Nearly two decades, before a string of celebrity careers got derailed by sexual abuse accusations, Stephen Belber wrote the prescient stage play Tape.
It’s about an aspiring filmmaker, Jon, who meets up with his former his highschool friend, Vince, at a film festival. They eventually begin reminiscing about a girl they both dated in high school.
During their conversation, one of the men admits he date raped Amy a decade ago. The other claims to now have proof that this happened.
What ensues is a high-stakes storyline that examines questions of motive, memory, truth and perception.
More importantly, the fictional plot line delves into a real-life issue that’s exploded of late with multiple celebrities getting outed as abusers by the #MeToo movement, said Ignition Theatre’s artistic director, Matt Grue.
He admitted the play’s timeliness is one of the main reasons he chose to stage Tape at the Nickle Studio from April 18 to 27.
“I made a conscious decision to try to program something topical.”
Tape was written and is set in 1999. The fact it still feels “so present is both incredibly disheartening, but also an opportunity for us to use history to hopefully… provoke some kind of meaningful change,” added Grue.
He feels the play — which is equal parts black comedy, unsettling drama and thriller — is contributing to conversations happening around the country about the treatment of women in this changing social climate.
With Ignition veterans in the three roles (Christopher Schulz is Vincent, Christoff Lundgren is Jon and Tilly Van Keule is Amy), most of the challenges Grue faces come from the production side.
Since the storyline would work very well on television or film, he feels the need to create “hyper realism” on stage.
“It’s a design challenge, (as well as) a performance and directing challenge … that we’ll be negotiating right up until opening night.”
While Grue doesn’t like to prescribe what people take away from the play, he hopes Tape “gives us pause for thought” — especially about the question of who is controlling the narrative of these sexual abuse experiences.
Often we hear these stories told by the media from the perspective of activists, and even the perpetrators trying to do damage control, but victims seldom are heard from, said Grue.
He believes Tape could help rebalance the scale.
For tickets and more information, visit www.ignitiontheatre.ca.