I first became aware of what was going on with Tarragon Theatre and Michael Healey’s new play Proud via twitter, but it was the March 17th Globe and Mail article that got me interested. Now I’m pleased to be a part of the team of Vancouver artists standing in solidarity with our Toronto colleagues by mounting a staged reading of Michael Healey’s controversial new play, Proud on Sunday, July 22 (8:00 pm) at PL 1422.
Some background: Michael Healey wrote Proud during his 11-year tenure as Playwright in Residence at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. When the company chose not to produce the play as part of their 2012-13 season, Healey resigned from his post. The play – a comedy – features an unnamed character called “The Prime Minister” and is about Canadian social and political values. The Tarragon Theatre denies that programming choices are effected by political pressure, but only last year Toronto’s Summerworks Theatre Festival had funding cut by Canadian Heritage after choosing to present a play that allegedly portrayed a homegrown “terrorist” sympathetically. Healey is mounting an independent production of Proud in Toronto this fall.
David Bloom, director of the Vancouver reading, says, “We are producing Proud for two reasons: it’s an intelligent and provocative piece of theatre about our current political landscape, and because the greatest threat to the arts is self-censorship and fear.”
He continues, “The fact is we will never know for certain why Tarragon decided not to produce Proud. Here’s a question worth asking though: why is it so easy for us to believe they feared some kind of retribution for producing a play critical of the Harper Government™? Is it because theatre artists are innately timid, or is it because the government’s attacks on their perceived enemies have become so flagrant and outrageous? If they can set aside 8 million dollars to attack charities that disagree with their policies, surely anybody can be a target.”
The third in a trilogy of award-winning plays about Canadian values, Proud is about what we actually want out of our politics, and our politicians. One man devotes his entire life to moving the country several millimetres to the right on the political spectrum. Will he succeed? At what cost? A Pygmalion for a country that, until Stephen Harper came along, had no need for one.
Cast: Tom McBeath (Death of a Salesman)
John Cassini (God of Carnage)
Quelemia Sparrow (August: Osage County)
Gaelan Beatty (Xanadu)
Director: David Bloom (AD, Felix Culpa Theatre)
Stage Manager: Lois Dawson
Vancouver theatre companies supporting Proud include Felix Culpa, Neworld Theatre, Touchstone Theatre, Arts Club Theatre, Playwrights Theatre Centre, Ruby Slippers, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Compassionate Bone, Leaky Heaven Circus, and Pi Theatre.
Tickets are general admission, and by donation. For ticket reservations, email email@example.com. To join the facebook event, click here.