The Wrecking Ball
Four actors walk onstage – one with a Quebecois accent, one with a white napkin taped below his nose as a moustache, one brown-haired guy in jeans, and finally one with his hair slicked to the side. Yes, Canada’s four major party leaders are in the room and they are in therapy together. “Michael, I’d like you to use the ‘when you do that, I feel…’ when you are speaking to Stephen,” says Gilles, the moderator of the therapy session. A hilarious skit making fun of all of the party leaders opens the Wrecking Ball 2011.
Next comes a spoof of Laureen Harper to talk about her life as the “queen of housewives, at home baking cookies for the kids.” Then a very moving, serious piece on lack of free speech in an unnamed country where women are raped, then threatened if they speak of it to anyone, especially the foreign press. Two writers-in-exile read letters they have written to Canada reminding us not to take our democracy for granted. Then a final very silly scene between Stephen Harper and his stylist that ends in Harper, covered in clown makeup, singing Tomorrow from Annie while walking up and down the aisle.
The scenes above were separated with quotes read by the organizers about democracy, information about websites involving the arts and politics, and referring back to the live tweeting happening and what they can find on Twitter about a possible Yoko Ono sighting at the Ottawa Wrecking Ball.
This is the twelfth Wrecking Ball since 2004 – all in response to a political need. The set-up: a group of writers are given one week to write a 10-minute play and one week to rehearse, in response to certain themes or questions. For Wrecking Ball 12 – the second ever national wrecking ball, happening in Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal at the same time – the playwrights were given two questions: What is leadership? And what is democracy? This year Marcus Youssef, Vancouver playwright, had his piece performed in every city (the leaders in therapy), with different local writers filling the rest of the evening. The Toronto writers were: Sean Dixon, Ava Homa, Ayub Nuri, Colleen Wagner, and Jean Yoon.
In this year’s Wrecking Ball live tweeting was introduced in order to connect nationally, all under the hastag #wreckingball2011. You can check out what was said by searching #wreckingball2011 and #wb2011 on twitter.com. My favourite tweet of the night, though, was by praxistheatre: “Apparently Montreal #WreckingBall2011 used puppets for “In Treatment”. Puppets! In gov’t? Never. #WB2011”