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Gordon: Moral minority

Moral minority

Gordon shines a light on a darkening world
Photo: Alexander Russ-Hogg

Sidemart Theatrical Grocery takes a stand with GG-winning playwright Morris Panych's dark family drama Gordon

It’s a major coup for the Segal Centre’s resident theatre company, Sidemart Theatrical Grocery, to premiere Gordon, written by two-time recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Drama, Morris Panych. Sidemart has made a name for itself with accessible shows that examine the current state of the world and challenge the art of theatre itself. Gordon fits right in: a dark yet humorous family drama that is both explosive and tender.

Panych says that he doesn’t write directly about politics, but rather "what I’ve done is taken a fable and lifted it right out of the Bible." He calls Gordon his version of a modern-day Prodigal Son: "In my version the son is turning into a career criminal in a very elaborate way, and the play is essentially a conversation between the father and son that takes place over several weeks, addressing ideas about what we should all be responsible for as a community."

The play, Panych says, is also loosely based on the stories about his mother’s half-brother’s son, who stirred up some trouble during the Depression: "He would disappear for months on end, sometimes returning with a suitcase full of money." The setting takes place in tough and gritty Hamilton. Panych says, "The abandoned neighbourhoods inspired me and the oil refineries reminded me of my childhood in Edmonton."

While describing the play’s story, Panych segues into bigger-picture issues: "You read about people who commit horrible crimes and you can’t help wondering: Where were their friends, family and the people who should have been pulling their chain? In today’s world it’s hard to raise people to be moral. The rewards for not being moral are too high. Just look at the criminals and psychopaths that run big corporations. If I was raising a child today I think it would be hard to convince him or her to make a valid commitment to the world." And that, Panych says, is what Gordon is all about.

At the Segal Centre Studio (5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine), Oct. 2-16

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