Metro News on SMYTH / WILLIAMS

Metro News, Jan 25, 2017

Play based on Russell Williams' interrogation advocates for women's rights

Theatre production featuring an all-female cast will hit Toronto stage this March

Serial killer Russell Williams’ police interrogation and subsequent confession is about to hit the stage in Toronto — told by a female cast of two through a feminist lens.

One Little Goat Theatre Company will premiere Smyth/Williams, a play based on the transcripts from the cross-examination of the embattled former military star now serving a life sentence.

The play’s goal is to highlight an issue that’s becoming more urgent in our society: Violence against women and girls.

“This problem is becoming endemic, especially in the military,” said artistic director Adam Seelig, noting a 2015 report from retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps, which showed a woman in the military is five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than a civilian.

But the problem is also prevalent in other structures within society, he said.

“Look at the misogynist rhetoric coming from politics south of our border,” he said, commending last weekend’s Women’s March on Washington and others around the world. “We can’t just let the rights of women be trampled on.”

The play – which uses its female cast to “subvert the male dominance” – is an attempt to use an “extreme case” to convey a message, said Seelig.

The play is set around interviews of Williams conducted by OPP Det. Staff Sgt. Jim Smyth. They detail what happened in two rape-murders for which Williams was eventually convicted.

Actresses Deborah Drakeford and Kim Nelson alternate playing both Smyth and Williams.

Seelig said the unsettling material is intended to make people more aware of the violence.

“It’s a disturbing case, and we hope it communicates directly and strongly with our audience,” he said. “Everyone has to know that it’s our responsibility to end this issue.”

Smyth/Williams runs March 3-12, 2017 at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. For more click here.


CBC News, Jan 23, 2017

Toronto theatre to stage play based on interview of killer Russell Williams

One Little Goat Theatre Company to use an all-female cast for the production

A Toronto-based theatre company is developing a play based on the intense police interrogation in which convicted sex killer Russell Williams confessed his crimes.

One Little Goat Theatre Company plans to premiere Smyth/Williams in March, with an all-female cast that will alternate the roles of the interrogating officer and Williams through the performance.

The company's artistic director, Adam Seelig, says he first got the idea for the play in 2010, when Williams' case and his confession to Ontario Provincial Police Det. Sgt. Jim Smyth was making headlines.

Seelig says he was amazed at the time by Smyth's ingenuity and chilled by Williams' matter-of-fact confessions to heinous crimes — all strong material for a theatrical performance.

But Seelig says he only moved to make the play a reality after noticing what he called a recent urgency around the issue of violence against women, particularly against women in the military.

Williams, once a rising star in the Canadian Forces, was sentenced to life in prison in October 2010 after pleading guilty to the murders of two women — 37-year-old Cpl. Marie-France Comeau and 27-year-old Jessica Lloyd.

The former commander of Canada's largest military airfield also pleaded guilty to 82 fetish break- and-enters and thefts as well as two sexual assaults.

Seelig acknowledges that a play based on Williams' confession to horrifying crimes deals with disturbing material.

But he said current discourse around violence against women, and the recent dialogue around women's rights in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, makes the play particularly relevant.

"Now is the time to look at what I will call truly tragic violence," Seelig said. "I would agree with the people who say it is hard, it's heavy, it's difficult, but it is necessary to look at it, to examine it, to raise awareness about it if we're ever going to have any chance of understanding it and curbing it."

The majority of the lines in the play will be taken directly from a transcript of Smyth's interrogation of Williams, Seelig said.

Having the actors in the play alternate roles between Williams and Smyth was also a deliberate decision to ensure a single performer was not over-burdened by playing the sadistic criminal, Seelig said.

"For one person to take on Williams and to say what Williams says is almost too much for a person who feels deeply, and most actors do," he said. "Part of it is to distribute the weight."

Williams came under police suspicion in February 2010 after officers stopped him at a roadside canvass after Lloyd went missing. Officers noticed the distinctive tires on his Nissan Pathfinder, similar to the treads they'd found near Lloyd's Belleville, Ont., home.

The military commander came in for questioning and eventually caved under Smyth's masterful interrogation techniques.

