Encore to stage Lara Bradley's play in September
In her previous job as a local reporter, Lara Bradley was doing some research on Sudbury's history when she came across the term “blind pig.”
They were establishments — often set up in shacks — that illegally sold alcoholic beverages, and were habitually raided by police.
This little piece of historic knowledge sparked artistic inspiration for Bradley, now a communications officer with the North East Local Health Integration Network, who dabbles in creative writing.
Two years ago, she participated in Playwright's Junction, a Sudbury Theatre Centre program that helps aspiring playwrights hone their craft.
That's where she wrote the first draft of "Blind Nickel Pig," which focuses on a cast of characters hanging around a blind pig in Sudbury back in 1909.
Bradley said she'd never written a play before, but had been involved in theatre as a student at Sudbury Secondary School and Laurentian University.
After Playwright's Junction, Sudbury Theatre Centre playwright-in-residence Matt Heiti, who co-ordinates the program, suggested she take "Blind Nickel Pig" to the next level.
Over the past year, her play has been workshopped by Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, an organization supporting playwrights.
“I've always loved Lara's writing,” Heiti said. “I think it was a natural kind of fit.”
It was at one of these workshops in May of last year — appropriately dubbed Play Smelter — that "Blind Nickel Pig" attracted the attention of Callam Rodya, Encore Theatre Company's artistic director.
After Rodya saw a read-through of the play, he knew he wanted to stage it. Now he's gotten his wish. Although Encore is still working out the details, "Blind Nickel Pig" will be produced by the theatre company in September.
It even has the money to do it. Last fall, Encore received a $14,500 cheque from the Ontario Arts Council to defray the costs of staging the production.
Without the grant, it would have been “difficult and really daunting” to stage the play, especially given it requires a large ensemble cast that needs to be paid, Rodya said.
One of the theatre company's goals has been to stage the work of local playwrights, and "Blind Nickel Pig" is a perfect fit, he said.
“(Bradley) really does have a brilliant voice as a playwright, and is really great at creating narrative and creating great dialogue,” Rodya said.
While it's been a lot of work getting it ready — she's on her eighth draft — Bradley said she's thrilled her play is finally going to be staged.
“Oh my god, yeah,” she said. “I can't wait to see it.”
Encore Theatre Company is currently in the process of searching for a downtown space to stage its plays this year.
The troupe plans on formally launching its 2014 season — and announcing details of all of its productions — when this space is secured.