Featured Artist(s): Stephen Near, Aaron Joel Craig, and Lisa O’Connell

Our next featured artist is actually three artists – the creative team of playwright Stephen Near, director Aaron Joel Craig, and dramaturge Lisa O’Connell. The staged reading of their original play An Ordinary Asset is sure to be an exciting part of the FOOT 2016 programming:

This dramatic play tells the story of a troubled Canadian Forces officer who commits treason by working for Russian intelligence and how the fall-out of this crime forces him to confront ever deeper secrets in his mundane life and down the rabbit hole of his work as a spy. Although a fictional play, the story is directly inspired by the real case of convicted Canadian spy Jeffrey Delisle whose life presents a compelling narrative of false fronts and secrets in the world of espionage and online gaming as well as his seemingly ordinary life as a husband and father.
As a playwright, I was captivated not just by Delisle’s story but also by the highly theatrical transcript of his confession to the RCMP. This transcript formed the basis for a first draft of the play written with the assistance of a Theatre Creators’ Reserve grant through Theatre Aquarius and a subsequent workshop by Pat the Dog Theatre Creation. In this first draft, I made extensive use of selected text from DeLisle’s interrogation along with a variety of media and government reports as a source for the creation of the script. But DeLisle’s prominence as the foundation for the play’s fictional narrative has always presented me with a challenge: how much should the play reflect the reality of Delisle’s life and how much should be the artifice of the fictional character?

Stephen Near (Playwright)
Stephen Near is a playwright and performer. He grew up in Ottawa, ON, graduated BFA from York University and lives in Hamilton with his wife and daughter. His plays have been performed across Canada in such festivals as the Ottawa Fringe, the Toronto Fringe, the Hamilton Fringe, New Ideas, and Summerworks. He is an alumnus of the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Banff Centre and has studied playwriting with Linda Griffiths, David Copelin, Daniel MacIvor, Brian Quirt, and Beverley Cooper. Stephen is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) and the Theatre Aquarius Playwrights Unit and co-founded the Same Boat Theatre Company in Hamilton. In 2015, he established the First Stage Series of new play development at the Players Guild of Hamilton and currently works to raise the profile of Canadian playwrights as the Southern Ontario caucus rep for the PGC’s national forum. Stephen also graduated B. Ed from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and has taught playwriting and directing at both Etobicoke School for the Arts and Mohawk College. Playwriting credits include Shadow Court (2005 Toronto Fringe), Interface (2011 Hamilton Fringe – New Play Contest 1st Prize), Plain Speak (2012 HamiltTEN Festival), Monstrous Invisible (Theatre Aquarius, 40th Season), Test (2013 Hamilton Fringe – New Play Contest 2nd Runner-Up), The Conspiracy of Michael (2014 Hamilton Fringe), Finding Mr. Right (Same Boat Theatre) The Conspiracy of Michael, Test, and Interface (Reaching Symmetry), All My Sons (Players Guild of Hamilton), The Bridge (HamilTEN), and The End and the Beginning (ClipClop Productions). Upcoming he will perform in Same Boat Theatre’s production of Two Rooms.

Aaron Joel Craig (Director)
Aaron Joel Craig is a theatre director and performer. He grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, studied Theatre Performance at Redeemer University and lives in Hamilton with his wife, Cath and daughter, Georgia. Directing credits include Finding Mr. Right with Same Boat Theatre, Conspiracy of Michael andTest for Reaching Symmetry, inbetween.places for Make Art Theatre, Power Play for Redeemer University and The End and the Beginning for ClipClop Productions. Performing credits include A Modicum of Freedom, Don Quixote, and Orpheus with Make Art Theatre. Upcoming he will perform in Same Boat Theatre’s production of Two Rooms.
Lisa O’Connell (Dramaturge)
Lisa O’Connell is the founding Artistic Director of Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, the only playwright centre in Ontario open to theatre creators at all stages of their career. PTD playwrights’ work has been presented at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, SummerWorks Theatre Festival, MT Space Theatre, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Theatre Aquarius, The Grand Theatre, among others. O’Connell serves on the Advocacy Committee of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Artistic Practices Committee of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres and is a member of several Municipal Cultural Steering Committees. She is the recipient of a Special Jury Award (2015) and the Gowlings Literary Award (2010) from Arts Awards Waterloo and delivered the closing Keynote address at the Canadian Association of Theatre Researchers Conference in 2013. O’Connell has been published in Canadian Theatre Review, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, among others.




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