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A Particular Class of Women: North Van theatre breaks stereotypes
WARNING: This play is more risqué than the North Shore is accustomed too.
Inspired by a real-life 1985 Ontario court case where a judge minimized a crime against a stripper, insisting the victim was "from a particular class of women whose profession it is to promote lust," A Particular Class of Women portrays the world of a 1980s strip club.
"She was assaulted… and the judge thought 'Well, I guess she kind of had this coming," says Flora Karas, who plays Pink Champagne, a stripper who escaped communist Poland with a steadfast dream of becoming a famous movie star.
"But strippers are females who just happen to be strippers. They are mothers, daughters, scholars, lesbians — high quality, high moraled ladies that aren't all victims."
The honest, sexy and sometimes crass play by Janet Feindel, presented by Vancouver-based NeverYouMind Productions, is showing at Presentation House Theatre from Feb. 18 to 23.
The eight lively women, each with their own reason to choose the profession of stripping, show an intimate and eye-opening view of performing at The Cabaret Circus, a semi-seedy strip club in Toronto.
"I've had former strippers come up to me and say 'thank you for this, it means a lot to me," says Karas, broadly comparing the production to Pretty Women and Moulin Rouge.
"This play deconstructs stereotypes. When you say stripper, there are a whole bunch of associations, but rarely mother, nurturer, animal activist, immigrant.
"It's a wake-up call that everything with a label has a story behind it."
Simultaneously funny and serious, the experiences in A Particular Class of Women are still relevant today.
"Things change, but very slowly. I still believe that women are seen objects, as opposed to subjects, when it comes to sexuality," says Karas, NeverYouMind Productions' artistic director and co-creator.
"But I truly believes humans want more than just shallow stereotypes, and this play has that."
A Particular Class of Women shows at Presentation House Theatre, 333 Chesterfield Ave., North Van, Feb. 18 to 22 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets: phtheatre.org.