2020 Wildside Recap: ‘Wah Wah Wah’

Special Festival Coverage

After premiering her first full-length theatrical work at the 2019 SummerWorks Performance Festival, for which she received the Theatre Centre’s Emerging Artist Award, Toronto’s Celia Jade Green revives Wah Wah Wah – an autobiographical piece on sexual harassment – at the Centaur Theatre‘s 23rd Wildside Festival from January 9th to 12th, 2020.

A catcall from down the sidewalk… a gaze held for a second too long… a sudden hand against the nape of the neck. The unwanted contact occurs, and “the thing” is swiftly silenced and swooshed under the rug.

Shame and doubt sweep and settle in. Does this even count? Did anything even happen? Or is the transgression all in my head?

Then, when the micro-moments of harassment are deemed by the powers to be too commonplace for individual care and too inconsequential for corrective action, the outcry just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

Created and performed by Celia Jade Green, Wah Wah Wah takes an intimate look at such “seemingly small” sexual violations experienced by young women – pointedly, the disconcerting grey area interactions that comprise the harassment pandemic of every day life – and their fears in reporting them. In 60 minutes, the queer artist shares anecdotes from a semester of backpacking solo across Europe, culminating in a breath-stopping retelling of a particularly perplexing incident with a male teacher in her hometown of Toronto. Through creative text and contemporary movement choreography, she attempts to communicate the uncommunicable, expressing the pain and discomfort of a universally dismissed trauma.

It’s a poignant, honest performance that captures the subtle emotions of routine intimidation. Green’s sharp physical work is among the most striking aspects of the piece, fully controlled at times and wildly visceral at others. The jagged, explosive, and distorted visuals are evocative of internal wounds of inflicted objectification. There is an understated quality – a pull as opposed to a push force – to Wah Wah Wah that elicits an undivided listen. And we do. Right to and beyond its urgent final question.

The right to wail is reclaimed in this piercing production featuring a most potent emerging voice in Canadian theatre (who, after a postponed opening in Montreal, emerged from sudden illness to engage an attentive Friday night audience. We wish a most speedy post-run recovery.)

Stirring and sharp, It’s a solid pick for the Wildside. Two shows remain this Saturday and Sunday.

The 2020 Wildside Festival presents Wah Wah Wah
January 9-12, 2020
Centaur Theatre | 453 St Francois Xavier St.
$16 Adults | $13 Students/Seniors/Under 30s
514-288-3161 | www.centaurtheatre.com

For more 2020 Wildside Festival Recaps, visit: 

Camila Fitzgibbon

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