Autumn Update from the Firehall

Everything is connected – 35 years of theatre and dance that connects.

The Firehall has been bustling since kicking off our 2017-2018 season.  Feasting on Famine and Hyperlink have been and gone and Happy Place by Pamela Sinha just closed.  The cast and crew of Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth are into their second week of rehearsals and  True Voice Theatre Project just presented here as part of the Heart of the City festival.  We have lots of artists coming in and out for upcoming projects and our two Puppies-in-Residence, Wookie and Lou, roaming the halls.  Their humans General Manager, Susan, and Marketing and Administrative assistant, Cheyenne, also play a very important part here.  We are excited to be in our 35th season with an amazing line-up for our audiences. There is truly something for everyone.

Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth, first produced at the Firehall in the ‘90’s, is the story of Janice Wirth (born Grace Wabung), who was raised by a white family in London, Ontario after being removed from her birth family’s home in Otter Lake, a First Nations reserve. Janice’s birth sister, Barb, surprises her at her home in Toronto with her boyfriend, Rodney, and his brother, Tonto.  They are there to convince Janice to come back to Otter Lake to pay her last respects to their birth mother, who has just passed on. After much convincing, Janice agrees to do so and in doing so is forced to confront her feelings of anger and resentment, as well as to seek forgiveness.

Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth is a sequel to Drew Hayden Taylor’s earlier play, Someday and is set 5 months later.  In Someday, Janice/Grace comes to Otter Lake to find her birth mother, Anne, on Christmas eve, hoping to resolve some of the question she had about why she was adopted.  When she discovers that 35 years earlier she was taken from her family during the “scoop-up”, for no known reason, she runs away from this past in her confusion and pain.  “Scoop-up” is a term that has been used to describe the removal of Native children from their families during the 1950’s and 1960’s. These children were taken from their homes to be placed in adoptive homes in Canada, Europe and the U.S.A. Siblings were separated and grew up in totally different worlds from what they were born into.   Anne Wabung, Janice’s birth mother, never completely gave up hope of “someday” reuniting with her baby Grace and to her death hoped she would see her family reunited. However, this was not to be.

Drew Hayden Taylor is adamant that the two plays work independently of each other and indeed they do.  He has referred to the earlier play as the family’s and mother’s story whereas Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth is about the sisters, particularly Janice coming to terms with her experience.

In the New Year, the season will continue with The Pipeline Project, produced by ITSAZOO Productions and Savage Society in a work that asks audiences to confront the political conflicts surrounding Canada’s oil industry and the personal conflicts that arise when one considers the impact of truly ‘going green’ . The second act is a Talk Forward where audiences and guest speakers will respond to the play and talk about what we all can do to create a healthy future.  The Firehall’s production of Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius’ hard-hitting drama, SHIT, follows The Pipeline Project.  As described by Maxim Boon of Melbourne’s Limelight Magazine SHIT is “A brutal but ultimately touching portrait of femininity from the lowest dregs of the underclasses … a truly important work”.

As the leaves fall and seasons pass, the work at the Firehall continues.  But there is still time to take advantage of the great ticket prices available through season’s passes. We have seven great productions still to come!