Monday, February 3, 2014

The Postman

Today I started participating in a 2 week workshop production of The Postman, a site-specific play about Toronto's first black postman, Albert Jackson.

Director David Ferry conceived of the piece when he first heard about Jackson who was the son of a runaway slave and single mother who brought him as a babe in arms plus 4 other children to Toronto via the Underground Railroad from Delaware, essentially walking.  Jackson had to endure racism from his fellow postmen until Sir John A. MacDonald, prime minister of Canada, used his hiring and the refusal to let him work as a postman as an election issue, which enabled him to actually begin to do the job he was hired to do.  He went on to deliver the mail for over 30 years AND ended up owning 9 houses in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto.  There is a lane way just off Harbord Street in Toronto named after him.

The show's conceived to be staged on the actual porches of the houses he delivered mail to near Albert Jackson Lane.  Several different writers are working on different "porches" and I'm doing a couple of scenes that will be part of the show.

Twenty years ago I learned that there were visiting scholars from India at the University of Toronto going back to the 1850's and since then I've wanted to do something dramatic with that piece of forgotten history.  For so long, Victorian Toronto has been portrayed as strictly an Anglo-Saxon place and when this opportunity was presented, I realized I could show a Toronto where a black man and and Indian man could have actually met.  So I wrote a scene where that happens.  It becomes about belonging which is a theme I've written more often than not both on TV and now stage.

There are a group of fantastic actors and musicians involved in this workshop and I really hope the show gets funding to be produced for the public next year.

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