DIRECTOR ANN HODGES ON WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A HEROINE
The world premiere of Torn Through Time opens on January 25th at MTYP. The play features three young girls who went on to being trailblazers, including Thanadelthur (a Dene peacemaker from the 1700’s), Helen Harrison (one of the first Canadian female pilots in the 1920’s) and Rose Fortune (the first North American female police officer from the 1780’s.) Torn Through Time is now in rehearsals and Director Ann Hodges caught us up on the project.
What was the genesis of Torn Through Time?
Carrie Costello (one of the playwrights) found it challenging finding stories about female heroes to read to her three daughters. Then she found a book called 100 Canadian Heroines and thought about putting some of these characters into a play. She invited Frances Koncan and Cherissa Richards onto the project to write a play together about the kind of heroes that we don’t often hear about.
Tell us more about the three trailblazers that are featured in the play.
Well, to be precise, Torn Through Time shows us the three trailblazers as children before they grow up to become heroes. So they don’t even know they are trailblazers yet. We meet Jess, a young girl doing a homework assignment in 2019 who accidentally uproots three historical girls from the past. As they all get to know each other and go on a bit of an adventure together, we see the first glimpses of their heroic potential: their skills and talents, and how they begin to become aware of these qualities within each of them.
Even though the play only hints at it, later all three do become accomplished, powerful and influential women. For example, Thanadelthur was a Dene woman in the 1700s who led a party of 150 Cree and some members of the Hudson’s Bay Company to make peace between the Cree and the Dene. Through her commitment to peace and her skills in many languages, she helped forge peace and assisted in opening up Canada’s north – and she did this all before the age of 20! Helen Harrison was an extremely skilled pilot, flying many different types of aircraft and getting her pilot’s license in many different countries. She was so well-respected that she was enlisted to train male air force pilots during World War II. However, due to the prejudices of the time, despite her having over 2,600 hours of flying time, she was rejected from flying in the RCAF herself. Rose Fortune was a Black Loyalist in the mid-1800’s who, as a child, carried luggage on the docks of Annapolis Royal. She eventually turned that work into a successful cartage business. Her concern for young children hanging around the docks area, her experience safeguarding property and the trust she had earned from the people of the town resulted in her becoming the well-respected ‘law and order’ in the waterfront area. She is credited as being North America’s first female police officer.
What do you hope young audiences will get out of Torn Through Time?
I’d love audiences to think about what makes a hero. Is it an accomplishment? A sacrifice? Generosity? All three? I’d love them to go home thinking about the possibility that they too, like the four young women in the play, have the potential to be heroic and do heroic things. That their skills, interests and knowledge could be harnessed to accomplish amazing things in the lives of others. I hope this play will help audiences develop a curiosity about other heroes in our world – heroes that they may not have heard of, who may not wear a cape or pull people out of burning buildings, but who are changing the world for the better.