Last year, at the Hamilton Fringe Festival, Same Boat Theatre premiered a workshop production of my newest play Your Own Sons. Now, every playwright always has nerves about the opening of a new show. But this one had me particularly on edge. It all had to do with the topic. Homegrown radicalization and the war with ISIS in the Middle East does not make for a light evening of theatre. Would such a play find an audience at the Fringe? I, honestly, didn’t know.
Your Own Sons was met with receptive audiences and critical reviews including Reviewer’s Pick by View magazine. What’s more, we were selected as one of the shows included in the inaugural Encore Festival produced by Darren Stewart-Jones (producer of the popular HamilTEN Festival) along with three other productions. I was proud of the work that was put into the Fringe production but, always on my mind, was the fact that it was a workshop. We were trying out a new script and still developing the characters and the story in preparation for a longer production to be staged in 2018.
Creating theatre is a long and complicated process as a script takes time to manifest and evolve. The workshop draft of Your Own Sons that was produced at the Fringe was remarkably different than the first draft I hammered out months before. In the same fashion, the version of the play we’re presenting this month is quite different than the one we presented at the Fringe. And it’s a real privilege to finally have such an opportunity. Oftentimes, new play development that happens on the festival circuit doesn’t translate into subsequent runs so audiences are unable to see the evolution of the work. That’s not the case here.
Now some might ask how the show has changed from one incarnation to the next. We have some new cast members who have joined the team along with some new design elements that were unavailable to us at Fringe. As well, the longer run time has allowed us to fill in the story of how radicalization has touched the lives of several of the characters. The central character of Pauline is given more room to explore the plight of her missing son. And we’re also given more time with the character of Dan. A father suffering like Pauline, Dan’s story was only hinted at in the workshop through a series of monologues. This production sees his story much more fleshed out.
And thanks to a City Enrichment Grant from the City of Hamilton, Same Boat Theatre has the opportunity to produce this show at the Pearl Company Arts Centre. So many companies have been hosted at this community-driven arts venue and we’re pleased to now be a part of it and to share the next incarnation of Your Own Sons with audiences now as we did ten month ago. We hope to see you there and to hear your thoughts on this new(ish) work.