A play by Canadian playwright Colleen Wagner had its world premiere in Halifax last month and met with enthusiastic audiences during its one-week run at the Bus Stop Theatre.
The play, which deals with an elderly Estonian-Canadian and his accountant son from Toronto who go to Tallinn to recover property which the family owned in pre-war days and find three fierce Russian women living there, struck a chord with audiences, particularly some with a Baltic heritage.
Elissa Barnard of the Chronicle-Herald described the play as intense, poetic and moving.
“The actors are very solid and the two-hour journey is at once funny, involving and sad.”
Colleen Wagner, who is a multi-award winning playwright, short fiction writer and teacher who won the Governor-General’s Award in 2006 for her play The Monument, researched her play in Estonia and was intrigued by the consequences of the government’s decision to return property to those from whom it was taken by the former Communist regime.
In an interview, Ms. Wagner said her parental grandparents came from Prussia in 1908 and when her parents moved east, she felt uprooted and swore she would return to the land where she was happy. Thirty years later she returned to the small town of her childhood and it had changed so much she had few reference points on which to hang her memories.
Home is a work of fiction and it is located in Estonia, because the country has survived endless years of occupation, she said.
“But the story is imagined. I am not concerned with retelling factual history. Rather, I was interested in the characters who feel some sense of rightful ownership and how complicated those issues are.”
She says she used a historical backdrop to tell a universal story, the story of home among migrating people.
Some Estonians and Latvians in the audience who have recovered family property in their native countries praised the production for its accurate portrayal of conflicting viewpoints and attitudes.
The play, directed by well-known Nova Scotia director Mary Vingoe, featured a cast of noted Canadian actors including John Beale, David Hughes, Sarah English, Mary-Colin Chisholm and Karen Bassett. It was produced by Lisa Rose Snow.
Snow is negotiating to bring the play to other parts of Canada.
Home is a hit with Halifax audiences