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Harbourfront cancels play after gripes

Robert Crew

Harbourfront has cancelled a controversial play that included a scene in which a scantily dressed woman with a riding crop verbally attacked the audience.

The decision to cancel this weekend’s performances of DNA Theatre’s Give Us This Day Our Daily Pound was made yesterday after complaints from the public after a rehearsal.

The free, environmental show was to have been held in and around Harbourfront’s Water’s Edge Cafe as part of the du Maurier World Stage festival.

DNA Theatre was asked to make adjustments to “some of the offensive and confrontational material” in the show, but director Hillar Liitoja refused, festival assistant Nigel Hunt said yesterday.

“The Water’s Edge is a public space and we can’t afford to have people’s health threatened.”

But Liitoja said that the cuts Harbourfront had demanded would mean “junking the whole show. We were taken aback at the enormity of their demands.”

The cuts included a passage in which a schoolmarm gave dictation to the audience, a scene featuring a woman in a corset and another involving the woman with the riding crop, he said.

The company had announced this was an environmental show and invited anyone who was offended to leave.

“We were hired to perform in this location,” Liitoja said. “Harbourfront did not post any notices to announce that this was a rehearsal. They did not live up to their end of the deal.”

Replying to Harbourfront claims that chairs had been thrown into the pond outside the cafe, Liitoja said the chairs had been placed in the water as part of the set.

Toronto Star
June 11, l988