As readers know, for much of 2013 I’ve had the good fortune to be a member of the Playwrights Unit at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, near Kingston. Meeting once a month, five playwrights have been working with Artistic Director Ashlie Corcoran and Assistant Artistic Director Charlotte Gowdy to develop new scripts.
The goal of this exercise has been to present these scripts in a series of staged readings in December. For those who might like to attend, here are the details:
My own contribution, which will be presented on Thursday, December 5, is a play called The Jew from Three Rivers about a man who was my first cousin five times removed. In 1807, the citizens of Trois-Rivières made history: theirs was the first community in Lower Canada – and the British Empire – to choose someone professing the Jewish faith as their political representative. But Ezekiel Hart (pictured here) was never allowed to take his seat in the House of Assembly, in spite of being re-elected by his constituents. The Jew from Three Rivers tells his story, which resonates in our own day as governments grapple with how to accommodate religious and cultural differences in our society.
The readings actually provide an opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see a bit of how a script is developed. These are staged readings, not performances. Though each project has a director and actors, their objective isn’t so much to perform as it is to inform – in particular, to give the playwright feedback on what works and what doesn’t work at this stage of the project’s development.
If you can join us in Gananoque, you get to be a part of that process as well. After each reading there will be a discussion with the audience and the artists, and I know that this conversation will be invaluable to me as I decide how to improve the script in the next round of writing.
Admission to the readings are free – I hope to see you there!