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Room Six 

Hardened criminals pick a side in the prison play Room Six

click to enlarge One life to shiv
  • One life to shiv

If you only see one play with impeccably choreographed fight scenes this Fringe, make it Room Six. Six women negotiate the rising tension in a pressure cooker of a small cell after a riot, revealing secrets, breaking down and forging tenuous truces, making for a politically-charged play.

"The play was a concept Juliana Fombona brought to me," says co-director Colleen MacIsaac. "We'd spoken about writing a show together that had some strong roles for women, and she came up with the concept of six female prisoners trapped in a room together."

MacIsaac directed with Alison House and Fombona plays one of the prisoners, alongside Linda Carvery, Rebecca Currie Morrison, Juanita Peters, Ashley Marie Pike and Schoel Strang.

Though the play primarily deals with the interpersonal relationships of the women, the playwrights drew from larger issues. "In terms of what's been happening in Canada with the prison system, we are on our way to becoming similar to the United States. Though the play is focused on the characters and their stories, the situations are all based on research," says MacIsaac. "Power often gets abused in prisons to extreme levels, but similar situations can arise in day-to-day life when women have less power."

And the tension rarely breaks. Even after an explosive fight scene, the tiny cell the women occupy is like a powder keg waiting to be tipped off.

"It was very important to us to be able to tell the stories of women who are not often heard---minorities, women who have mental illnesses, women whom the system has failed---and to bring them all together. We started researching the experiences that real women have had in prison. There was so much to draw from, and so many saddening and eye-opening stories, from there it was just about creating a narrative that these stories would emerge out of." --Stephanie Johns


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