Pygmalion Productions Presents Catherine Filloux’s ‘White Savior’


(Photo by Robert Holman | Courtesy Pygmalion Productions)

By Parker Dunn, Online Managing Editor


As the arts and its relationship with COVID-19 continue to progress, more companies in the music, film and theatre industries are acclimating to the new normal. Salt Lake City-based theater company Pygmalion Productions joins these companies in finding ways to survive in the current climate through digital means with their new play titled “White Savior.” 

Written by award-winning and internationally recognized playwright Catherine Filloux, “White Savior” will be recorded and shown online throughout November. The choice to film the show obviously spawned out of adherence to COVID-19 guidelines, and a need to survive in a field typically characterized by in-person productions and large in-proximity audiences.

“This is not our first choice,” said director Fran Pruyn. “It is not a movie and it is not live theatre — it is pandemic theatre.” Though the digital presentation of “White Savior” is not ideal, it is necessary during these unprecedented times. Both Pruyn and Pygmalion continue to stay positive amid the pandemic, viewing their specific situation with optimism. “Fortunately, we can air [the show] to a wide audience and people outside of Utah that have been supporters of the company, who will have an opportunity to engage in new dramatic literature that has been staged.” 

Other positives of the pandemic-theatre production include alleviation of the stress that comes with the technical elements of theatre. “We don’t have to worry about quick costume changes or quick set changes,” said actor Liz Whittaker. “And it’s easy to adjust things in the moment.”

Though there are a plethora of positives coming out of the production of “White Savior,” Pygmalion still faces their fair share of COVID-19 difficulties. “There are two big challenges to acting while safely observing COVID guidelines,” said Whittaker. “Number one, wearing masks means you only get to work with half of your face and half of your fellow actors’ faces in rehearsal, and number two, you can’t get close to each other.” 

Interaction between actors and their ability to react to everything they give one another in terms of verbal cues and body language is imperative for good theatre. “There are definitely new challenges, not being able to engage with each other’s entire faces or have physical touch as part of our language,” said actor April Fossen. “Mask necessity in the world in general and in this process has definitely made me aware of how much I use my face to convey things.”

Production obstacles aside, Pygmalion is hoping the pertinent themes of polarization and maintaining relationships present in “White Savior” will draw in audiences. “Politics collide during the 45th president’s term when two sisters — a human rights researcher and an arch-conservative mom clash,” said Filloux when describing the play. With a presidential election just around the corner and the subsequent division of families and friend groups with differing political opinions, “White Savior” attempts to connect with these families and friend groups and show that finding common ground with our neighbors is not only possible but important.

“White Savior” premieres Nov. 1, 2020, and will be playing online all month. Visit the Pygmalion Productions website for more information.


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