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Arts & Events9th Hour Theatre Company Brings Prodigal Son to Ottawa

9th Hour Theatre Company Brings Prodigal Son to Ottawa

9th Hour Theatre Company Brings Prodigal Son to Ottawa

When 9th Hour Theatre Company Artistic Director Jonathan Harris first read Shawn Macdonald’s Prodigal Son he was not only moved but, also, inspired. With its themes portraying the beauty of faith and pain sometimes felt by the LGBTQ who follow it, the play is filled with struggles that are exceptionally relevant in today’s charged climate. Ultimately, it leaves the audience with many questions.

“I really like that the play doesn’t try to convince you with preachiness about what’s right or wrong, but rather tells the real emotional story of a person who suffered loss of self and identity,” says Harris. “What one takes away is entirely up to them and how they want to respond to such a story, whether with compassion or with judgement.”

Prodigal Son will be 9th Hour Theatre Company’s 19th production since the non-profit was founded in 2009. Its productions have been critically acclaimed.

In the play we meet Peter who learns that his conservative Catholic father is dying. Shaken by religious epiphanies, Peter returns to the family home in Quebec to overcome his differences with his estranged father. The play captures inner and interpersonal tensions between sexual and faith identities. While fictional, the story was born out of the playwright’s own spiritual struggle as a gay man who grew up in the Catholic tradition.

“Each character is complex and human, acting out of their own tradition and understanding. Love is central to the story, a father’s love for the church, his love for his son with an inability to express it, Peter’s love of God, and Peter’s love for his partner,” explains Harris.

Prodigal Son premiered at Pacific Theatre in Vancouver in 2006. It remains timely today. While Canada is a beacon of tolerance and acceptance for people who are LGBTQ, if they were raised in or want full acceptance and participation in a church, they can be misunderstood and hurt by both their faith community and the LGBTQ community.

Prodigal Son is directed by JONATHAN HARRIS, with production stage management by RACHEL-DAWN WALLACE, original music composed by MARGARET SMITH, assistant directed by GEORGE DUTCH, and assistant stage managed by TANYA SYLVESTER. Lighting design is by CAMERON A. MACDONALD, sound design by ANDREW PALANGIO, make-up & hair design by SHERVON AMIN, properties design by TERESA SEASONS, costume design by MARY BLAKLEY, graphic design by SUSAN MARRINER, and scenic art by SCYNTHIA A. ROSS and SHYSTY SHANE.

The ensemble cast includes TOM CHARLEBOIS, ALEX FRIESEN, KENNY HAYES, CATHY NOBLEMAN, REBECCA RUSSELL, JACOB SEGRETO, CLARA SILCOFF and SHAUN TOOHEY.

As with previous productions, 9th Hour will hold moderated discussions after some of the performances, which offer the audience an opportunity to converse about the play’s content and themes.

Though the play takes place in the 1970’s, Harris admits that there still is much work to do here in Canada where most faith communities are not holistically accepting of LGBTQ people. This issue tends to often be a line in the sand that a lot of Christian faith communities draw to remain biblically faithful, in which that very act can be hurtful, he says, adding that he was surprised that derogatory terms against the LGBTQ community are still used by kids in elementary schools today.

“If Peter’s story can generate some much needed compassion, perhaps it can contribute to shifting these harmful attitudes. I would like audiences to consider being in the shoes of an LGBTQ person of faith and to reflect upon their own conclusions that they may have about God or faith or religion that may be based on them or a loved one being hurt.”


PERFORMANCES:

· Centrepointe Theatres, Ben Franklin Place – 101 Centrepointe Drive, west of Ottawa’s core (Nov. 1-3)

· Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Boulevard in Orleans, east of Ottawa’s core (Nov. 7-9)

· and La Nouvelle Scene, 333 King Edward Avenue in downtown Ottawa (Nov. 11-12).

For show times and the post-show discussion schedule, visit www.9th-hour.ca.

TICKETS:

Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.9th-hour.ca.

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