The artistic director and co-writer of a play based on the aftermath of the Elizabeth Wettlaufer case is trying to allay fears over the content of the production.
Gil Garratt says the play is not about the serial killer nurse but is instead about long-term care in the province.
He says it’s a story of love conquering trauma and the importance of dialogue.
He also notes that the play was developed with input from victims’ families.
“Certainly things that people were worried about were things like: Is this going to glorify Elizabeth Wettlaufer? Are we going to sensationalize her crimes? Is this going to be ‘The Elizabeth Wettlaufer story’?” said Garratt.
“We very quickly were able to say, ‘Well, no, that’s not the focus at all, and what we’re really trying to look at is what the impact of this is.’ And I think, in that way, we were trying to amplify the public inquiry.”
One of the family members is Daniel Silcox, whose father James Silcox was murdered by Wettlaufer in 2007.
“I’d like this play to be a part of my father’s legacy,” said Silcox.
“I don’t want him to go out as a victim of Elizabeth Wettlaufer. I want him to go out as a war hero, a wonderful father, and somebody who in his own small way contributed to an improved long-term care industry.”
But Susan Horvath says if her health allows, she’ll be outside picketing the Blyth Festival Theatre north of London on next month’s opening night of “In the Wake of Wettlaufer.”
She says the show is reopening wounds from the death of her father, 75-year-old Arpad Horvath.
“It’s an opportunity for them to make money off of the devastation of victims who truly and sincerely are hurt about what has happened.”
WATCH: Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s victim’s daughter calls for political change
When asked this morning about those with objections, Garratt told 980 CFPL — without naming names — that it boils down to misunderstanding.
“I have extended the invitation to this person a number of times and she’s made her own choices about that and I respect those choices,” he explained.
“I also recognize that this is not going to be for everyone. There are people who feel they can’t engage with this material right now and I think they should protect themselves and avoid it. For those who would choose to be present and bear witness and be a part of that conversation, I really look forward to welcoming people to the theatre in August.”
“In the Wake of Wettlaufer” runs from August 7 to September 6 at the Blyth Festival Theatre.
— with files from The Canadian Press.