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.” 

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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.” 

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Thank you for your time and interest in The Heart of Things. And come see us, (hopefully in person) October 2023. Tickets for limited seating will be available through Heat’s website and at Memory Lane Heritage Village.

 

Background and development  The Heart of Things 

The Heart of Things is a drama with music for actors, an opera to be spoken not sung. Inspired by a true story, this opera contains blood, suicide, molestation, frustration directed at government departments, one kiss, and a great deal of love, laughter, and joy, at who fishers are, and for what they do when they are out in their boats.

Wanda R. Graham, an award-winning theatre artist living in the fishing village of Sambro, created the text, 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. Internationally renowned composer John Plant, who also lives on one of Nova Scotia’s dramatic seashores, created the soundtrack and was music director for Heat’s one-week workshop supported by Arts Nova Scotia and Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre. The soundscape, created by John Plant, was supported by Arts Nova Scotia, and recommended for funding by the Canada Council for the Arts.

The spoken-word opera is a reality that Heat is delighted and honoured to share through productiin October 2023 with community partner Memory Lane Heritage Village.

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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