Playwrights donate their time to help the homeless

Four plays were performed in the Black Box Theatre on March 22 to raise money for Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

Two actors, Megan Murphy and Circe Caine, sat centre stage in the Black Box Theatre at St. Thomas University and mourned the loss of their “fat, fat” cat, named Shoebox.

They were performing in a play called Shoebox, written by STU grad Anthony Bryan. His play was part of the Act of Kindness Festival that took place on March 22. It was organized by second-year STU philosophy student Jason McIntyre.

The event began as a playwriting competition, but grew into something bigger.

“The original idea was just to make a platform for artists and for scripts. And then I kind of had this idea to combine [it]. How can we do that and also make it more meaningful,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre decided to make the proceeds raised from the event go to the Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc.

22nd Century Digital Boy was written by Jared Mallard and directed by Raine O’Connor. Mallard was inspired to write this play after seeing everyone on their phones in a grocery store line. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

“There are a lot of shelters that struggle to stay open because the government doesn’t fund them properly,” McIntyre said. “So I just really encourage people to spend their time in ways which benefit people in our community who need the help.”

A group of directors sifted through nine one-act plays submitted by the public. Four of them were chosen to be presented at the festival.

The chosen plays included Shoebox directed by Carter Scott; The Bride written by Brianna Parker Tarasco and directed by Nolan Goguen; 22nd Century Digital Boy and American Thunder Bust, both written by Jared Mallard and directed by Raine O’Connor.

McIntyre said he chose directors for the project who hadn’t had the opportunity to direct a play, and actors who didn’t have a lot of experience.

Shoebox, the longest of the four shows, follows two sisters who came together over the death of their cat and bond over an album their late brother produced before he died.

The director, Scott, said it’s a special script that stood out to him as soon as he read it.

“It’s this wonderful story of connection between life and death and the connections you make posthumously to people,” Scott said.

“It’s the connection, more specifically, we can make with the dead through music.”

Bryan wrote all of the music for Shoebox. He said it was easy to do because he wanted the music to be bad. So, he listened to a bunch of mumble rap, a genre of hip-hop that puts little emphasis on lyrics, to inspire the music in his play.

The main theme of the play was inspired by his own brothers, Alex and Matthew. Bryan said he misses not seeing his teenage brothers grow up.

“I’m going to miss telling them like, ‘Oh, don’t do these drugs, don’t watch that porn – that’s bad porn,” Bryan said.

O’Connor directed two of Mallard’s works. Mallard said he was inspired to write 22nd Century Digital Boy after seeing everyone on their phones in a grocery store line. He admitted it could just be that he watched too much Black Mirror on Netflix, however.

O’Connor was eager to be one of the directors in the Act of Kindness Festival. She was glad to raise awareness around homelessness in Fredericton.

“Even if you’re not in a position to donate money, donating time is something that’s really important. Or really just raising awareness, just talking about it and not ignoring the issue as if it’s not something that could affect you,” O’Connor said.

The festival along with the fundraising done beforehand at Chapter’s raised $814.45 for Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc.