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MORE THAN A FOOTNOTE is an initiative by Tableau D’Hôte Theatre to develop theatrical works centered around little-known tales that have shaped the communities and nations that make up Canada. But the responsibility to tell these stories should not fall squarely on the shoulders of our artists and creators, which is why we want you as members of the public to have a say in which play we will commission and hope to eventually bring to a stage near you.

Below are five pitches from writers who wish to explore bits of our history creatively. The winner of MORE THAN A FOOTNOTE will be commissioned to put their proposed story to paper and will receive professional dramaturgy through the process.

Voting runs through September 3rd. Limit of one vote per person per day. The two pitches with the greatest number of votes will be considered by a smaller jury who will in turn announce the winner of MORE THAN A FOOTNOTE on September 9th.

Hot Blooded Foreigner By Michaela Di Cesare

On Easter Sunday 1911, 28-year-old Southern Italian immigrant Angelina Napolitano murdered her abusive husband with an axe while he slept.  She was seven months pregnant. She spent the next hour cuddling with one of her four children before calling a neighbour and saying in her native dialect, “I just killed a pig.” Angelina’s story is notable in Canadian history because she is the first defendant to have used the battered woman defence at trial. Her story sparked international outrage when she was found guilty by an all-male jury and a sentenced to hang by Justice Britton who denied their recommendation for clemency. The judge threw out the evidence of abuse, including Angelina’s multiple stab wounds, as inadmissible.  The local media and the justice system used her case to make an example of unpredictable “hot-blooded foreigners.” Eventually the Liberal government bowed to international pressure and commuted her death sentence to life imprisonment. Angelina’s children were placed in foster homes and the child she was carrying died after being born in prison. After serving 11 years in the Kingston Penitentiary, Angelina was paroled. Her later life is not well-documented and it is unknown whether she reunited with her children.

I am eager to unearth more about this Italo-Canadian woman who started an international dialogue on domestic violence and immigrants’ rights. At the same time, her death sentence and eventual parole gave me pause. I consulted a list of women sentenced to death and executed in Canada (including the French and British colonies before confederation). Though the list was thankfully short, my instinct was that there were glaring omissions. For example, I could not find Marie Joseph Angelique, whose conviction and execution was beautifully rendered in Lorena Gale’s Angelique. I started to realize that Canada has certainly convicted and executed more women than those whose names appear on the list. And this led me to ask, who has access to recognition? To clemency? To parole? How differently would Angelina’s story have played out against the same backdrop if she were a black or indigenous woman in 1911? Or in 2019? What if she was a new arrival in our neighbourhood right now? Is there a way to reopen this conversation from an intersectional feminist perspective? I think so. Please help me investigate.

Hot Blooded Foreigner By Michaela Di Cesare

On Easter Sunday 1911, 28-year-old Southern Italian immigrant Angelina Napolitano murdered her abusive husband with an axe while he slept.  She was seven months pregnant. She spent the next hour cuddling with one of her four children before calling a neighbour and saying in her native dialect, “I just killed a pig.” Angelina’s story is notable in Canadian history because she is the first defendant to have used the battered woman defence at trial. Her story sparked international outrage when she was found guilty by an all-male jury and a sentenced to hang by Justice Britton who denied their recommendation for clemency. The judge threw out the evidence of abuse, including Angelina’s multiple stab wounds, as inadmissible.  The local media and the justice system used her case to make an example of unpredictable “hot-blooded foreigners.” Eventually the Liberal government bowed to international pressure and commuted her death sentence to life imprisonment. Angelina’s children were placed in foster homes and the child she was carrying died after being born in prison. After serving 11 years in the Kingston Penitentiary, Angelina was paroled. Her later life is not well-documented and it is unknown whether she reunited with her children.

I am eager to unearth more about this Italo-Canadian woman who started an international dialogue on domestic violence and immigrants’ rights. At the same time, her death sentence and eventual parole gave me pause. I consulted a list of women sentenced to death and executed in Canada (including the French and British colonies before confederation). Though the list was thankfully short, my instinct was that there were glaring omissions. For example, I could not find Marie Joseph Angelique, whose conviction and execution was beautifully rendered in Lorena Gale’s Angelique. I started to realize that Canada has certainly convicted and executed more women than those whose names appear on the list. And this led me to ask, who has access to recognition? To clemency? To parole? How differently would Angelina’s story have played out against the same backdrop if she were a black or indigenous woman in 1911? Or in 2019? What if she was a new arrival in our neighbourhood right now? Is there a way to reopen this conversation from an intersectional feminist perspective? I think so. Please help me investigate.

Red River Women by Darragh Kilkenny-Mondoux

Marie-Anne Lagimodiere, nee Giboury, is known as the first woman of European descent to travel to Western Canada, and the grandmother of Louis Riel. Allegedly a great beauty, she married her coureur de bois husband at late age of 26, and refused to become a “fur widow” who only saw her husband every four years between hunting trips out west for “black gold” (beaver hide).

Upon arriving at the Red River Settlement, today the city of Winnipeg, via portage from the Lachine rapids, Marie-Anne found her husband had a Cree wife and two children. While Marie-Anne became neighbourly with the native women of the region, learning Cree and Ojibwe fluently and raising her children amongst them, a bitter rivalry between the Mesdames Lajimodieres grew to the threat of violence but eventually settled

The play I propose would stage the feminine social experience of first sharing a husband and co-parenting families, and then parallel that conflict and resolution with the feminine intercultural experience of the war between the nigh-imperial Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company and its Metis allies. I am interested in staging moments of internalized misogyny, maternal and feminine social solidarity in the midst of crises that threaten this community of families.

Red River Women by Darragh Kilkenny-Mondoux

Marie-Anne Lagimodiere, nee Giboury, is known as the first woman of European descent to travel to Western Canada, and the grandmother of Louis Riel. Allegedly a great beauty, she married her coureur de bois husband at late age of 26, and refused to become a “fur widow” who only saw her husband every four years between hunting trips out west for “black gold” (beaver hide).

Upon arriving at the Red River Settlement, today the city of Winnipeg, via portage from the Lachine rapids, Marie-Anne found her husband had a Cree wife and two children. While Marie-Anne became neighbourly with the native women of the region, learning Cree and Ojibwe fluently and raising her children amongst them, a bitter rivalry between the Mesdames Lajimodieres grew to the threat of violence but eventually settled

The play I propose would stage the feminine social experience of first sharing a husband and co-parenting families, and then parallel that conflict and resolution with the feminine intercultural experience of the war between the nigh-imperial Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company and its Metis allies. I am interested in staging moments of internalized misogyny, maternal and feminine social solidarity in the midst of crises that threaten this community of families.

O Kanata by Christopher Mejaki and Laurent Pitre

O Kanata! Our home ON Native land!

Sorry… but not sorry.

O KANATA! is the forgotten story of our nation. It is also the story of best friends, who have lost each other along the way, hoping that going for brunch and writing a play together can heal their past. Written by Chris Mejaki and Laurent Pitre, the play is a cross-cultural collaboration between Indigenous and French-English perspectives culminating into a dark comedy about identity, friendship and hope.  As John Ralston Saul uncovers in the book A Fair Country, this country was founded on three pillars, First Nations, English and French, but the original pillar is often forgotten. (Like a Justin Trudeau promise?) Their impact on our culture, government and laws is undeniable. In fact, Ralston Saul points out, “We are a métis civilization.” If we look at our values as a nation, we see that they emerge from Indigenous influence: From the peaceful welcoming of Europeans that shaped our foreign policy when it comes to international aid, to the 1885 Northwest Rebellion led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont that forced us to look at the corrupted nature of colonial systems. Walking the line of what’s true and false, oral and written, funny and tragic, we invite you to look closely at what it is to be Canadian. (Like why is that Canadian Maple Leaf so red on the flag? Or how do we do better than Reconciliation? Or where do we go from here?)