Williams methodically chronicled and catalogued his crimes, shooting videos and still photos of himself in the act and amassing a huge collection of undergarments stolen from women and girls.

The Canadian Forces stripped him of his rank after his conviction and, in a rare move, burned his uniform.

Smyth/Williams runs March 3-12, 2017 at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. For more click here.

Statement from One Little Goat regarding "Smyth/Williams"

On January 23, 2017, One Little Goat Theatre Company announced our upcoming premiere in Toronto of SMYTH / WILLIAMS, an all-female staging of the transcript of OPP Detective Jim Smyth’s interrogation of former colonel and convicted serial killer Russell Williams. The announcement has been met with interest from the Canadian public and media, as well with concern from some members of the public directly and indirectly affected by Williams’s sado-sexual, horrific crimes from seven years ago.

To those who have written in support of One Little Goat’s decision to stage this difficult transcript, thank you. To those who have reached out with your concerns, thank you, too; we would like to address them, fully aware of the high degree of sensitivity surrounding this subject.

One Little Goat is an independent, not-for-profit, artist-driven theatre company and charity that stages productions of the highest artistic calibre, often addressing vital issues at the core of our society. Neither One Little Goat nor anyone involved with the company is profiting from SMYTH / WILLIAMS, nor has any government agency funded the production.

One Little Goat’s staging of SMYTH / WILLIAMS raises awareness of, and challenges the toxic culture underpinning, sexual violence against women and girls. It is an important part of a wider public process of coming to terms with the horror, rage and grief that such violence has occurred and continues to occur throughout Canada.

One Little Goat would rather not stage SMYTH / WILLIAMS. More precisely, we wish we lived in a country where Russell Williams’s war on women and girls never took place and where today, seven years later, the safety of women and girls was firmly enshrined (or at very least equal to that of men and boys).

The terrible reality is that sexual assault against women continues to be endemic in Canada. Statistics Canada recently revealed that more than one quarter of women serving in our Armed Forces have been sexually assaulted during their careers. In other areas of Canadian life, sexual assault rates are similarly unnerving: 39% of adult women have suffered at least one experience of sexual assault. South of our border, President Trump has boasted explicitly about committing sexual assault — with impunity. In this way, Williams’s crimes against women and girls are part of a larger, national, continental, humanitarian problem.

This is why we urgently feel that, as empathic citizens and artists, it is our responsibility to bear witness to these atrocities, never allowing them to be forgotten, and identifying them as part of a nation-wide epidemic of sexual assaults targeting women and girls. With SMYTH / WILLIAMS we are confronting the attitudes and norms that enable such violence.

There will never be a ‘good’ time to address horrific, traumatic events, yet we cannot afford to wait if our society is ever to make progress in their wake. The theatre is an essential space where such an address can take place, where we can openly grapple with the most difficult issues and incidents of our times, raising critical public awareness in the process.

As painter Bracha Ettinger describes in “Art in a Time of Atrocity”:

Art proceeds by trusting in the human capacity to contain and convey its rage and its pain, and to transform residuals of violence into ethical relations via new forms […]. It is to trust that we will be able to bear in compassion the unbearable, the horrible and the inhuman in the human. […] Enlarging the capacity to elaborate, carry and transform traces of violence, whether private or historical, is a responsibility. This is one of art’s most important functions.

It is essential that such works of art, bearing witness to trauma, exist. One Little Goat’s production will bear witness. We invite the public to join us in doing so, not despite, but because of the difficulty and sensitivity at the heart of SMYTH / WILLIAMS.

Thank you once again to the many who have connected with One Little Goat in light of this upcoming production.

One Little Goat Theatre Company

Media Release for One Little Goat's SMYTH / WILLIAMS

For Immediate Release: January 23, 2017 • Please include in your listings/announcements

One Little Goat Theatre Company presents
A Documentary Staging Directed by Adam Seelig
Starring Deborah Drakeford and Kim Nelson
Live Drum Accompaniment by Lynette Gillis
March 3 - 12, 2017 • Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace

“Toronto's enterprising One Little Goat Theatre Company” (New York Times) presents the world premiere of SMYTH / WILLIAMS, an unconventional staging of the police interview of sado-sexual serial killer Russell Williams, directed by Adam Seelig and featuring the all-female cast of Deborah Drakeford and Kim Nelson.

