Fringe settlement leads to fringe theatre production by ProQuest

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[Erin Brandenburg] also starred as Anna, 12 years old when she, her father and brother arrived in [Thomas Reesor] at Mile 103 of the CNR track between Cochrane and Hearst, in the dark, to find no settlement awaiting them. All they find is an abandoned attempt to settle with the sign "Given up, help yourself." Much of the play happens as Anna recites letters she is writing to her sister, who has not accompanied them to Canada from Ukraine, but who, according to her father, will soon follow with their mother. In the course of the play we find that Anna, her father and brother had fled Ukraine after an attack by bandits. Anna managed to hide, but her last sight of her sister was of her standing in the middle of the yard in her night gown. No one will follow.

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									                                                                                    Canadian Mennonite April 13, 2009                    23


                               Artbeat
                                                                                               Of mice, men
Fringe settlement leads to                                                                     and Menno
fringe theatre production                                                                      Rockway Mennonite Collegiate
                                                                                               Grade 9 class learns social
Reesor, the play, transcends Mennonite particularity                                           justice from Steinbeck novella
By Dave Ro gal sk y                                                                            By Dave Ro gal sk y
eastern canada correspondent                                                                   eastern canada correspondent
toronto                                                                                        Kitchener, ont.


I  n 1925 Thomas Reesor, a Mennonite
   pastor from Markham, Ont., assisted a
group of Russian Mennonite refugees from
                                               All they find is an abandoned attempt to
                                               settle with the sign “Given up, help your-
                                               self.” Much of the play happens as Anna
                                                                                               W       ith the notoriety of being on both
                                                                                                       lists of books that should be banned
                                                                                               from high schools and books high school
Ukraine to settle in Northern Ontario.         recites letters she is writing to her sister,   students must read, John Steinbeck’s 1937
While the latitude was similar to that of      who has not accompanied them to Canada          novella, Of Mice and Men, still raises inter-
Winnipeg and Regina, grain-producing           from Ukraine, but who, according to her         est whenever it is studied.
areas to the west, the muskeg soil of the      father, will soon follow with their mother.       Melanie Cameron of Rockway
Canadian Shield was too acidic to grow         In the course of the play we find that Anna,    Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener had
crops. After the forest was cleared in prep-   her father and brother had fled Ukraine         her Grade 9 class study the book this year.
aration for farming, there was no income to    after an attack by bandits. Anna managed        She had her students select themes that are
be derived and by 1948 so many of the set-     to hide, but her last sight of her sister was   significant in the novel: unemployment,
tlers had left, many for Harrow, Ont, that     of her standing in the middle of the yard in    poverty, homelessness, mental disability,
the Mennonite congregation dissolved.          her night gown. No one will follow.             physical disability, racial discrimination,
   But Reesor lives on in annual picnics,         This realization dawns on Anna as the        gender discrimination, sexual exploitation,
once held at the site of the settlement, and   family comes to the conclusion that
								
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