Hands Across the Country: Western Edge to Present "Homegrown" as Protest Against Cut to Toronto's Summerworks

Nanaimo, BC’s Western Edge Theatre will present a public reading of the controversial play "Homegrown," by Catherine Frid, as a gesture of support for Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival, and in protest against the federal government’s politically-driven decision to withdraw that company’s funding .

SummerWorks premiered "Homegrown" last year as part of its annual theatre and arts festival. The play is about the relationship between a Toronto woman and a member of the so-called “Toronto 18,” a group of alleged terrorists, some of whom were later convicted. Prior to the production, the Prime Minister’s Office claimed it “glorified terrorism.” On Monday, Summerworks announced that, after five years, the Department of Canadian Heritage had withdrawn the Festival’s $45,000 grant, which comprised 20% of the company’s budget.

Western Edge artistic producer Frank Moher says the move was plainly politically-motivated. “This is an act of censorship and intimidation on the part of the Conservative government, intended to send a chilling message to Canadian artists: don’t present material we don’t like, or you, too, will be punished. It’s not in keeping with Canadian traditions or values, and has to be challenged.

“We may be 4000 kilometres away from SummerWorks, but we stand with them. And we hope our reading will inspire other theatre companies and groups across the country to hold their own. Let the government know that any attempt to suppress art it doesn't like will only cause it to spread more widely.”

The Western Edge Theatre public reading of "Homegrown" will take place on Friday, July 15th at 7:30 pm at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre, 46 Nicol St. Admission is by donation at the door. All proceeds will go to the SummerWorks Festival.

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