DIRTY BUT­TER­FLY

NOW Magazine - Fringe - - Fringe Preview - JON KA­PLAN

Do­mes­tic abuse doesn’t just af­fect those im­me­di­ately in­volved; its col­lat­eral dam­age spreads like rip­ples in a pond. In Ja­maican-British play­wright Deb­bie Tucker Green’s

Dirty But­ter­fly, ten­e­ment neigh­bours Amelia and Ja­son, liv­ing on ei­ther side of the abused Jo, lis­ten to and ab­sorb her pain.

“It’s a dense, gritty, ag­gres­sive world the three are in,” says Cherissa Richards, Amelia in Bound to Cre­ate’s North Amer­i­can pre­miere of the play. “They are ghet­toized, deal­ing with tough prob­lems and un­able to re­al­ize their dreams.

“Amelia keeps try­ing to avoid the vi­o­lence she hears on the other side of the wall, sleep­ing on her sofa, turn­ing her ra­dio up loud or es­cap­ing in the mid­dle of the night to the café where she works as a cleaner.”

But even at work she can’t avoid Jo, who fol­lows her and tries to ex­plain her sit­u­a­tion. By the play’s end, Amelia al­lows her­self to see what’s go­ing on in Jo’s head and un­der- stand how she’s feel­ing. There’s a hint, then, that Amelia will take care of her, at least a lit­tle.

“This is the one of the most drain­ing parts I’ve ev­ery played,” ad­mits the ac­tor, who spent two years at the Shaw Fes­ti­val and last win­ter played op­po­site Seana McKenna in Shaw’s Mrs. War­ren’s Pro­fes­sion in Win­nipeg. “We’re all spent at the end of the day, liv­ing in these peo­ple’s skins, feel­ing the tur­moil in their lives.”

Richards com­pares Green’s writ­ing to Ja­maican dub po­etry.

In re­hearsals, the com­pany dis­cov­ered that “the best way to tackle it is through the rhythm. Sur­pris­ingly, it’s like Shaw’s plays, which can be heady and in­tel­lec­tual on the page. But in the case of both play­wrights, the ma­te­rial comes to life when it’s spo­ken aloud. The over­lap­ping text is lyri­cal though at the same time dense, but the rhythms help you con­nect clearly with the char­ac­ters’ thoughts.”

From July 6 at Theatre Passe Mu­raille Backspace.

Cherissa Richards helps Dirty

But­ter­fly take wing.

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