March 25, 2021

Theatre@York’s ‘Mortified’ is an Immersive Virtual Experience

A drop of water spashing theatre at york presents mortified by amy rutherford
Mortified by Amy Rutherford

Theatre @ York presents Mortified by Amy Rutherford, directed by MFA Directing candidate Mandy Roveda. Cast, rehearsed, designed, and recorded remotely, the show brings together a cohort of students adapting to new circumstances and has morphed into a dynamic augmented audio experience.

Playwright Amy Rutherford describes Mortified as the story of a woman who runs into her former abuser and is surprised by the power he still holds over her. In an attempt to uncover the truth of what happened between them, she recalls her adolescent self: a 14-year-old synchronized swimmer, struggling to make sense of the world around her. Humorous and dark, Mortified explores sex, shame and transformation and how we reckon with the traumatic experiences that have shaped us. Through either the auditory, visual, or combination experience, the audience will have the opportunity to personally curate how they explore and immerse themselves in the world and story of Mortified.

“This year our students have shown an amazing ability to improvise in response to the many challenges of COVID-19,” asserts department chair Marlis Schweitzer. “Mortified is a testament to the creativity, flexibility, and tenacity of our students, faculty, and staff. I am incredibly proud of all they’ve achieved and I salute director Mandy Roveda for her innovative approach to directing Amy Rutherford’s important play.”

“Stories of adolescent female sexuality are uncommon,” observes Rutherford. “Without context or a place for reflection, girls are left to make sense of a troubling world that at once silences and fetishizes them. If a girl is abused, she is often left to deal with it on her own for fear of being judged, excommunicated from her ‘tribe,’ or society at large. This shame can persist and thrive in the form of keeping secrets, self-contempt and doubt, and the existential shame of simply being alive.” For Rutherford, Mortified explores the “very human experience of feeling inhuman,” but resists the traps of victim narratives. “I do not wish to perpetuate the idea of girls as victims,” she affirms. “I would like to acknowledge the potential and power of this early time of life: full of transformation, discovery, adventure, curiosity, desire and aliveness.”

Mandy Roveda
Mandy Roveda

It was the human aspect of the play that most attracted director Mandy Roveda. “The insidious long-term effects of shame is something I connected to on a very personal level. I, like many, have a complicated relationship with my younger self and exploring the relationship between Woman and Girl as they connect and attempt to heal was very exciting,” says Roveda.

Mortified features 13 students from the fourth-year acting ensemble. All elements of sound, media, and digital content are designed and executed by undergraduate Theatre students, with support from staff, faculty, and professional experts. Early in the production process students received training in recording techniques, foley creation, and post-production skills from YorkU alumni Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley, Artistic Directors of Expect Theatre and producers of the celebrated CBC podcast, PlayME.

Amy Rutherford is a playwright and performer who has worked for over twenty years with many of Canada’s leading theatre artists. She has written several plays: The Public Servant, Out of the Woods and Mortified which won The PGC’s Carol Bolt Award and will be published this year.

Mandy Roveda (she/her) is a performer, director and educator with a passion for new works and creating in surprising spaces. Her current research focus is on reimagining theatre teaching methodologies and challenging traditional rehearsal practices.

Content Advisory:

This production of Mortified by Amy Rutherford contains adult themes including, but not limited to: audio enactments of violence, sexual assault, coarse and misogynistic language, systemic ableism, self-harm, eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, childhood cancer, and abortion. This production also contains both low and high-frequency sounds played at a higher volume, as well as sudden loud noises. If you have any questions or would like more specific information regarding the content of this production, please contact: mortifiedcontentadvising@gmail.com

Ticket Information:

Tickets can be reserved on https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/mortified-by-amy-rutherford-a-theatre-york-student-production-registration-144270327433

 Mortified will be available to listen to anytime, anywhere from March 30TH, 2021 7:30pm  – April 5th, 2021 11:59p.m. Attendees will receive an email on the day before opening (March 29th), and the day of the play (March 30th) with instructions on how to access the play. Reservations made after the opening day will receive access information via email within 24 hours of the reservation.

All tickets are free of charge, however the cast and crew of Mortified are encouraging listeners to

support three groups that are doing incredible work across Canada. Indspire, a foundation that supports Indigenous students through post-secondary education, and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice; as well as Nellie’s, an organization that operates programs and services for women and children who experience oppressions such as violence, poverty, and homelessness.