Terre Haute runs as part of the SummerWorks Theatre Festival from Thurs, Aug 9 to Sun, Aug 19. Lower Ossington Theatre, 100A Ossington Ave. $15. summerworks.ca
Masculinity is seen as sexy, but it’s also one of the most dangerous things in the world. Think of the recent string of high-profile shootings and murders, and then think of who’s committing them. Men. “That kind of hegemonic masculinity,” explains director Alistair Newton, “that is to say, the kind that actively tries to repress any trace of feminine energy, is still a force to be challenged at every turn.” Newton and theatre company Ecce Homo will be confronting these ideas in the Canadian premiere of Terre Haute.
Written by gay literary legend Edmund White, Terre Haute is based on the real-life interaction between another legend, Gore Vidal, and the incarcerated Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. Prior to McVeigh’s execution in 2001, he and Vidal had an on-and-off-again correspondence. “Timothy McVeigh would tell you that he perpetrated a justifiable act of revenge against a tyrannous government when he bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City,” Newton says. “At the same time, George W Bush justified the murder of innocent civilians as ‘collateral damage’ in his war on ‘terror’ and – albeit on a much smaller scale – Police Chief Blair explained away human rights abuses that took place during the G20 by citing public safety.” Throw in Luka Magnotta, the recent Eaton Centre, Scarborough, Aurora and Colorado shootings and here is an all-too-timely story. Newton acknowledges the multiple layers of gay sensibility, with Ecce Homo doing White doing Vidal doing violent masculinity.
“Gore Vidal and Edmund White are two of the great lions of 20th-century queer letters,” Newton explains. “The opportunity to see one titan engaging with another is not to be missed. The play also frankly examines the allure of straight ‘rough trade’ for some gay men. With Terre Haute, Edmund White has managed to write a potent political debate presented as a psycho-sexual thriller.”
Terre Haute runs as part of the SummerWorks theatre festival from Thurs, Aug 9 to Sun, Aug 19. Lower Ossington Theatre, 100A Ossington Ave. $15. summerworks.ca
Follow Michael Lyons on Twitter at @queer_mikey.