefully put on ripped, black pantyhose.
Welcome to the Sex Edition, the first performance of the daring series Lost Words. That night, the troupe would perform three “very sexy…and twisted” plays which had been banned during the late 19th to 20th century. Lost Words, Mackie and Gladstone explained, would feature cheeky, redacted plays and all the sensitive topics that come along with them. They closed the introduction with a simple question: “What’s more destructive to a society than…a bunch of artists?” The audience clapped and laughed, and the show began.
The performers had selected scenes from Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, Michael McClure’s The Beard, and Thomas Bradshaw’s Intimacy. Orgasms took place on stage, and storylines touched intrepidly on pedophilia, incest, and pornography, yet everything was performed poetically. In between each play, they performed songs which had also once been censored. Renditions of “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)” and “Colt 45” (during which my friend said to me, “This song is a masterpiece!”) lightened the mood of an otherwise intense performance.
The audience that night were observably respectful, open-minded, and so ready to have fun. Some of us, admittedly, made uncomfortable noises at moments during the scenes with explicit content—but these were honest, uninhibited reactions, not signs of disapproval. I don’t think the provocative theatre acts I saw that evening would have had the same impact or appeal at a different venue, with a less appreciative and accepting audience—a pleasant assurance for our “no fun” city.
Luckily, there is more to come from Lost Words: on December 1, the cast will tackle another cringe-worthy subject: Religion.
Lost Words: Religion Edition takes place at The Emerald on December 1 at 8:30 pm. Tickets will be available on the Pi Theatre website and at the door.