Development Series



During a total war with the United States over natural resources, Nina, a spy, and Patrick, a soldier, meet by chance in an abandoned house on the curve of the Rideau river. Patrick has deserted his regiment, walking the long kilometres between Kingston and Ottawa. Nina has vital information, the missing puzzle piece in her long efforts to ascertain what exactly brought this cataclysmic war about. Through a harsh winter landscape, Nina and Patrick make a perilous voyage from the rural south into the city proper, all the while hunted by a hostile force. In Act II, Nina and Patrick arrive at different times in the safer climes of Germany. Nina is hot on the trail of Patrick, whom she suspects of being a double agent. After linking all the proof, Nina realises the war has been fomented by a small group of traitors, including Patrick, in collusion with the Americans for personal profit, and she must decide what to do with this knowledge. This play explores the tension between trust and self-interest in an extreme landscape which is uncomfortably close to home. The layers and complexities of Nina and Patrick’s relationship form a shifting plane of engagement, inviting the audience into intrigue and surprise. As much as it is about a personal relationship, it is also about international politics in an unstable and reckless time, disquietingly close to our own. Through this personal relationship, the audience should hear uncomfortable echoes of their own dis/comfort in our current political realm and what it might become. It is set across the landscape of a destroyed Ottawa Valley and the highly rigorous and cosmopolitan setting of Hamburg. The action of the play currently spans at least three years. Linked to the setting is the physical circumstance of the play: a deep, unyielding winter, suggesting a climate changed by human action.


This reading Happened on Zoom.

Date: June 13th, 2021 at 7PM EDT


“Nobody wants to see a man die, but everyone wants to be there when it happens.”

——————-Harry Houdini

In Terminally Ill you will follow the story of Elvis “the Escape King”.

He chains and nails himself inside a coffin and lowers himself into the St. Lawrence River as an homage to Houdini, nearly a century after the great artist’s death. When Elvis fails to break free, Dr. Hope Sze and John Tucker struggle to smash open his coffin and restart his heart.

Who tried to kill Elvis? And why?

And so, Hope plunges into her most terminal adventure. Where the magical art of escape and the dastardly art of crime vie for centre stage, and the better man may lose. Forever.

A play by Melissa “Yi” Yuan-Innes
Director/Dramaturg: John Koensgen
Actors: Shirley Manh, Sheldon Parathundyil, Melissa Landry
and Ray Besharah