More Summerworks adventures: Loving the Stranger & Homegrown

Hey all –

Been a busy Friday night/weekend, so just getting on-line now.

On Friday night, I saw Loving the Stranger or how to recognize an invert at the Factory Theatre mainspace. Written and directed by Alistair Newton, this show is part cabaret, part history lesson, part verbatim theatre. An amazing ensemble cast, singing  in three languages and dancing, with one actor playing artist Peter Flinsch –  speaking monologue excerpts from the interview Newton did with Flinsch in January. Mr. Flinsch was imprisoned in Nazi Germany for being gay and survived, later moving to Montreal, and witnessed many positive changes to gay rights before he died in March.

Homegrown, by Alum member and playwright Catherine Frid (whose play Dead Cat Bounce was just produced in the Toronto Fringe), has garnered a lot of attention, from interviews, reviews and opinion in The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Sun – as well as Now Magazine – and even the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Even before it opened, it had a lot of buzz – and opened to a full house at the Theatre Passe Muraille mainspace last Thursday.

I saw the second performance on Saturday, in another packed house. And I can tell you that this play does not in any way support or condone terrorism – though, the way some folks are reacting, you’d think it did. It doesn’t. And, all due respect to the various opinions, but could folks at least see the play before they comment? That goes for you too, buddy at the PMO!

Homegrown is effectively staged, with several distinct playing areas – the most compelling of which is the plexi divider screen through which Cate and Shareef communicate via telephone, hugging by aligning the palms of their hands on either side of the glass. A great ensemble, headed by Lwan Ghebrehariat (as Shareef) and Shannon Perreault (as Cate), this is an autobiographical (not to mention gutsy) story, in which the playwright is front and centre as we watch her journey through researching the prison life – and story – of one of the Toronto 18. Part Cate’s story, part Shareef’s – whatever your opinion of this play, it will make you think. And discuss.

And, really, that’s the point. It’s the story of one writer’s experience of one man in this situation. And that man is presented as a human being, full of sweetness and flaws – just like the rest of us – but in this case the flaw is tragic.

Please go see these well-conceived and thought-provoking plays. For details and show times/venues, see the Summerworks website: www.summerworks.ca

I’ll be back with more Summerworks adventures later this week.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “More Summerworks adventures: Loving the Stranger & Homegrown

  1. herchel

    I too saw the play and it does a wonderful job of portraying the human-ness of the main character. However, it must not be lost on us that he was indeed a part of a real intention to kill hundreds and profit from it. let’s not forget that.

  2. Tina

    Saw “Homegrown” on Friday (2nd last performance), and was impressed with the ensemble cast, and the complexity of emotions and opinions that the script provoked. Afterwards, it was very interesting to see how clumps of people gathered outside the theatre to discuss it at length!
    Yes, Shareef came across as “sympathetic”, if only because we saw the human being behind the prisoner. Ultimately, I don’t believe that he was innocent of terrorism (he did what he was accused of doing), but the delays in his trial, and the ridiculous publication bans on publication bans were unnecessary. And really, how much credence can one put in the testimony of that informant, a slippery character who was paid $4million for it?

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