The art of experiential theatre and the Canadian premiere of ‘strangers, babies’ by Toronto’s Theatre PANIK


Published:

Paul Lampert and Niki Landau, co-founders of Theatre Panik

What does it mean to be forgiven? How do you reinvent yourself when the choices you made changed the lives of others in profound ways? Who decides when you can let go? 

The play strangers, babies doesn’t attempt to answer these questions, but it won’t let you get away without asking them of you.

Produced by the thought-provoking Toronto company Theatre Panik, strangers, babies marks award-winning Scottish playwright Linda McLean’s Canadian debut. 

The story follows May, a woman seeking shelter from an inner darkness she’s only beginning to understand, as she interacts with five mysterious men.

McLean does not define their relationships; instead, she requires the audience to piece together the fragments of May’s past while providing both clues and confusion.

This blurring of information mimics the larger ideas that inhabit a fine line between innocence and guilt, adult and child, us and them.

Theatre Panik’s co-artistic directors, Niki Landau and Paul Lampert, have interpreted McLean’s work to emphasize this “us versus them” theme by staging their performance as an interactive series of curated vignettes that the audience physically navigates alongside May’s reflexive journey.

“It’s a new idea, curatorial theatre, but it’s really the flipside of a growing trend,” says Lampert. “We’re creating live theatre that feels like an art gallery, partly because the character, May, [is] constantly under the microscope and partly because we love the freedom and curiosity that one feels when looking at art. You can immerse yourself, or you can stand back — it’s your choice.”

In our current times, when horrific crimes are being streamed on social media, choosing between immersing yourself or standing back becomes even more relevant. What part do we play in the lives we touch, the content we consume?

“Here’s a story about a woman who is desperate to escape the public eye, to live a normal life, and you, as the audience, won’t let her,” says Landau, who also performs the role of May. 

“You're sitting right in the room, or you’re looking in the window — you’re culpable. It makes you part of May’s story."

Strangers, babies makes us question our responsibility as participants, our assumptions about starting over and the consequences of mistakes we can’t undo.

As we acknowledge Canada’s 150th year since Confederation, the debate about forgiveness takes place on and off the stage. 

Is it possible for enough time to pass for a wound to fully heal? Is the victim the only one who has been hurt? Or is the offender allowed to feel pain too? The answer may unsettle you.

Strangers, babies runs May 11 to 28 at Artscape Sandbox, tickets available online

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module

Follow us on Twitter @PostCity for more on what to eat, where to shop and what to do in Toronto.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Former city councillor pens memoir

Former city councillor pens memoir

Posted 2 days ago
The man rebuilding The Bridle Path

The man rebuilding The Bridle Path

After 16 completed projects and a 40,000-square-foot home ready for delivery, he has just broken ground on his biggest and the country’s biggest project to date: A mansion that clocks in at a mammoth 50,000 square feet.
Posted 2 days ago
Midtown businesses don’t want heritage status

Midtown businesses don’t want heritage status

Toronto City Council has granted 258 properties heritage status in Midtown, but some business owners are calling the batch listing a poor move by the city.
Posted 3 days ago
How safe is our neighbourhood? Part Two

How safe is our neighbourhood? Part Two

This is the second installment in our two-part series on crime in midtown Toronto neighbourhoods. Today, we take a look at robberies, assault and theft over $5,000.
Posted 3 days ago
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module