She may be getting some unwanted national attention — but the head of an annual theatre festival in Swift Current says she would do it again.
Denise Wall of the Chautauqua Theatre Festival jumped to the stage to stop an unscheduled appearance by burlesque performer Rosie Bitts — which had turned into a rant over Saskatchewan’s on-again, off-again laws regarding liquor laws and stripping.
Bitts, who does strip herself during her regular burlesque performance, was on stage a week ago for her brief appearance. She called a man on stage from the audience, had him lift his shirt to show his bare chest, then lamented that she could not do the same because a woman’s nipples could not be seen.
“What did they ever do to you, Saskatchewan,” she said, and answered “nothing.”
About that point, organizer Denise Wall took to the stage and stopped Rosie’s rant asking her to perhaps dance rather than talk. Rosie left the stage.
In retrospect, Wall says, “I definitely would have done it again to support the organization and keep its best interests at heart.”
She points out that they had to seek special dispensation for Rosie Bitts to perform her regular burlesque show twice during the festival. The revamped anti-stripping law only allows for one such performance in such a festival under strict conditions liquor laws.
Wall, who says she is not related to Premier Brad Wall who is also from Swift Current, says she worried that the impromptu rant could run afoul of those liquor laws.
She also says “I thought there could have been potential or difficulty getting funding for things if we had lost the trust of our supporters.”
She says she was referring to local business and volunteer supporters in Swift Current and also financial sponsors such as the provincial government.
For her part, Rosie Bitts says she was shocked by being stopped mid performance, but would still come and play in Saskatchewan again. Still, she thinks Denise Wall helped prove her point.
“I couldn’t really understand what was happening, because it was such a perfect illustration of censorship when she came on stage,” she says.