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Pisces

Darrin Hagen

As part of Theatre Network’s Spring 2021 Works in Progress Series

Live-streamed Sunday, May 16 at 2pm MT (recording available below) 

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the infamous 1981 raid on Edmonton’s Pisces Health Spa, Theatre Network invites you to join us for this rare peek into the process of re-writing history.

Darrin Hagen’s PISCES is the result of a decade of research and interviews. A blend of digital documentary and queer history lesson, PISCES will reveal some never-before seen details of the undercover investigation, the actual raid, and the aftermath of the largest mass arrest in Edmonton’s history. These actual documents will be read by young members of Edmonton’s Queer arts community. It will also feature first-hand recollections from one of the only men arrested that night to ever speak on the record about the raid, Edmonton Queer icon Michael Phair.

Featuring an interview with Michael Phair

& readings of historical documents of the raid (court documents, police notes, and media articles) by:

  • Makram Ayache
  • Even Gilchrist
  • Sammy Lowe
  • Simone Medina Polo
  • Hayley Moorhouse
  • Harley Morison
  • Liam Salmon
  • Mark Sinongco
  • Matthew Stepanic
  • Calla Wright

When the history of the Canadian bathhouse raids are spoken of, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa are the cities most often cited. But the story of what occurred in Edmonton on May 30, 1981, when the Pisces Health Spa was raided, overturning the lives of 60 members of Edmonton’s LGBTQ community, is in many ways the most interesting – and troubling – of the raids. Occurring a few months after the eastern Canadian raids, events in Edmonton unfolded much differently. The gay media in 1981 reported that the Edmonton Police had actually consulted with the Toronto Police to learn what they would have done differently, applying these lessons to the Edmonton raid. That, coupled with the Alberta government’s tendency to treat the Queer community with legal disdain, if not outright hostility to its own population of sexual minorities, paints a backdrop of judicial and legislated homophobia set in action in a ruthlessly efficient manner.

PISCES uses real-life testimonials, eyewitness accounts, as well as compelling material uncovered within police files, representing over a decade of research and interviews. These sources will be woven together to finally paint a more complete portrait of what happened in Edmonton’s gay community in 1981. From the media hysteria to the troubling aftermath, the invasion of safe Queer spaces and the persecution of the ‘found-ins’ had a shattering – and sometimes galvanizing – effect on the men arrested, their friends, their families – indeed, on Alberta’s entire LGBTQ population.

The story of Alberta’s population of sexual minorities is one the most fascinating stories of the battle for LGBTQ equality in Canada. Edmonton’s long road to equality for Queer people has earned a prominent place at the table of Canadian Queer history.

PISCES will be the first time this story has been explored in such detail.

Pisces is made possible through the support of the Edmonton Arts Council (EAC).