Spring 2018 preview

Scirocco is proud to announce four spring drama titles.

Children of God
a musical by Corey Payette
available March 2018

Children of God is a powerful musical about an Oji-Cree family whose children are taken away to a residential school in Northern Ontario. Julia and Tommy struggle to survive in the harsh environment of a religious school that is determined to rob them of their identities while their mother, Rita, never stops trying to get them back. The impact of this experience on the lives of all of them is profound and devastating, yet the story moves toward redemption. Children of God offers a thrilling blend of ancient traditions and contemporary realities, celebrating resilience and the power of the Indigenous cultural spirit.


Oregano
by Rose Napoli
available April 2018

One moment, Mona’s father is teaching her to make pasta sauce at 2 AM—and the next, she sits beside him in a hospital room, counting the seconds between beeps. When a curiously familiar barefooted boy runs in, carrying a blue umbrella and singing a song she’s heard somewhere before, the rain begins. And Mona goes on a journey forward to the past. Steeped in legend and lore, Oregano is a family play about accepting the past in order to embrace the future—teaching us that sometimes, the truth can be exactly what we imagine it to be.

 


Popcorn Elder
by Curtis Peeteetuce
available April 2018

As a condition of his parole, Darren has been ordered by the court to live with his father, Wally, on the rez. The two have always had a contentious relationship: Wally is a problem drinker, and Darren’s got a short fuse. But Wally tells his son that he’s stopped drinking and started going to ceremony, and urges Darren to do the same. As old family secrets start to be revealed, the father and son grapple with complex issues.

Popcorn Elder is a drama with many layers. It examines the issue of “plastic shamans” who offer spirituality at a price. It looks at a community working to face its demons and heal past trauma. And at the heart of the play is the story of a father and son who are seeking connection and reconciliation. Through flashbacks, a combination of Cree and English, and an unforgettable cast of characters, Popcorn Elder tells the story of one family’s journey toward hope.


The Seat Next to the King
by Steven Elliot Jackson
available April 2018

In 1964, a white man walks into a public restroom in a Washington, DC park looking for sex. The next man who enters is a black man.

In what seems at first to be a simple encounter, The Seat Next to the King explores the lives of two men from the pages of history who literally sat next to the most powerful men in America—Bayard Rustin, a friend to Martin Luther King Jr. who organized the March on Washington, and Walter Jenkins, top aide and friend to President Lyndon Johnson. An exploration of sexuality, race, and masculinity, The Seat Next to the King imagines a meeting between two men, burdened by their prejudices and inner conflicts, as they attempt to find a connection.

Toronto launch of 2017 books

Join us for the Toronto launch of 9 Scirocco plays.

With plays by:

Marie Beath Badian (in attendance)

Kenneth T. Williams (in attendance)

Minh Ly (in attendance)

Anna Chatterton (in attendance)

Pamela Mala Sinha (in attendance)

Gord Rand (in attendance)

Mark Crawford   

Maureen Hunter (in attendance)

Geoffrey Simon Brown 

Special guest host Marcia Johnson

 

Monday November 27
6:30–9:30 pm

The Upstairs Bar at
The Artful Dodger Pub
10 Isabella Street, Toronto

Roland Vandal is Our Manitoba Hero 2017!

Congratulations to Roland Vandal on being one of Our Manitoba Heroes for 2017!

“Our Manitoba Heroes recognize individuals in our province who make an impact in our communities and our 2017 Heroes are no exception…Thank you to our Heroes for all that they do. Your selfless efforts continue to inspire us all to make a difference!”

https://www.facebook.com/ManitobaHeroes/

 


Off the Ropes: My Story eBook is available through Signature Editions, or click here to purchase our paperback copy!

Finding Home in the Promised Land – Review

Reviewed by Darlene O’Leary

“I fought my way out of the wilderness, but I still wear cuts inside my body and soul.”

In Finding Home in the Promised Land, author Jane Harris shares her deeply personal story of domestic violence, poverty, homelessness, and social exile. She also offers a narrative and historical glimpse of her Scottish immigrant ancestors, particularly her great-great grandmother. Their struggles in the new “promised land” of pre-Confederation Canada both parallel and contrast Harris’s own quest for home.

As the book moves between the past and the present, Harris searches for answers about the brutal reality of poverty. She offers an account of her own experience with what she calls the “poverty industry.” In the process, she also provides disheartening facts about poverty in Canada and who is most impacted.

Harris is both a victim of and resistant to the deeply held notion that poverty is a personal failure. She recognizes that surviving and thriving in any context requires not just hard work and determination, but it requires social relationships and supports.

Harris’s analysis of social and institutional failures is broad ranging, and her personal experiences illustrate these failures powerfully.

