The Last Will and Testament of Lolita

Being bold means not fitting into any category. And so I don’t know where to put this show: a collectively devised production without a writer or a director and in which I performed. It involved other artists equally difficult to pigeonhole — the designers of Shadowland, and the filmmaker Peter Mettler. The show had such a brief life that it belongs to the detritus of theatre lore, a piece of ephemera. And yet, it was meaningful enough to inspire a long analysis of collective practice – what today we’d call devising — in the Canadian Theatre Review.

“The vitality of the production lay not only in the intricacy of the plot, but in the liveliness and sophistication of its execution.” “The Very Best Bad Girls Create…”, L. Patricia Ives, Canadian Theatre Review 55, Summer 1988

Four of us came together to make Lolita: Maureen White (Nightwood), Louise Garfield (of the feminist lipsynching group The Clichettes), screenwriter Peggy Thompson, and myself. Our mission: to investigate female erotica. We bounced off a book of photographs, Marcia Resnick’s Re-visions, a collection investigating adolescence and dedicated to Humbert Humbert, Vladimir Nabokov’s murderous pedophile. Actors like the late Bob Nasmith, Jim Warren, and Derek Boyes joined us to play our Sandman, the fantasy male. Our improvisations turned into a loopy production called The Last Will and Testament of Lolita which ran for three weeks at Theatre Passe Muraille, co-produced by Nightwood Theatre and the Humbert Humbert Project Project, which was us four with a grant. Our premise was that a group of teenage girls studied acting at the YWCA with the now middle-aged Lolita. During her production of The Trojan Women (in which I played The Tree), we snuck backstage and murdered her nemesis, Humbert Humbert. 

At the end of the show, Lolita appeared on film with her testament, played by the legendary Jackie Burroughs. Who knows where the footage went? I have no idea. Since the show was highly visual with text being of minimal importance, I don’t even know if there’s a script or where it might be. All I’ve got is a handful of hilarious photographs and the memory of playing a frustrated Tree. 

“… this multi-media multi-murder high-camp comedy takes you far between the lines through endless plot twists to places Nabokov never dreamed of.”  Robyn Lake, in Extra, June 13, 1987

Baņuta Rubess, Peggy Thompson, The Last Will and Testament of Lolita

From Marcia Resnick's Re-Visions

The Trojan Women as directed by Lolita

Ensemble, The Last Will and Testament of Lolita