Victim's daughter upset by Wettlaufer play
By Denny Scott
While the creative team behind the Blyth Festival’s In The Wake of Wettlaufer has connected with several family members of the victims of confessed serial killer Elizabeth Wettlaufer in the creation of the upcoming play, not all connected with the event are happy about the production.
Susan Horvath, the daughter of 75-year-old Wettlaufer victim Arpad Horvath, has taken to YouTube to express her concern with the play.
Horvath claims that the play will be in “hurtful taste” and bring up pain for those connected to the murders, as well as senior citizens in general.
In an interview with The Citizen on Monday, Horvath said that, first and foremost, she wasn’t
speaking for herself, but for a “substantial” constituency of people who believe the play shouldn’t be produced.
In her nearly-12 minute video, which was uploaded last week, she says that her family’s loss, alongside their involvement with Wettlaufer’s trial, has left her suffering multiple maladies.
She says that the play, like the recent inquiry caused by the Wettlaufer murders, will make her relive the incident.
Horvath states she plans on protesting the play as well as seeking legal action against it.
During the interview, Horvath explained that she disagreed with those working with the Festival for the play, pointing out that one is her brother.
She said the play is too soon, too close to home and, having been announced late last year, was rushed to creation, in her opinion, for financial gain.
Horvath said that the play wouldn’t generate the kind of discussion necessary to influence decision makers, so it was made only for financial gain and to sell tickets.
She said she is familiar with the Blyth Festival and its works, and says that great theatre is made in Blyth, but said the inspiration behind this play misses the mark and is “immoral and pretty sad.”
“It’s opening new wounds and triggering old pain,” she said.
Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt, in an interview with The Citizen on Monday, said that he saw Horvath’s video and found it “heartbreaking.”
He explained that the video touches on many of the points that are a central concern for those creating the play.
“The play is about the impact of Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s heinous acts on all people in Ontario and Canada,” he said. “We can’t go forward without discussing it.”
In creating the play, Garratt and creator and co-writer Kelly McIntosh hope to keep not only Wettlaufer, but the fallout from her actions in the public discourse.
Garratt said that the murders and following court case and inquiry, have unveiled some serious concerns about the state of longterm care, and, despite that, Ontario continues to see cuts across the province, resulting in hundreds of nurses being laid off.
Because of the reality that Ontario is faced with, he feels it is important the play goes forward.
Garratt also explained that the play doesn’t deal with Wettlaufer’s actions directly, or with actual families involved in the case.
“There are no families portrayed, no victims portrayed and her crimes aren’t depicted,” he said. “The play is far more universal than that. It’s about a fictional family grappling with a parallel experience.”
The play fits the mission of the Blyth Festival, Garratt said, by giving voice to the area and the country, and to ignore such an important story, that was enormous not only in this region but in the country as well, would be ignoring that mission.
“We have a duty to engage those ideas,” he said.
Garratt and McIntosh have been working closely with relatives of the victims, and he says they did reach out to Horvath through her lawyer last month, and respect her decision to not participate in the creation of the play.
That said, he is encouraged by the words of those who chose to be a part of the creation of the play, highlighting a statement from Daniel Silcox, another relative of one of Wettlaufer’s victims.
“There is a need for the story to be told about the struggles that take place within a family during the placement of their elderly parents into Long Term Care,” he said. “From what I know of [Garratt and McIntosh] and the insights [they] have gained through family interviews and other research, I am confident it will be presented in a sensitive, yet powerful way.
“I thank both [Garratt and McIntosh] for being so open and eager to discuss [the] project,” he said.
For more information on the play, visit blythfestival.com.