In pointing towards solutions, Harris makes a case for more affordable housing, along with a housing benefit for those in need. She also recommends exploring a guaranteed annual income as an alternative to the “shame-based poverty industry.”

Ultimately, this book is a personal search for home and an exploration of the social exile of those most vulnerable.


https://cpj.ca/book-review-finding-home-promised-land

A Tale of Two Divas — St. Catharine’s Standard Mar 23, 2017

New book by biography writer

A Port Dalhousie woman who has written several biographies has a new book.

A Tale of Two Divas, by author and retired Brock English teacher Elspeth Cameron, tells the story of two Canadian singers who begin as soloists in church choirs but move on to more spectacular careers.

She describes the novel as a hybrid of fiction and non-fiction, and is set in Canada’s Edwardian West.

The career paths of its two female characters — Jean Forsyth and Edith Miller — detail an era of great change in the Canadian pioneer Prairie West.

Cameron is perhaps best known for her biographies on writer Hugh MacLennan and poet Irving Layton. She has also published a hybrid biography and memoir, called Aunt Winnie.

Her latest book completes her coverage of Canada’s regions.

From 1970 to 2010 she taught Canadian literature and Canadian studies at several universities including Brock, McGill and University of Toronto.

Her latest book was written in collaboration with Gail Kreutzer of Manitoba.

Elspeth Cameron, A Tale of Two Divas featured in The Hamilton Spectator

The power of suggestion

Jean Forsyth and Edith J. Miller seemed doomed to obscurity but for a willing biographer and a tenacious champion of promoting women

By Tiffany Mayer


Elspeth Cameron is open to suggestions.

In fact, the career of one of Canada’s most prolific biographers can be credited largely to others planting seeds of ideas that compelled much of her work.

Take writing biographies as the genre of choice for becoming a published author. The decision to write about other people’s lives happened during an epiphanic moment at an academic conference in 1974.

Then a young professor at Concordia University, Cameron saw an opening in the literary category when poet and critic Frank Davey told the crowd gathered before him that biography was missing in Canadian critical literature.

“I took him at his word and I said, ‘I would like to do that,'” Cameron recalled. “It’s not my idea. I’m very open to suggestions.”

Five years later, Cameron published her first book, Hugh MacLennan: A Writer’s Life and was nominated for a Governor General’s Award for her work. But even choosing MacLennan as the subject for her literary debut happened by way of capitulation.

Cameron had her heart set on writing about Canada’s other ink-stained statesman, Robertson Davies.

Problem was, Davies was in Toronto. Cameron was teaching in Montreal and MacLennan was nearing the end of his career at McGill University. Getting access to him would be easier.

Soon after A Writer’s Life was published, Irving Layton contacted Cameron and suggested she write about him. So she did. It was a proposition he regretted, she recalled as she sat in the sunlit living room of her cottage-like home in Port Dalhousie.

In an effort to paint a fulsome portrait of the Canadian poet, Cameron interviewed Layton’s three ex-wives and partner at the time for her book.

“Irving Layton got crazy mad at me,” she said.

When she was challenged by readers at talks she gave mid-career for not having documented lives of any women, Cameron devoted her next five volumes to them. She even turned her biographer’s eye inward and penned her own story for No Previous Experience: A Memoir of Love and Change.

Her latest homage to important — and often overlooked — Canadians doesn’t stray from the common theme that threads her career. A Tale of Two Divas: The Curious Adventures of Jean Forsyth and Edith J. Miller in Canada’s Edwardian West landed on bookstore shelves in February thanks to someone suggesting Cameron write it.

The idea came by way of an email from a woman named Gail Kreutzer in Winnipeg. Kreutzer, whom Cameron had never met, sat on the board of the Winnipeg Humane Society and to honour the organizations history, she wanted a book written about its founder Jean Forsyth.

It turns out Cameron is just as welcoming of persistence as she is of suggestions, however. Two years later, she finally dug into Kreutzer’s emails piling up in her inbox and the envelopes filled with information about Forsyth stacked in her living room, and starting piecing together the story of a woman who would be her next book.

Cameron had something resembling a manuscript nine months later when she flew to Winnipeg to finally meet Kreutzer, by then a friend. But throughout her research, another name kept turning up alongside Forsyth’s. It was Edith J. Miller.

Forsyth was Miller’s voice teacher in Winnipeg in 1894.

Their paths would continue to cross throughout their incredible careers. Cameron tells how each achieved success. She also brings their stories to life through dialogue, some of it inferred based on her research.

The book, which entertains as much as it informs, also provides insight into the lives of Western Canadian women at the time and their roles in society. Cameron describes it as a book of women’s history, social history and cultural history.

Special to the Hamilton Spectator.

View the article here : The Power of Suggestion, May 11, 2017