More than a footnote is an initiative by Tableau D’Hôte to develop works centered around little-known historical stories and figures that have shaped the communities and nations that make up Canada. Tableau D’Hôte feels that the responsibility to tell these stories should not fall solely on the shoulders of our collaborators, which is why we invite members of the public to have a say in which play to commission.
The program came to be after our 2016 co-production of Lorena Gale’s Angélique, which was a turning point for the company. Over the years, we have wrestled with what precisely “Canadian” theatre meant, beyond simply the country of origin or residence of playwrights. Most theatre-goers who attended Angélique admitted to being unaware of Marie-Josèphe Angélique’s story or even of the Canadian legacy of slavery. Angélique’s notable absence from history books is a clear example of the systemic racism on which our social structures were founded and continue to operate.
With this, we committed to share the stories that explore and pay homage to the nations upon nations that make up the country known as Canada. How may theatre artists advance our collective understanding of history in a format that goes beyond that of a 60 second Heritage Minute? Devising productions rooted in Canadian history is a natural evolution for Tableau D’Hôte. Such projects will necessitate resources dedicated to a healthier research and creation incubation period as well as stronger partnerships with historical and oral storytelling experts.
The program was designed to engage the public from the very beginning of the playwriting process. It involved five pitches from playwrights from across the country approached by our Artistic Director Mathieu Murphy-Perron. The public is invited to help select which proposal will ultimately be rewarded with the commission and professional development. The hope and risk being that this engagement from the very embryonic stages of the project will foster a certain attachment to its growth and evolution.
The two pitches that receive the highest number of votes are then reviewed by the jury composed of the TDHT team (the AD, Associate Producers, and Resident Designers), who ultimately decide which playwright receives the commission. The jury is asked to consider the political relevance of the proposal, its potential theatricality, its timeliness and urgency, and why they believe this neglected moment in the history of the nations upon nations upon nations that make up the state we know as Canada needs to be staged