On February 7, 2010, Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth of the Ontario Provincial Police interviewed Colonel Russell Williams about multiple crimes, including two rape-murders, that had occurred in locations close to the lakeside cottage Williams shared with his wife near Belleville.

At the time, Williams commanded the Canadian Forces Base at Trenton, the busiest air base in Canada. Employing his military expertise, Williams waged his own private war against women and girls of his own citizenry. Once Williams was called in for questioning, Smyth’s carefully crafted 4.5 hour interrogation led to a confession, with Williams describing his crimes in matter-of-fact detail for another five hours.

Now legendary, the entire session was filmed and transcribed by the O.P.P., heavily redacted, and finally posted and published. "It was an excellent piece of police work," said Smyth’s superior, "a smart man being outsmarted by a smarter man."

Verbatim-like SMYTH / WILLIAMS confronts the attitudes and norms that enable violence against women, while also challenging the conditions that support war. 

Founded in New York in 2002, and based in Toronto since 2005, One Little Goat Theatre Company is acclaimed for its highly interpretive, provocative approach to contemporary poetic theatre. Director Adam Seelig is a poet, playwright, stage director, author of Every Day in the Morning (slow) and the founder and artistic director of One Little Goat. Deborah Drakeford, one of NOW Magazines Top 10 Theatre Artists of 2016, can regularly be seen on stages across the country including performances with Actors Repertory Company, Young People’s Theatre and Soulpepper. Quadrilingual stage, screen and videogame actor Kim Nelson received rave reviews for her recent performance in Coal Mine Theatre’s Breathing Corpses.  Drummer Lynette Gillis has been making music with her sister Carla for the better part of two decades. Their current band, Overnight, recently released their debut album Carry Me Home, a passionate tribute to classic rock and their late older sister, Darlene.

One Little Goat Theatre Company presents
Based on the transcript of O.P.P Detective Jim Smyth’s interview of Colonel Russell Williams
Directed by Adam Seelig
Starring Deborah Drakeford and Kim Nelson
Live Drums performed by Lynette Gillis
Sets and Costume Design by Jackie Chau
Sound Design by Tyler Emond
Lighting Design by Laird MacDonald
World Premiere | March 3 - 12, 2017

Opening Night: Friday, March 3, 2017 @ 7:30pm
Wednesday – Saturday @ 7:30pm | Sunday matinee @ 2pm
Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto
All Regular Tickets $25 | Sunday Matinee $15  | Student/Senior/Arts Workers $20

For more information and to purchase tickets visit

Media Contact: FLIP PUBLICITY, Carrie Sager,

Auditions for One Little Goat's "Smyth / Williams"

Production name: SMYTH / WILLIAMS
Deadline to submit: December 8, 2016
Audition date: Week of December 12, 2016
Email applications to: chadgadya at
Contact name: Adam Seelig

One Little Goat Theatre Company is holding auditions for our March 2016 world premiere of SMYTH / WILLIAMS, an unconventional staging of OPP Detective Jim Smyth’s 2010 interview of serial rapist-murderer Colonel Russell Williams.

Dates: performances March 2-12, 2017 at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace; rehearsals begin February 6, 2017 at latest.

We are seeking two female actors of the highest calibre with outstanding verbal ability, memorization and dynamic physicality. Strong sense of rhythm is a plus. Actors of all cultural backgrounds welcome.

Smyth: played by a woman (age 25-55)
Williams: played by a woman (age 25-55)

Please submit résumé and headshot by email to Adam Seelig, Artistic Director, chadgadya at by WED DEC 7.

Only CAEA members will be considered. Only those selected for an audition will be contacted. Actors will be engaged under a form of Equity policy.

“Toronto’s enterprising One Little Goat” (New York Times) is North America’s only theatre company devoted to contemporary poetic theatre. Acclaimed for its highly interpretive, provocative approach to international plays, One Little Goat consistently features leading Canadian theatre artists.