New play shows a community fighting injustice
When The Megantic Outlaw hits the stage at Bygone Heritage Village Saturday it comes with a few firsts.
First, this is the premiere performance, which was written by Quarter Century Theatre’s (QCT) Rochelle Reynolds as her thesis when she was in university.
Secondly, it is probably the first time that the story of Donald Morrison, imprisoned for advocating for settlers rights in the 1880s, is being told.
The production is one of the few in Canada that was completely self-funded through a crowd-sourcing scheme, but not before being frozen out by crowd-sourcing giant, Go Fund Me because it didn’t realize that the fund was for a play and not a political prisoner. So, QCT started its own campaign on its own website and reached their goal.
And finally, for all of the actors, this is the first time performing the play with the playwright as director.
Is it intimidating? Ask Tristan Claxton, playing Peter Panyaardt.
“It can be weird at times because the interesting thing with any art, is that art is subjective so the way I read a line can be completely different from what she was thinking when she wrote the line,” he said. “And so it can be odd having those discussions. It can be a tricky one because she is the director and also because she is the writer. With a director you can have those discussions; it’s easy to say why don’t we try this first. But when she is the writer; first you want to be careful and not step on anyone’s toes but the great thing about Rochele is that she is very open to those discussions.
“It’s been a different experience but it has been a very good experience.”
It has been just as interesting for Reynolds.
“It has been a very interesting process, because the play has never run any miles,” she said. “I actually don’t think that a playwright should direct the play, but since I stepped up to do this I am surprised that I am able to divorce myself from that role and it has been really interesting looking at the project through a director’s lens and keep my ego out of it. I don’t know how it has been for the actors but it has been a cool experience for me.”
The Megantic Outlaw follows the story of Canadian folk hero, Donald Morrison, a freedom fighter from the late 1800s. Morrision was wrongfully imprisoned for arson and murder while advocating for settler's rights in Lac Mégantic, Quebec and his story garnered national attention and support at the time.
The manhunt leading up to his capture was the longest in Canadian history and it was the overwhelming support from his community that kept him free for so long.
“I was afraid that it would be a stogy piece of Canadian history, but I think it is a story for today on how a community comes together when something is not right,” said Reynolds.
You can see for yourself in the 10 performances that run from Aug. 19 to 26. Showtime is 7 p.m. save for two matinees at 2 p.m. on the 19th and 23rd.
For more information go to qctheatre.ca for ticket information.