O Kanata by Christopher Mejaki and Laurent Pitre

O Kanata! Our home ON Native land!

Sorry… but not sorry.

O KANATA! is the forgotten story of our nation. It is also the story of best friends, who have lost each other along the way, hoping that going for brunch and writing a play together can heal their past. Written by Chris Mejaki and Laurent Pitre, the play is a cross-cultural collaboration between Indigenous and French-English perspectives culminating into a dark comedy about identity, friendship and hope.  As John Ralston Saul uncovers in the book A Fair Country, this country was founded on three pillars, First Nations, English and French, but the original pillar is often forgotten. (Like a Justin Trudeau promise?) Their impact on our culture, government and laws is undeniable. In fact, Ralston Saul points out, “We are a métis civilization.” If we look at our values as a nation, we see that they emerge from Indigenous influence: From the peaceful welcoming of Europeans that shaped our foreign policy when it comes to international aid, to the 1885 Northwest Rebellion led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont that forced us to look at the corrupted nature of colonial systems. Walking the line of what’s true and false, oral and written, funny and tragic, we invite you to look closely at what it is to be Canadian. (Like why is that Canadian Maple Leaf so red on the flag? Or how do we do better than Reconciliation? Or where do we go from here?)

and Juliet by Vanessa Rigaux

What separates us? Mountains, rivers, Great Plains? More than landscape and topography there is feeling. Desire. From where does desire flow?

My grandmother’s name is Juliette, no middle name. Juliette is not sure of her exact birthdate. She used to celebrate 2 days, just in case. Juliette was born in a little prairie town on February 10th, or 11th, 1922.

It was a small town where neighbours exchanged recipes, gossip, and secrets across farmer’s fields. I remember it was silence in the morning, a small garden, kittens in the shed. Hay in the barn. Cows in the pasture. Peace in the valley. A party telephone line.

1897-1929, the 4th wave of European settlers arrived in Canada. Juliette’s family arrives on Canadian soil in 1910. Ghosts dance in the prairie of my mind.

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The last time I drove past my grandparent’s farm was three years ago when I buried my father in the cemetery behind the church, down route 66. The neighbour warned me I wouldn’t recognize what I saw. It was like the farm had never been. A new agricultural operation bought the land and razed every building and every living thing to use as crop. Before the sale, the grasses grew tall and sage and weeds poked through the soil.

And Juliette tried to run, run as fast as she could across wheat fields, train tracks, and dirt roads. Run from a hand that would strike her, and run from the children she raised.

It would take a long time to find her voice. Now she speaks only of her childhood in a cloak of dementia and confusion. She is a child in her mind, traveling back into a past where innocence reigned and Mother and Father were there.

In the prairie of my mind, my grandmother speaks.

We are back at the farm, a picture of perfection in the mind’s eye. A nation was built on women like Juliette. Strong. Scared. Proud. Resilient like a tall prairie weed.

Considering the story of one woman living on occupied land given to her family, on section NW12-5-12, Manitoba, is it true that there is nothing left, to recognize a family farm once stood?

To imagine one family is not to imagine them all. Yet to imagine a grandmother’s story is to stand united in a feeling and stretch arms wide, keep feet planted in prairie soil, use a body to connect the sky and earth. It is dirt, it is spirit, it is desire; it is a dream of the self, and also of a nation. Who am I where am I going and where will I be, if Juliette, in sleep, could speak to me?

“I think sometimes that I became a historian because I didn’t have a history, but also because I was interested in telling the truth in a family in which truth was an elusive entity.” 
– Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

 

and Juliet by Vanessa Rigaux

What separates us? Mountains, rivers, Great Plains? More than landscape and topography there is feeling. Desire. From where does desire flow?

My grandmother’s name is Juliette, no middle name. Juliette is not sure of her exact birthdate. She used to celebrate 2 days, just in case. Juliette was born in a little prairie town on February 10th, or 11th, 1922.

It was a small town where neighbours exchanged recipes, gossip, and secrets across farmer’s fields. I remember it was silence in the morning, a small garden, kittens in the shed. Hay in the barn. Cows in the pasture. Peace in the valley. A party telephone line.

