PMO claims SummerWorks play “glorifies terrorism,” only Toronto Sun agrees
We don’t expect SummerWorks Theatre Festival will send the Prime Minister’s Office a thank you card any time soon, but the latter’s reaction to one of their plays sure has given the festival a hell of a lot of publicity. Earlier this week, the PMO condemned Catherine Frid’s Homegrown, a one-act play about a lawyer who delves into the case of an imprisoned member of the so-called Toronto 18, saying they’re “extremely disappointed” that federal money was being used to fund plays that “glorify terrorism.” PMO spokesman Andrew MacDougall told the Globe, “Had [the Toronto 18] succeeded, there would have been literally thousands of people dead. Let’s not forget, they wanted to behead the prime minister, too.” The thing is, the play isn’t about glorifying terrorism.
Homegrown is based on prison interviews Frid conducted with convicted Toronto 18 member Shareef Abdelhaleem, but isn’t a “sympathetic portrayal.” Rather, it is an account of one lawyer’s obsession with the case. “They’re quoting on something they clearly know nothing about,” SumerWorks’s artistic producer Michael Rubenfeld said. The Toronto Sun, on the other hand, published an editorial slamming the play, calling Abdelhaleem “the object of Frid’s affection.”
The festival’s corporate sponsors have reacted with a resounding “meh.” TD Canada Trust and RBC, whose headquarters would have been leveled had the Toronto 18 plans gone through, have stood by their donations. “The intention of our sponsorship of SummerWorks is to encourage and support young artists,” said TD Spokesman Matthew Cram. So the banks are more progressive than our government. That’s something we never thought we’d see.