Thursday, May 23, 2024

Victoria theatre company forced to cancel remaining showings of play due to controversy


Theatre Inconnu, an amateur theatre company based in the Fernwood Community Association building, has been forced to cancel the remaining showings of a play that has been running.

The play Sisters completed 11 of its 15 showings before the Fernwood Community Association decided to pull the plug on the play.

Sisters is a play that was written 30-years-ago by Canadian playwright Wendy Lill that “explores the topic of First Nations residential school abuse from a challenging perspective,” according to Theatre Inconnu’s website. 

The story is told through a nun’s perspective while working within the residential schooling system.

“We see how the system, and her fellow workers, transform this caring soul into an abusive contributor to the suffering of her wards,” the play’s description reads. 

According to the theatre company, the play had been protested by some who were upset to have this story being told through the lens of the oppressor. 

On Wednesday, March 6th, Theatre Inconnu posted to their Facebook, “PROTEST SHUTS DOWN THE RUN OF SISTERS.”

“Our landlord has just officially informed us that they will not be allowing us to continue the run of Sisters,” they continued. 

Before the final four showings could take place, the Fernwood Community Association Board of Directors published a statement to their website to explain why they had decided to cancel their tenant’s play. 

“Our decision to cancel the remainder of the showings of Sisters was a challenging decision made after much deliberation,” the board wrote. 

“This decision was made to make space for listening and ensure the safety of everyone in our building and community.”

They expressed that they know how challenging this decision would be for those involved in putting on the play and stated they want to continue the conversation around this play after having some time to re-evaluate. 

The board said they intend on listening to the concerns from the community—especially from the Indigenous community who’s trauma surrounding residential schools are still impacting them today. 

“This is the first time our board has faced something like this and we’re all learning the best path forward together and working in kindness with each other while doing so,” the board continued.

“When many people come to us with complaints of harm against an oppressed group in our society from something happening in our building, it is our responsibility to act quickly and decisively.”

The Fernwood Community Association say they want to “learn and grow together” with the Theatre Inconnu staff and performers and intend on furthering this discussion with an Indigenous facilitator.


Back in January, a similar situation occurred in Victoria when the Belfry Theatre cancelled a show that was to open in March called The Runner. 

The Runner is a play written by a Canadian playwright that told the story of strife between Israel and Palestine through an Israeli lens. 

Pro-Palestinian protesters were upset that the show was scheduled due to the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people, following the tragic October 7th Hamas attack on innocent Israeli citizens. 

The protesters did stand-ins at the theatre and defaced the front steps before the Belfry decided to cancel the play. 

Following this, another theatre company in Vancouver who intended on putting on the play decided they would pull the plug on The Runner as well. 

Curtis Blandy

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