Saskatchewan

Play about domestic violence depicts reality, including the good part of bad relationships

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a play about domestic violence but it's also full of humour, introspection, reflection and heart.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear playing at Globe Theatre until Feb. 9

Exit, Pursued by a Bear explores the abusive relationship that Nan Carter endures at the doing of her partner, Kyle. (Shutterstock)

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a play about domestic violence but it's also full of humour, introspection, reflection and heart.

The play opened in Regina at the Globe Theatre last week and will run until Feb. 9. The final performance will be immediately followed by a panel to discuss intimate partner violence.

"Theatre has this power of putting us in the room with experiences and being close to them and with other humans," said director Judy Wensel. 

"When you are watching Exit, Pursued by a Bear, you are in direct relationship, physically, with a human who is experiencing something that, in another context it may be very easy to turn away, because it is so uncomfortable."

On now at Regina's Globe Theatre, the play explores the theme of intimate partner violence, but not in the way you might expect. It's actually a dark comedy. Host Shauna Powers speaks to the play's director, Judy Wensel, along with Crystal Geisbrecht from PATHs. 13:00

In the play, main character Nan works her way to recovery from the abuse inflicted upon her by her partner Kyle.

Wensel describes the abusive character as a poacher who embodies the negativity of masculinity but also as a complex individual who is also loved and charming in ways.

Kyle's positive qualities are what make the character Nan think there is room for hope and salvaging the relationship.

"Sometimes, the relationship itself is the reason why someone doesn't want to leave because the person can be good," said Crystal Giesbrecht, director of research and communications for the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS).

Giesbrecht said the play captured subtle aspects of domestic violence and the red flags in Kyle's behaviour, such as animal abuse and a disregard for laws and societal norms.

Giesbrecht said education and awareness are needed to address domestic violence in the province.

Saskatchewan had 5,976 cases of intimate partner violence reported to police in 2015. The provincial rate of 666 cases per 100,000 people was highest in the nation.

Prince Edward Island had the lowest rate at 197 per 100,000, according to Statistics Canada.

"Every time the issue of intimate partner violence is in the media or it's portrayed in a piece of theater, it's used in art:
I think it prompts conversations," Giesbrecht said. 

"That goes a really long way to lessening some of the stigma, to making it okay to talk about."

Tickets are available at the Globe Theatre.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend