Playwright's POV Issue 3 - Political Chill And Artistic Courage by Arthur Milner
This past February, Michael Healey left his position as resident playwright at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre. Healey is an actor and playwright, author of the The Drawer Boy, one of Canada’s best and most successful plays. Tarragon has been, for years, perhaps Canada’s most respected theatre company.
Healey told the CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti (The Current, February 7, 2012) that he resigned after the Tarragon decided it would not produce his new play. Proud “takes place in the Prime Minister’s office.The character is never called anything other than ‘Prime Minister.’ ... it is absolutely this government that I want to discuss and examine.” The main character, said Healey, is “nakedly our Prime Minister.”
According to Healey, “there was anxiety among members of the Board, I understand, that the possibility of libel existed. … I went out and hired a libel lawyer myself to vet the play, and he responded, in fairly bald, unambiguous terms, that the play isn’t libelous.”
Proud is the third play in a trilogy. The Tarragon had produced the first two. “I had hoped they’d produce this third one, and I just thought, if they don’t produce my plays, then I don’t really understand what our relationship is, and maybe it’s time for me to give up my office to a younger writer.”
These are the facts as we know them. The theatre has yet to make a public statement.
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