By Wendy Elliott
Ken Schwartz, artistic director at Two Planks and a Passion Theatre in Canning, was recognized at Tyrone Guthrie Awards at the Stratford Festival recently.
Schwartz was awarded the Elliott Hayes Playwright Development Fund worth $600. Established in memory of Hayes, former literary manager at Stratford, the fund exists to support and encourage new works for the theatre written by present and former members of the Stratford Festival Company and staff.
Schwartz has spent part of the last two seasons at Stratford. At the same time, his company launched a ‘Fire and Faith’ campaign to raise $10,000 toward the next season at Ross Creek, which are being accepted until Sept. 30.
Following the success of its critically acclaimed 2013 season, Two Planks aims to raise funds for its 2014 season.
The online campaign is raising funds for productions of The Miracle Man by Allen Cole and Michael O’Brien and Joan by Fire, a new telling of the legend of St. Joan, which will be adapted by Schwartz.
“Both the productions, while very different from each other in form and presentation, concern the central importance of faith, in all its forms, in our history and our lives today,” he said. “Regardless of what role religion might or might not play in your life, faith is something we all relate to in our own way.”
Miracle Man is the story of a group of con artists who set out to con a faith healer, only to be unexpectedly touched by miracles themselves. Joan by Fire is the story of Joan of Arc, who leads the French army to victory by claiming she spoke directly to God, only to be burned at the stake for heresy.
Meanwhile, audiences for Two Planks and a Passion’s hit summer show, The Iliad, contributed just over $400 in August toward a national cause that aids entertainment professionals.
“When I heard Seana McKenna, actor and board member of the Actors’ Fund of Canada, speak about the important work of the fund earlier this year, I knew that I wanted Two Planks and a Passion to be a part of supporting this great cause,” Schwartz said.
The Actors' Fund of Canada is a registered charity that provides short-term financial aid to Canadian entertainment industry professionals. It has helped over 11,000 entertainment industry members since it was founded in 1958. Without government funding, the Actors’ Fund is the only charity of its kind in Canada. www.actorsfund.ca