GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY POUND

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Complaints cancel theatre production

H.J.Kirchhoff

Give Us This Day Our Daily Pound, A DNA Theatre production for the Harbourfront World Stage, has been cancelled following complaints from the public after Thursday night’s dress rehearsal.

The show, which was to have played in Harbourfront’s pond area yesterday, today and tomorrow, was an experimental work based on the poems of Ezra Pound. The complaints came from people in the cafe section, who were “insulted, offended and harassed” by cast members, said World Stage assistant programmer Nigel Hunt yesterday. He added that the show was to have stayed outside in the pond area, and not moved into the cafe, “which is a public space.”

“It was very confrontational,” Hunt said of the piece, directed by DNA founder and artistic director Hillar Liitoja. "After the dress rehearsal we asked Hillar to make some changes, and he said no."

“I’ve seen a lot of what DNA does,” Hunt said, “and I appreciate what they do ... But there are certain things they couldn’t do at Harbourfront because of the nature of the place ... A lot of it was very daring for Harbourfront, and wonderfully beautiful. I’m sorry they blew the opportunity to be seen by a lot of people.”

DNA’s administrator, Adrian Foster, said, “There was nothing wrong with the stuff they wanted us to change. There was no foul language and no nudity.”

Foster said that originally DNA had been assured the cafe space could be used, and that there should have been no surprises in the “interactive” theatre piece.

He said the changes demanded by Harbourfront would have affected half the length of the show, and involved five “insulters,” a cast member playing “schoolmarm” to the cafe’s patrons “and the two women in lingerie – not nude, not see-through, merely alluring.” There were 26 cast members and six crew members in the show.

“Essentially, Harbourfront knew what it was getting ... they knew it would be loud; they know the work we do.”

The Globe and Mail
June 11, 1988