Under the direction of Andrea Donaldson, the World Premiere of Erin Shields’ Soliciting Temptation is expected to open this coming Wednesday, April 9, at Tarragon Theatre. The play tackles the horrors and realities of the sex tourism industry, issues of desire and morality, and what happens when a man vacationing in a developing country meets with a young woman, for sex, and they get to talking.
Shields states that the most surprising thing she learned when writing this play is “how complicated human beings are. What I find endlessly fascinating is the desire for pleasure, for pain…the desire to expose and be exposed is infinite and it causes us, as human beings, to do many different things…to make ourselves feel something.”
The play is inspired by a CBC interview with Cheryl Perera, a student from Brampton, Ontario, who began looking into the issue of child sex tourism for a school project and became determined to make a difference. She teamed up with The National Child Protection Authority of Sri Lanka to pose as a child prostitute, in order to lure a pedophile. She later created the organization, One Child, in order to raise funds for exploited children.
Shields was inspired by this story and it provoked her own interest in researching the sex tourism industry. “It just sparked something in me,” Shields states. She began the creation of this play that promotes awareness of this industry and the dangers it involves.
When speaking about her expectations when going to the theatre, and when writing her own work, Shields declares: “A transformative experience is certainly what I desire when I go to the theatre. I want to be taken somewhere, but also be conscious about who I am in the world…theatre at its best, for me, takes hold of your guts and your mind and doesn’t let go the entire time. That’s the type of theatre I aspire to make”.
Shields illuminates the fact that sex and sexuality is a recurring theme in her writing and that she is deeply interested in the body as a part of humanity, and our relationships to our bodies. “Sex and sexuality can be a very positive and elating experience,” Shields says. “It can also be the most painful and destructive force in our lives.” This is precisely what Shields explores in Soliciting Temptation.
What can audiences expect from Soliciting Temptation? To be able to think deeply about the sex tourism industry and all whom it involves, and leave the play with questions about all human beings – to be inspired, but also disturbed. “I hope that [the audience] goes on a journey with the actors,” Shields expresses. “It’s quite a complicated journey and it’s full of some gut wrenching experiences. I don’t want to provide answers or ideas. I want to raise questions. I hope people go away having been provoked.”
Soliciting Temptation is running at Tarragon Theatre’s Extraspace from April 9th to May 4th, 2014. For tickets and more information visit http://tarragontheatre.com/.