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AN ALL-FEMALE STAGING OF THE POLICE TRANSCRIPt
OF O.P.P DETECTIVE JIM SMYTH’S INTERVIEW OF SERIAL KILLER RUSSELL WILLIAMS
"a shattering, unsettling, vital piece of theatre" -click here for reviews & articles
World Premiere | March 3 - 12, 2017
DEBORAH DRAKEFORD (NOW Magazine Top 10 Theatre Artist of 2016)
KIM NELSON (Breathing Corpses)
Live Drums by
LYNETTE GILLIS of Overnight and Plumtree
March 3 - 12, 2017
Wed-Sat 7:30pm | Sun 2pm
Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace
16 Ryerson Ave Toronto (map)
On February 7, 2010, Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth of the Ontario Provincial Police interviewed Colonel Russell Williams about his possible connection to multiple crimes, including two rape-murders, that had occurred in the Ottawa and Belleville areas close to the home and lakeside cottage Williams shared with his wife and their cat. Williams at the time commanded the Canadian Forces Base at Trenton, the busiest air base in the country (located near Belleville, about 175km east of Toronto). This was the first, and would end up being the only, time he was called in for questioning. After more than four and a half hours of careful interrogation punctuated by long waits and silences, Williams confessed, going on to describe his crimes in matter-of-fact detail. The entire session of nearly seven and a half hours was videoed and transcribed by the O.P.P. and, after some heavy redactions, posted and published. “It was an excellent piece of police work on behalf of Jim Smyth who conducted this interview — one of the best interviews I've ever seen” is how Smyth’s superior described it. “It's a smart man, outsmarted by a smarter man."
Colonel Russell Williams employed his military expertise to wage war against women and girls. Killing is part of war; so too, as a war crime, is rape. Until being captured and imprisoned in 2010, Williams raped and killed two women (Marie-France Comeau, Jessica Lloyd), tortured two others (Laurie Massicotte, Jane Doe), and secretly surveilled and broke into homes 82 times, stealing the underwear of women and girls as young as nine years old.
Williams’s war against our own citizenry substantiates Emmanuel Levinas’s observation that every country “employs arms that turn against those who wield them” — us — echoing Tiresias’s prophecy in the Antigone of Sophocles that “the god of death will strike us down with the pains that we perfected.” To label Williams a psychopath is conveniently to disregard the fact that — sane through and through and reared in some of Canada’s most esteemed academies, from Upper Canada College to the highest echelons of the Canadian Armed Forces — he was one of us who turned against us. His acumen and impressive military skill, acquired and honed in predominantly male institutions, were not in contrast to, but in concert with his crimes.
(The evidence to support this claim is staggering. This winter alone, a third sexual-abuse class-action lawsuit was filed against the Canadian military, claiming that "The Canadian Armed Forces is poisoned by a discriminatory and sexualized culture that condones and encourages sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination towards women." Statistics Canada recently revealed that more than one quarter of women serving in Canada's Armed Forces have been sexually assaulted during their careers. "If I do the math," says Emma Phillips, who served as legal counsel to the Deschamps inquiry into sexual misconduct in the Forces, "it means that women who enter the Armed Forces are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other women in other areas of Canadian life." Yet even in those other areas of Canadian life, sexual assault rates are also seriously stacked against women, comprising over 80% of sex crime victims.)
Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd, both murdered, are more than mere symbols of'victims,' but women with friends and family and loves who have suffered profoundly. The same is true of the two survivors, Laurie Massicotte and 'Jane Doe,' as well as the many women and girls Williams stalked and robbed. In light of such trauma, why revisit the horrors he inflicted on so many? As Reverend Susan Thistlethwaite suggests:
War and violence against women not only have similar social, cultural, and religious supports, they are mutually reinforcing. These supports allow societies to tolerate conditions in which a third of women and girls can be treated violently, without mass outcry and rebellion. When we challenge the attitudes and norms that enable violence against women, we also are helping to confront the conditions that support war.
Perhaps One Little Goat’s staging will manage such a confrontation. I’m all too aware that the odds favour failure.
- Adam Seelig, Toronto, 2017
Media & Links
- CBC News on Top OPP Interrogator Jim Smyth
- Wikipedia on ex-Colonel Russell Williams
- Timothy Appleby's biography of Russell Williams
- CBC's As It Happens: 'Horrifying,' but no surprise: Lawyer Emma Phillips on report on sexual assault in the Canadian Forces
- Vice News: Military Recruits Mock 'Operation Honor' as 'Hop On Her'
Featuring DEBORAH DRAKEFORD | KIM NELSON
Live Drums by LYNETTE GILLIS (Overnight)
Directed by Adam Seelig
Sets & Costumes Jackie Chau (Dora nominee)
Sound Design Tyler Emond (Oscar Peterson Prize)
Lighting Laird MacDonald (Dora nominee)
Stage Manager Robin Munro
Assistant Producer Hana El Niwairi
Publicity Carrie Sager, FLIP Publicity