Homegrown: a true story

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Homegrown
Written byCatherine Frid
Date premieredAugust 5, 2010
Place premieredTheatre Passe Muraille
Original languageEnglish
SubjectThe friendship between a terrorist suspect and a writer
SettingToronto detention center

Homegrown is a play about a friendship between a terrorist suspect and a writer.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] It is based on the actual friendship that developed between Toronto writer Catherine Frid and Shareef Abdelhaleem, who was arrested with 17 other Muslims from the Greater Toronto Area.

According to theatre critic Richard Ouzounian the Prime Minister's Office warned the public that the play presented a sympathetic portrayal of a terrorist—before the play had been performed.[7]

David Akin, an Ottawa based political reporter for the Toronto Sun, described the play as being important enough to justify traveling from Ottawa to Toronto for the play's premiere.[4] The Washington Times republished one of Akin's articles on the play.[11] According to Michael Wheeler, a prominent Canadian playwright, Akin "broke ranks" with the rest of the Parliamentary press gallery when he asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper about Homegrown prior to its opening night.[12] According to Wheeler all reporters had agreed upon a question about a prominent issue of the day which they would all ask if they were called upon for a question from the Prime Minister.

Some local writers and politicians were critical of the play, for what they described as its sympathetic portrayal of a "terrorist".[3] Critics asserted that Frid should not have received government arts council funding to help support her writing the play. Frid defended her portrayal on the grounds that the case against Shareef was more complicated than was generally understood. James Moore, the Heritage Minister cancelled funding for Summerworks in June 2011.[13] Reporters widely assumed that the cancellation of support for SummerWorks was a politically motivated reaction to Frid's play.[14] In response theatres across the country scheduled readings of the play.[12][15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "PMO claims SummerWorks play "glorifies terrorism," only Toronto Sun agrees". Toronto Life. 2010-08-10. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-08-10.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ James Bradshaw (2010-08-05). "Festival head takes issue with PMO criticism of play". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-03-16. The Prime Minister’s Office was misguided in condemning a new play about a convicted "Toronto 18" terrorist, says the head of the festival presenting it.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ a b Don Peat (2010-07-30). "Sympathy for the devil". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-08-09. Homegrown’s playwright Catherine Frid says the play is a "sympathetic portrayal" of Abdelhaleem, not of a terrorist. "He wasn’t planning to blow up Bay and Front Street with a truck bomb," Frid said. "People don’t know the whole story behind Shareef’s conviction, I’m not speaking for all the Toronto 18, I’m just focusing on the one person I met and whose case I followed and I’m telling that story."CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ a b David Akin (2010-08-06). "At the theatre to see the charming terrorist". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-08-10. But if this play really is, as Frid and Summerworks advertise in their promotional material, about 'separating fact from hype in the face of the uncertainty, delays and secrecy in his case', then much more is needed from the playwright.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ David Akin (2010-08-06). "Latest culture battle: One-act play about terrorism a target in Tories' arts clash; will strategy win votes?". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-08-10. A spokesman for Stephen Harper says the PMO is "extremely disappointed" federal tax dollars are being used by a Toronto theatre festival to stage a play which, in the playwright’s own words, offers up a "sympathetic portrayal" of a convicted terrorist.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. ^ David Akin (2010-08-03). "PMO frowns on terror play funding". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2010-08-10. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office says it is "extremely disappointed" federal funds went to a theatre festival that will stage a play this week that features, in the words of the playwright, a "sympathetic portrayal" of a convicted terrorist who plotted to blow up the heart of Toronto's financial district. mirror
  7. ^ a b Richard Ouzounian (2010-08-06). "Homegrown: Two wrongs don't make for a very good play". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-08-10. Definitely not a play that supports or romanticizes terrorism, but one that raises some interesting questions about the government's purchase of undercover "moles" to entrap and deliver so-called terrorists, often at prices well into the millions.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ Steve Murray (2010-08-12). "Homegrown theatre fury means everyone loses except the terrorists". National Post. The federal public money in this case was $35,000 for 41 one-act plays, which means that, theoretically, $854 went to Homegrown.
  9. ^ Tom Godfrey (2010-08-06). "Audience raves for play about convicted terrorist". Toronto Sun. It was two thumbs up from theatre goers for the debut of a controversial play based on the Toronto 18 terror ring. About 150 people packed the Theatre Passe Muraille on Ryerson Ave., Thursday night to check out Homegrown, a 70-minute play based on one of the suspects.
  10. ^ Erica Basnicki (2010-08-06). "9/11 victim's daughter slams terror play". Toronto Sun.
  11. ^ David Akin (2010-08-08). "Culture Briefs: Corporate motive". Washington Times.
  12. ^ a b Michael Wheeler (2011-07-31). "Defunding alternative voices: The Tories' funding cuts to the SummerWorks Festival reflect a broader agenda to silence critics". The Mark News. Archived from the original on 2012-05-06. Retrieved 2012-05-06. The trouble started last August, when Sun Media’s David Akin broke ranks with the media pool. With the rest of the journalists at Rideau Hall agreeing to ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper a question about the long-form census, Akin used one of two English-language questions available to the press to ask about Catherine Frid’s play Homegrown, which had just played at SummerWorks.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  13. ^ J. Kelly Nestruck (2011-12-25). "The year on stage: box office records, funding fiascos". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-05-06. In a year in which shows born at SummerWorks won the Governor General's Award (Erin Shields' If We Were Birds) and Toronto Theatre Critics Award (The Middle Place), the Toronto indie theatre festival also inexplicably lost the financial support of the feds’ Heritage department after years of funding.
  14. ^ Martin DeGroot (2011-07-15). "Toronto theatre festival prevails despite funding debacle". Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Archived from the original on 2012-05-06. Retrieved 2012-05-06. It looks like the decision not to provide Heritage Canada funding support for Toronto’sSummerWorks Theatre Festival this year is the result of political interference in the normal granting process, but without an official explanation of some kind this can only be a matter of conjecture. We know that the Harper government objected to the content of Homegrown, a play by Catherine Frid based on prison interviews with a convicted member of the "Toronto 18" conspiracy that was presented at SummerWorks last year.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  15. ^ "Benefit reading boosts SummerWorks theatre fest". CBC News. 2011-07-16. Archived from the original on 2012-05-06. Retrieved 2012-05-06. Dozens of theatre companies across Canada presented staged readings of Catherine Frid's controversial play Homegrown on Friday night — a show of unity and support for Toronto's SummerWorks Theatre Festival, which recently had its funding cut by the federal government.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  16. ^ Kathy Rumleski (2011-07-14). "Theatres protest funding cut". London Free Press. Archived from the original on 2012-05-06. Retrieved 2012-05-06. Theatre companies from across the country are staging protest readings Friday in support of a festival whose funding has been cut by the federal government.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)