MESSAGE FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
9th Hour Theatre Company has a mandate to engage theatre in order to explore, examine, and express questions, ideas, and stories relating to faith. With an ensemble approach to telling stories, we strive to challenge ourselves and audiences with the big questions raised from our art, and seek to unpack the rich themes and emotional landscape of these stories.
As soon as I read the play, I was moved and inspired, firstly that the story depicts faith as something beautiful and precious through the lens of a child, and something worth pursuing and recovering in a fresh way, but also the pain and tension that LGBTQ people of faith have historically suffered and continue to face today regarding their own validity and belonging in faith community, even in Ottawa, even in 2017. It’s wonderful that Prodigal Son is a Canadian story, and yet timeless in its themes which can be relevant to any society or religion. As a company that tackles the tough questions and ideas relating to faith, we hadn’t yet presented a story that dove into the super charged topic of sexuality and how it relates to faith. I knew this was the one. I am extremely pleased with the sheer artistry and talent that came on board to tell this story, both the cast and design team. Almost everyone seemed to have some personal stake in the story and passionately wanted to tell it.
We recognize that LGBTQ people of faith are an often overlooked invisibly hurting people in our society, and usually misunderstood in both faith and wider LGBTQ communities due to the historic and ongoing tension of identity related to sexuality and spirituality. We are passionate about telling this story in order to shed light on their struggles and open the discussion to promote understanding in wider social circles. Prodigal Son depicts the often painful journey for LGBTQ people coming from or part of faith communities. Many have abandoned their faith communities or faith itself out of a need for survival or a belief that God or those who represent God are uncomfortable with them or hate them. Sadly, many struggle with mental health or have taken their own lives due to the crippling emotional burden and pain they have had to endure from the loss of community, position, friends, family, identity, livelihood, and hope. Many still thrive and are beacons of resilience, compassion, bravery, and strength, forging forward in their faith and in relationships with others who often would oppose them and even deny them their faith identity or happiness.
It is my hope that you enjoy our non-naturalistic stylized presentation of this emotional story, using the ensemble’s voices, bodies, and collective movement to highlight the themes and entertain you throughout. Each character is complex and human, acting out of their own tradition and understanding. Love is central to the story, a father’s love for the church and tradition, his love for his son with an inability to express it, Peter’s love for God, for his family, and his love for his partner.
There is an enormous gulf and history of hurt between religion and LGBTQ people. It is my hope that Peter’s story brings some hope and healing to those who have been hurt, and that the story of Prodigal Son generates some compassion in the place of judgement that would contribute to what I imagine is only the beginnings of a long and much needed process of reconciliation between religious communities and LGBTQ people.