Matthew Payne as the police officer and Jessica Lowry as Billi star in Secret/e, a powerful drama playing Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 at the Intrepid Theatre Club. Photo by Derek Ford

Criminal injustices come alive on stage in Secret/e

Criminalization of HIV among themes in Rick Waines’ story, opening Nov. 27 at Intrepid Theatre Club

By Tim Ford

Monday Magazine contributor

When Rick Waines was diagnosed with HIV, he thought his life was over.

“I found out in ‘87,” he says. “At that point, the writing was on the wall. Everyone was dying at that time.”

Yet in living with this terrible disease, Waines found himself connecting with fellow patients and a community of people that shared the same fear and anxiety he was experiencing. It was in working with that community Waines found his love of theatre, and among those experiences he credits a night at Morris Panych’s “The Cost of Living” as one of the defining moments in his future career.

“I fell in love with using stories to talk about how I felt about HIV and my own experiences,” Waines says.

Since 1987, he has worked both on stage and behind the scenes, acting with companies like Green Thumb Theatre (and earning a Jesse Richardson Award in the process). He has also provided live descriptions of plays, concerts and other events for people with vision loss as a VocalEye describer.

Through many of those years though, Waines had another career shift in mind: writing a new play.

In Secret/e, a project Waines has been working on since the early 2000s, he tells the story of a sexual assault victim who suddenly and strangely finds herself under criminal investigation.

“I wish I had gotten away from that ‘outline monkey,’” he says with a laugh, referring to a years-long routine he went through of “outlining” the show while procrastinating on writing it. “That first day of rehearsals is gonna be pretty exciting.”

The production, starring Jessica Lowry, Kett Turton and Matthew Payne, shows at the Intrepid Theatre Club from Nov. 27 – Dec. 1.

Waines is keeping the final plot that resulted from that whole process a pretty close “Secret/e,” but he says a key theme of the show is the criminalization of HIV. “I think our criminal justice system is operating with a manual that isn’t necessarily built to help people.”

Canadian law, he explains, still allows the prosecution of people with HIV who fail to disclose their condition to sexual partners. In 2012 the Supreme Court of Canada held that “the criminal law imposes a duty on a person to disclose HIV positive status before sexual activity that poses a “realistic possibility of transmission” so that the HIV negative sexual partner has the opportunity to choose whether to assume the risk of being infected with HIV.”

For Waines, that punitive measure has only further harmed people, rather than protected them. “Who’s in jail? Marginalized communities,” he says. “Who has disproportionately been the victims of criminalization? Indigenous women.”

Despite the heavy subject material, Waines wants people above all to come away entertained, and ready to talk. “I hope we end up with folks who’ve never thought of it,” he says. “What I hope is I’ve built something that is a good ride.”

Tickets for Secret/e are $10 and $20 are available online at eventbrite.ca.



editor@mondaymag.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ongoing Saanich Schools strike forces production of ‘Matilda the Musical’ to Esquimalt High

Four Seasons Musical Theatre had to find alternative venue for production

Victoria artist Blu Smith’s art evolves, as he does

From pop art to realism to abstract and more, successful artist follows his muse

Sadness makes for beautiful musical theatre

Puente Theatre brings Fringe Festival hit Fado back for four-show run at Metro Theatre, Nov. 14-16

Heads up! A new take on A Christmas Carol coming to the Mac

Wonderheads tackle the beloved Dickens classic, Dec. 17-18 at Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse

Jon and Roy’s Holiday Special always a hot ticket

Multi-act Dec. 6 concert at the Royal virtually sold out, cozy, chill vibe will prevail

Disney Plus streaming service hits Canada with tech hurdles

Service costs $8.99 per month, or $89.99 per year, in Canada

Remembrance Day services: where to pay your respects in Greater Victoria

Memorial events happening around the region on Nov. 11

It’s a Mexican culinary celebration in Victoria!

Taco, Tequila and Margarita Fiesta takes over the Victoria Public Market the evening of Nov. 16

Golden Globes to honour TV pioneer Ellen DeGeneres

DeGeneres to receive the Carol Burnett Award on Jan. 5

Most Read