An online petition is calling for a Toronto theatre company to cancel an upcoming play based on the interrogation of convicted sex killer Russell Williams.
On March 3, the One Little Goat Theatre Company plans to premier “Smyth/Williams,” with an all female cast that will alternate the roles of the interrogating officer and Williams through the cast.
Williams, a former colonel at 8-Wing CFB Trenton is currently serving two life sentences after he was convicted in October 2010 of first degree-murder in the sex slayings of 37-year-old Marie France Comeau of Brighton and 27-year-old Jessica Lloyd of Belleville. Williams also pleaded guilty to 82 fetish break and enters and thefts as well as two sexual assaults.
In an earlier report by the Canadian Press, the company’s artistic director, Adam Seelig, said he got the idea for the play in 2010, when Williams’ case and his confession to Ontario Police Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth was making headlines. Seeling said he was amazed at the time by Smyth’s ingenuity and chilled by Williams’ matter-of-fact confessions to heinous crimes – all strong material for a theatrical performance. The article goes on to say Seelig said he only felt moved to make the play a reality after noticing what he called a recent urgency around the issue of violence against women particularly against women in the military.
The petition asks the theatre company to consider that its rights of free speech and artist expression ‘do not outweigh the rights of family members and friends’.
“Individuals who are being re-traumatized by the very idea that people are selling tickets to a direct verbatim re-telling of our friend’s tragic death. It is disgusting and inhumane… The very existence of this play is re-traumatizing the friends, families, and communities who were affected by this tragedy.”
“The women we lost here did not consent to this. Nor did their families. The company is arguing the play is intended to create awareness of the issue of violence against women. Yet, written by a male. Men telling stories of male violence does not help women. This is an amplification and exploitation of violent acts.”
The petition can be found by clicking here.