THE HEART OF THINGS

THE HEART OF THINGS

Inspired by a true story of tragedy in a Nova Scotia fishing community that catapults the sexuality of a young fisher into conflict with deeply rooted prejudices in their community. 

In The Heart of Things, a young fisher, Junior, hangs himself to death from the mast of his boat. The fallout from the tragedy inspires his twin, Bren, to act on their lifetime dream, to be accepted as a fisher. Their determination puts their own sexuality in direct conflict with deeply rooted prejudices in their community. 

Fishing is recognized as one of the most dangerous occupations in Canada today. The Canadian Mental Health Association says, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people after motor vehicle accidents.” Stress from bank loans, declining fish stocks, extreme climate, international trawlers, ocean pollution, technology and fish sticks are the context for Dr. Simon Sherry, Dalhousie University raising the alarm recently on CBC Radio – the suicide rate among young male fishers has grown recently to be the highest in Canada.

From the composer of The Heart of Things, John Plant, “The Heart of Things deals with the struggle for gender equality, sexual identity, the ecological and economic realities of the fisher's life, suicide, sexual abuse, generational tensions, the intricate web of family relationships with the structure, resonance and complexity of classical Greek tragedy. It manages to do this without preaching, by creating indelible, moving characters and thrusting us into their very particular world. As the play unfolds, its themes evolve in a way which irresistibly suggests music: non-linear, contrapuntal, with contrasts between subtly modulating continuity and abrupt, stark juxtapositions. The stage directions frequently include verbal descriptions for music of a symphonic character. There are passages which are more like recitative, others which amount to 'arias,' in which a lyrical expansiveness transforms the flow of time.” 

Underneath the desperation is fishers’ love and will to survive in a maritime fishing village, a culture on the brink of its own extinction. What’s at stake for us is what we will eat when the last source of wild fresh protein is gone.

Uniquely, the vocalization for music drama The Heart of Things relies on actors rather than trained singers for its realization. What we are calling a spoken-word opera is motivated by an interest in exploring emotional delivery in the territory ‘between-speech-and-song’ for actors; the voice, sometimes rhythmical, theatrical, at times to intensify and clarify the literal meaning of the text, at times evacuating the meaning of the words, using them as abstract live sound. 

In a customized approach to the workshop Heat Theatre has booked into for one week through Memory Lane Heritage Museum on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore their Clam Factory, a large, private, bright, gallery/performance space with access to washrooms and kitchen. The Clam Factory supports a safe working atmosphere where artists explore with vocalized sound and technology to integrate the full music score for The Heart of Things.

The text, created by Wanda R. Graham, an award-winning theatre artist living in the fishing village of Sambro, Nova Scotia was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Arts Nova Scotia. The Production Draft was created after a two-week development workshop with Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, May 2018, dramaturge Maureen Labonté. The soundscape, created by John Plant, was supported by Arts Nova Scotia and recommended for funding by the Canada Council for the Arts.  

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THE HEART OF THINGS

October, 2023

THE HEART OF THINGS

Inspired by a true story of tragedy in a Nova Scotia fishing community that catapults the sexuality of a young fisher into conflict with deeply rooted prejudices in their community. 

In The Heart of Things, a young fisher, Junior, hangs himself to death from the mast of his boat. The fallout from the tragedy inspires his twin, Bren, to act on their lifetime dream, to be accepted as a fisher. Their determination puts their own sexuality in direct conflict with deeply rooted prejudices in their community. 

Fishing is recognized as one of the most dangerous occupations in Canada today. The Canadian Mental Health Association says, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people after motor vehicle accidents.” Stress from bank loans, declining fish stocks, extreme climate, international trawlers, ocean pollution, technology and fish sticks are the context for Dr. Simon Sherry, Dalhousie University raising the alarm recently on CBC Radio – the suicide rate among young male fishers has grown recently to be the highest in Canada.

From the composer of The Heart of Things, John Plant, “The Heart of Things deals with the struggle for gender equality, sexual identity, the ecological and economic realities of the fisher's life, suicide, sexual abuse, generational tensions, the intricate web of family relationships with the structure, resonance and complexity of classical Greek tragedy. It manages to do this without preaching, by creating indelible, moving characters and thrusting us into their very particular world. As the play unfolds, its themes evolve in a way which irresistibly suggests music: non-linear, contrapuntal, with contrasts between subtly modulating continuity and abrupt, stark juxtapositions. The stage directions frequently include verbal descriptions for music of a symphonic character. There are passages which are more like recitative, others which amount to 'arias,' in which a lyrical expansiveness transforms the flow of time.” 

Underneath the desperation is fishers’ love and will to survive in a maritime fishing village, a culture on the brink of its own extinction. What’s at stake for us is what we will eat when the last source of wild fresh protein is gone.

Uniquely, the vocalization for music drama The Heart of Things relies on actors rather than trained singers for its realization. What we are calling a spoken-word opera is motivated by an interest in exploring emotional delivery in the territory ‘between-speech-and-song’ for actors; the voice, sometimes rhythmical, theatrical, at times to intensify and clarify the literal meaning of the text, at times evacuating the meaning of the words, using them as abstract live sound. 

In a customized approach to the workshop Heat Theatre has booked into for one week through Memory Lane Heritage Museum on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore their Clam Factory, a large, private, bright, gallery/performance space with access to washrooms and kitchen. The Clam Factory supports a safe working atmosphere where artists explore with vocalized sound and technology to integrate the full music score for The Heart of Things.

The text, created by Wanda R. Graham, an award-winning theatre artist living in the fishing village of Sambro, Nova Scotia was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Arts Nova Scotia. The Production Draft was created after a two-week development workshop with Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, May 2018, dramaturge Maureen Labonté. The soundscape, created by John Plant, was supported by Arts Nova Scotia and recommended for funding by the Canada Council for the Arts.  

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The conversation starts with you... 

Our sponsorship goal of $8,000 ensures this unique and important production happens. Any and all donations will receive a tax receipt and Heat Theatre will guarantee two seats at the world premiere production of The Heart of Things, as well as a business card size ad in our program and website.

Additionally, you can simply purchase a spot in the program for $50. Sponsors on the Eastern Shore have already stepped up to build this network.

Make a commitment by donating today.