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Calgary Theatre production explores the underbelly of sex tourism

Soliciting Temptation takes audiences behind seedy closed doors

Actress Patricia Cerra said it took a lot of mental preparation to play the character, an unnamed girl in the sexual tourism trade.

Courtesy Sage Theatre

Actress Patricia Cerra said it took a lot of mental preparation to play the character, an unnamed girl in the sexual tourism trade.

Underage sexual tourism.

Now that I’ve got your attention, you can probably guess we’re about to talk about a heavy topic – one that the minds at Sage Theatre aren’t afraid to tackle.

Their newest production, Soliciting Temptation, presents us with an unnamed, middle-aged while man, who meets an unnamed, young (too young) Eastern girl in a dark situation.

When the girl takes control of the situation, and threatens to expose the man as a pedophile and sexual tourist, shifts of power, class and privilege are explored.

“It’s not a gentle play. It’s does toss you around a bit,” said director Jason Mehmel.  “Both our characters get woken up from some of their preconceptions, by being forced to listen to the ideas of another person.

“That’s also happening to me.”

The production has been eye opening for Mehmel, who said it’s made him more aware of his own privilege in life.

Actress Patricia Cerra did some heavy lifting to prepare for the role mentally. Initially she came into the play with her own opinions, as any audience member would upon hearing the topic, but as she read through the pages she found herself judging both characters. She dug and dived into the grit of the world to discover more about the characters, and herself.

Same with actor Mattie Overall – it’s not easy trying to push aside preconceptions of a character in that situation and play them as a human being, and not a caricature.

By the play’s end, Mehmel hopes to spark a discussion – he doesn’t want them to come away with some specific message like an after school special.

“We’re not giving them a lecture, or asking them to feel a certain way,” he said. “But I do hope as the characters transform, the audience themselves will be slightly transformed, with a difficult, complicated question in their minds.”

Soliciting Temptation runs from Feb. 23 to March 4. For more information, visit www.sagetheatre.com.

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