1897-1929, the 4th wave of European settlers arrived in Canada. Juliette’s family arrives on Canadian soil in 1910. Ghosts dance in the prairie of my mind.

More
The last time I drove past my grandparent’s farm was three years ago when I buried my father in the cemetery behind the church, down route 66. The neighbour warned me I wouldn’t recognize what I saw. It was like the farm had never been. A new agricultural operation bought the land and razed every building and every living thing to use as crop. Before the sale, the grasses grew tall and sage and weeds poked through the soil.

And Juliette tried to run, run as fast as she could across wheat fields, train tracks, and dirt roads. Run from a hand that would strike her, and run from the children she raised.

It would take a long time to find her voice. Now she speaks only of her childhood in a cloak of dementia and confusion. She is a child in her mind, traveling back into a past where innocence reigned and Mother and Father were there.

In the prairie of my mind, my grandmother speaks.

We are back at the farm, a picture of perfection in the mind’s eye. A nation was built on women like Juliette. Strong. Scared. Proud. Resilient like a tall prairie weed.

Considering the story of one woman living on occupied land given to her family, on section NW12-5-12, Manitoba, is it true that there is nothing left, to recognize a family farm once stood?

To imagine one family is not to imagine them all. Yet to imagine a grandmother’s story is to stand united in a feeling and stretch arms wide, keep feet planted in prairie soil, use a body to connect the sky and earth. It is dirt, it is spirit, it is desire; it is a dream of the self, and also of a nation. Who am I where am I going and where will I be, if Juliette, in sleep, could speak to me?

“I think sometimes that I became a historian because I didn’t have a history, but also because I was interested in telling the truth in a family in which truth was an elusive entity.” 
– Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

 

Repatriating imagination by Letícia Tórgo

If you could theatrically adapt the life of a person in Canadian history, who would it be? As a writer from abroad who have chosen Canada as my new home, I couldn’t think about anybody out of the obvious. Searching for the unknown, I discovered by chance Margaret Laurence. While reading about her, it seemed to me that it was she who discovered me instead. Her works show us how to repatriate imagination while growing up in Neepawa, Manitoba, living seven years in Africa (Somali and Ghana) and ten years in the United Kingdom before coming back to Canada. Some of her main topics were the search for inner freedom and self-knowledge while being a stranger in another country. If her experiences abroad enriched her as an artist, she has chosen to set some of her books around a fictional place, called Manawaka, a town of the mind, her own private world. Afraid of intimacy, suffering from anxiety and emotional instable, Laurence was, at the same time, an ordinary middle-aged woman and one of the most brilliant writers from Canadian literature. This play aims to present her experience in each of the places she lived in parallel with some excerpts of her most famous books, showing us how literature interferes with the identity of a people and what makes us accept the other. As she used to say, place means land and people. 

Repatriating imagination by Letícia Tórgo

If you could theatrically adapt the life of a person in Canadian history, who would it be? As a writer from abroad who have chosen Canada as my new home, I couldn’t think about anybody out of the obvious. Searching for the unknown, I discovered by chance Margaret Laurence. While reading about her, it seemed to me that it was she who discovered me instead. Her works show us how to repatriate imagination while growing up in Neepawa, Manitoba, living seven years in Africa (Somali and Ghana) and ten years in the United Kingdom before coming back to Canada. Some of her main topics were the search for inner freedom and self-knowledge while being a stranger in another country. If her experiences abroad enriched her as an artist, she has chosen to set some of her books around a fictional place, called Manawaka, a town of the mind, her own private world. Afraid of intimacy, suffering from anxiety and emotional instable, Laurence was, at the same time, an ordinary middle-aged woman and one of the most brilliant writers from Canadian literature. This play aims to present her experience in each of the places she lived in parallel with some excerpts of her most famous books, showing us how literature interferes with the identity of a people and what makes us accept the other. As she used to say, place means land and people. 

Select the play you wish to vote for and click on the vote button.