The Speedy

Kaleb Alexander, Michaela Washburn and Keith Barker. Photo by Erin Gerofsky

Created by CHRIS HANRATTY and SHIRA LEUCHTER

Written by KEITH BARKER, CHRIS HANRATTY, SHIRA LEUCHTER, and JORDI MAND

Directed by CHRIS HANRATTY

Performed by KALEB ALEXANDER, KEITH BARKER, SHIRA LEUCHTER, AND MICHAELA WASHBURN

Scenogrpahy by TREVOR SCHWELLNUS

Shira Leuchter. Photo by Erin Gerofsky

Sound Design by SAMUEL SHOLDICE

Costumes and Prop Design by ERIN FRANCES GEROFSKY

Choreography by MONICA DOTTOR

Production Management by SARAH 'PIP' BRADFORD

Stage Management by LAURA COURNOYEA

Translation by MARJORIE TRUDEAU

 

It’s late. Let’s say it’s after sunset. October 7th 1804. Apparently there’s a moderate breeze from the northwest. And the boat? That boat was speedy in name only.

Hastily built in 1798, the 80-foot Speedy already had dry rot. It was so rotten that its captain refused the assignment to sail it that night, and only relented under threat of a court martial.

So he sailed it under protest.

The boat carried some of the most important citizens of the day.  It was headed to Newcastle from Toronto’s harbour (modern day Queen’s Quay) to try a case against Ogetonicut, a Chippewa man who was to stand trial for killing a white fur trader. The white man had murdered Ogetonicut’s brother, Whistling Duck, in 1803. Governor Hunter promised a quick trial, but no justice was ever served. And so the following year, Ogetonicut took his revenge. And justice followed more swiftly this time.

This trial could have changed history. Many thought that Newcastle would eventually replace York as the capital of Upper Canada; York was considered unseemly because of its large constituency of criminals and sex workers.

But the ship went down. Maybe it was trecherous weather, or the mysterious Sophiasburg Triangle or maybe it was the rumoured curse that Ogetonicut’s mother, Bitterskin, had placed on the men who were taking her son away. In any regard,  Newcastle was deemed too difficult and dangerous to travel to. And so York remained the capital of the Province.

At least 20 passengers were lost on the Speedy, including the judge of the court of the King’s bench, various solicitors and their slaves, a high constable – the first known Ontario police officer to have been killed in the line of duty, a land surveyor, an interpretor, two children, and of course Ogetonicut. Also lost were six hand-written copies of the Constitution of Upper Canada.

All that was found of the wreckage was a compass box and a chicken coop.

 

The Speedy is currently being be taught at the University of Toronto as a part of the English Department’s course Literature for Our Time and at the University of Windsor in the drama department.

 

REVIEWS:

"...inspired, beautiful theatre with integrity..."

- Mooney on Theatre

"This is a piece of high-minded theatre that works. It does so much. It’s a history-cum-historiography lesson crossed with a tale of the high seas with dry wit and some scathing dismantling of revisionist bullshit to boot. Toronto, revel in its glory."

- The Charlebois Post


A HARBOURFRONT CENTRE FRESH GROUND NEW WORKS COMMISSION

This production would not have been possible without the generous support of numerous people. We would like to thank Lwam Ghebrehariat, ArtHeart Community Art Centre, Cahoots Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, Jessica Carmichael, Aluna Theatre, Norman Forman, Chris Mutton, Amy Jo Scherman, Marjorie Trudeau, Rose Marie Trudeau, Jeffrey Trudeau, Milie Desmoulin, Audrey Wemigwans, Micah Donovan and The Gardiner Museum, Isaac Thomas, Catherine Butler, Marie Gaudet, Michelle Polack, Calla, Charlie and Holden, and especially Tina Rasmussen, Chris Reynolds and everyone at Harbourfront Centre.