Last night Solo Chicken Productions presented their works in progress Pig and Fruit Machine at Theater New Brunswick Open Space. Both of these works are politically charged conversations. Pig addresses misogyny of the Trump Administration and Fruit Machine addresses the systematic firing of queer people in the RCMP and military in Canada.
It was a heavy yet necessary night.
Pig, created by Lisa Anne Ross in Collaboration with Visual Artist Danielle Hogan opens with a video stream of a woman (Lisa-Anne Ross) being dressed up in a green silk gown and red wig whilst Trump's deplorable comments play on a loop. Phrases like “nasty woman” and “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, you know” echo out across the audience.
These phrases become the catalyst for the tones production. The stage is then washed with red lights and the costumes are theatre black’s with Hogan’s visual art pieces placed over it. There is a theme, menstruation. The artistic elements of this show are stunning. A favorite of mine is the umbrella donned with a large train of red tool drug across the back of the stage in slow motion.
Even as a woman, I felt uncomfortable watching Hogan’s underwear embroidered with vaginas and red beadwork come across the stage with aggressive militaristic marching. I drove home that night wondering why I had any reason to be uncomfortable. I mean, its natural and beautiful right?
Pig is born out of the anger of women during the Trump administration. The misogyny they have faced and the shame felt from a natural feminine element. Its a show driven by rage, and a show about taking the power back.
Directed by Lisa Anne Ross
Created by Lisa Anne Ross in Collaboration with Visual Artist Danielle Hogan
Performed by Mariana Amero, Kira Chisholm, Naomi McGowan, Sydney Hallett and Lisa Anne Ross
Featuring Videography & Music Composed by Zak Rogers
Phase 2 of The Fruit Machine
I have been fortunate enough to witness this production in every public stage of its creation, and I have to say, I love it. Every time I learn something new about this dark time in Canada's history.
Alex Rioux and Samuel Crowell have diligently worked to research and create a soul-crushing show. We don't think things like this could happen in Canada.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s Canada RCMP and Military systematically sought out queer people within their ranks and purged them from the positions. It began with accusations that turned into wiretaps and tails to the creation of an object called a “Fruit Machine”. This machine could supposedly tell if you were queer by the dilation of the subject's pupils when exposed to pornographic images.
During the pride celebrations in Fredericton in 2018, The Fruit Machine Documentary rolled into town and was shown at the Fredericton Playhouse (this is completely unattached to the stage piece). The place was full. The survivors of the purge sat with the audience after the presentation to discuss how this affected their lives. Some were denied advancement in their ranks, some became homeless and drug abusers after being forced out of their jobs, some pretended to be straight and even got married to appease their parents while others were raped and beaten in the barracks by there units. I remember sitting next to Rioux in the Playhouse. He jotted down notes and movements and elements of their stories. I saw all of this reflected in this creation. If your curious to learn more, this documentary is available for FREE on TVO.
Don't forget, all of this is Canadian history.
Rioux and Crowell dug deep to find the few books they could on the subject. The Fruit Machine and the systematic purge didn't come to light until very recently. They took the pieces and laid them out for the audience. Showing the fear and paranoia in the queer community, the literal holes cut in newspapers (like a bugs bunny cartoon) and the interrogation tactics. If you haven’t had a chance to see this creation yet, do. It's a must-see.
Created by Alex Rioux and Samuel Crowell
Directed by Alex Rioux
Created by Alex Rioux and Samuel Crowell
Created & Performed by Samuel Crowell, Dustyn Forbes, Sydney Hallett, Miguel Roy & Esther Soucoup