Arts & Culture

Gross Misconduct tackles #MeToo topics

By Lorraine Graves

Published 4:42 PDT, Wed March 13, 2019

Richmond Gateway Theatre’s upcoming production, Gross Misconduct, promises an intimate experience for the theatre-goer as they address big issues, ones often not discussed in local dramas.

As director Kayvon Khoshkam says of this SpeakEasy Theatre’s production, Gross Misconduct is in Gateway’s Studio B, which is very intimate. I’ve reconfigured the space to be in the round, trying to bring people into the space, to make it as intimate as possible.”

While the play is in Richmond, Khoshkam is a Prairie boy with drama awards in the hall cases of Evan Hardy Collegiate in Saskatoon. For many years, he has also been a regular at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach each summer, both as a performer and as a much-loved teacher in the Young Shakespearians acting school.

But, a change is in the wind, Khoshkam says.

“This coming year, I’m going to be assistant director for ‘Shakespeare in Love’ on the big stage at Bard.”

And, while the upcoming Gateway play he’s directing is local, the theme is as universal, and timely, as Shakespeare’s work.

“This is a new script, a new play by Meghan Gardiner. She’s been developing and writing it for approximately seven years. Her work is quite strong,” Khoshkam says.

Richmond audiences know Gardiner from her most recent acting appearance in the meaningful and humorous “I Lost my Husband” at Gateway Theatre last season.

Of “Gross Misconduct” Khoshkam says: “Sexual violence is not just a women’s issue but is a men’s issue too. We have to feel the culpability and responsibility of our role in this vast systemic issue.

“It cannot be enough that women are the ones speaking against it. Men too have to be speaking to each other about how this has to stop and why is it happening from our end.”

While he’s clear that theatre-goers shouldn’t look for a lot of comic relief in this work, he says there are a lot of different dynamics in the work.

The play is set inside Millhaven Institution, a maximum security federal prison in Ontario.

Director Khoshkam describes the plot: “Now in his early 50s, Deke has been in Millhaven without a cell mate for the past 20 years. He is surprised and annoyed when Corey, a 20-something rich kid, joins him in his cell. As a complicated bond slowly forms between the two unlikely cellmates, tensions rise as they debate the nature of their crimes, and the men must re-evaluate how they see each other after the true nature of their respective crimes is revealed. As Corey begs Deke for protection inside the prison, Deke is faced with a moral dilemma and is brought face-to-face with a decision he made 20 years ago.”

“Gross Misconduct” rings familiar for director Khoshkam.

“I first encountered the play as an actor when four years ago, I was in a workshop and read the role of Corey, the young inmate. It is a very interesting evolution to be the director. There’s been enough time to see it with a more mature perspective now. It’s certainly good at least having time to live inside a role Meghan (Gardiner) created, before taking on the role of helping her build it.”

Khoshkam offers: “I’d like to impress upon the audience that this is a one act play with no intermission but the audience dialogue and the guest speakers and facilitators afterwards are an integral part of the experience. I really invite them to stay and share their thoughts with other members of the community.”

Khoshkam points out that true change in a society takes individuals reflecting on their own long-held beliefs and values, sometimes challenging assumptions that underpin their actions and attitudes.

Now, with three years as artistic director of this theatre company under his belt, and now as director of this world premiere, Khoshkam says “There is no answer in this play but a great deal of questions being put forward. It’s a very necessary and pertinent subject matter for our time.”

Gross Misconduct opens March 14 and runs through March 23 in Gateway’s Studio B.

For tickets phone the Gateway box office or check their website.

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