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...

How creating graphic novels helped one Toronto teen thrive

How creating graphic novels helped one Toronto teen thrive

For Evi Tampold, dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a child was both a curse and a blessing. A curse because she grew up with frustrating bouts of hyperactivity and rage, and a blessing because it drew her to the world of graphic novels.
Posted 15 hours ago
Daily Planet: Why we need to stop using plastic straws

Daily Planet: Why we need to stop using plastic straws

It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. In the U.S. alone, people discard 500 million straws every day or more than 180 billion a year. That’s about 1.4 million kilograms of plastic sent to landfills and oceans every day!
Posted 17 hours ago
From towers to townhouses: A Richmond Hill highrise development gets a major scale back

From towers to townhouses: A Richmond Hill highrise development gets a major scale back

After four years of development limbo, an original proposal for two residential towers at 370 Red Maple Rd. has been resubmitted as a reduced plan for a townhouse development, slashing the number of units by 74 per cent and the height from 16 and 18 storeys high to three-storey townhouses.
Posted 5 days ago
Nine Toronto venues will host Prince Harry’s Invictus Games

Nine Toronto venues will host Prince Harry’s Invictus Games

Canada will be represented by 90 Canadian Armed Forces members, two of whom hail from T.O. — retired Cpl. Michael Clarke, in cycling and track and field, and retired Cpl. Ryan Voll in cycling. Events run Sept. 23 to 30 at nine venues across the city from Nathan Phillips Square to York Lions Stadium.
Posted 5 days ago
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module