SummerWorks, the largest juried theatre festival in Canada, opens its 21st edition this year on August 4 in Toronto. Only a few weeks ago, Heritage Canada announced it was pulling the federal funding for SummerWorks – about $45,000 – which accounts for approximately 22% of the festival budget.
Why? Well, according to the feds, it’s to disabuse arts organizations of the notion that they’re “entitled to funding”. Or could it be because someone has a bee in their bonnet about “Homegrown”? That’s Catherine Frid’s powerful autobiographical play about a lawyer’s friendship with one of the convicted “Toronto 18” terrorists, which was staged in SummerWorks 2010. The play got a lot of ink before most people, certainly the politicians in question, had seen the production or even read the script. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said, “We are extremely disappointed that public money is being used to fund plays that glorify terrorism.”
The playwright has gone on record to state that most people missed the point. In no way does the play “glorify terrorism”, but was an exploration of the justice system in Canada.
The government’s distrust/dislike of “Homegrown” and the resulting controversy seems to lead directly to the funding cut to SummerWorks.
In support of SummerWorks, more than 80 theatre companies across Canada are participating in staged readings of “Homegrown” on Friday July 15. Money raised will go to SummerWorks.
Playwright Catherine Frid is a member of Alumnae Theatre Company, and we are proud to partner with Canadian Stage to present a reading in Toronto. It will be held at CanStage’s Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street, a few blocks south of Alumnae Theatre), tomorrow – Friday July 15. Admission is PWYC. Doors open at 7:30; show starts at 8 pm.
Check out Facebook, listing in NOW magazine, and a July 7 article in National Post.