Jerk: exploring the pervert in all of us

Director Gisèle Vienne says she doesn’t judge, but is convinced we are all perverts and at times have a weird fascination with the horrific nature of mankind.

Gisele VienneTake American serial killer Dean Corll as an example. Corll, along with his accomplices David Brooks and Wayne Henley, kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered more than twenty, and as many as 42, teen boys in Texas in the mid-70s. According to Vienne, it is this strange obsession we have with people like Corll that she found so compelling and drove her to explore this obsession in Jerk based on the novel by Dennis Cooper.

“We are all perverts somehow,” says Vienne. “The media goes as far into the horrors of a story as they can because we have this weird fascination, but we take a sort of perverted pleasure in wanting to go even deeper into the horror.”

And it isn’t just what Vienne calls “extreme people” that have this fascination with this type of story. Vienne says it is within all of us and we just need to stop the moral judgment that surrounds this fascination.

Described as an “imaginary reconstruction of the Corll murders”, this one-person play is told through the eyes of Corll’s accomplice David Brooks (played by actor Jonathan Capedevielle) who reenacts the Corll murders for a class of psychology students using puppets.

Why puppets? While it certainly helps that both Vienne and Capdevielle, are professionally trained puppeteers, Vienne says there is much more to it.

“Glove puppetry was created in the 18th century and was meant to be subversive,” said Vienne, “and this method of storytelling works well with the horrific and violent nature of the Jerk text.”

Vancouver’s annual PuSh Festival has never shied away from pushing the envelope of art and from all indications Jerk will be no exception.  And while Vienne claims she and her team never consciously set out to create a controversial piece or one which has such an emotional impact on an audience, she does see it as a necessary alternative to what she describes as “light fare”.

“Dark and heavy is not a negative and can be very pleasurable,” concluded Vienne. “Jerk deals with depth and darkness in a complex and intense way, but as a pleasurable experience.”

Jerk
2010 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
January 18-24, 2010
Vivo Media Arts Centre

Visit http://pushfestival.ca for tickets and information.

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