The making of The Philanthropist: Part 2

Ticket sales are in full swing!


Ticket sales for the multimedia theatre production The Philanthropist are in full swing. In Part 1, readers learned about the origins of this project. The QCT continued its interview with Mike Boden who revealed more about how the production is unfolding.

“This whole process has been a roller coaster of emotion,” Boden affirmed. “The project was written as a multimedia presentation combining live theatre and digital cinematography, complete with visual and sound effects as well as original music.”

Since the story covers over 150 years of Jeffery Hale’s history, it was impossible to write the story using only the medium of a traditional play. The goal was to stay true to the facts, while adding a theatrical aspect to be enjoyed at the new Student Centre at CEGEP Champlain–St. Lawrence.

The project almost stopped in its tracks at the outset due to Boden’s uncertainty as to how it could actually materialize, but a close friend encouraged him to continue. Completing the original script was the first step. Boden then reached out to members of the Quebec Art Company to see if it could be of interest to them.

Former QAC president Cheryl Rimmer was immediately enthusiastic and shared Boden’s original vision. Boden then had to find a way to fund the project. He reached out to the federal government for funding. Despite letters of support from several community organizations, the answer was negative.

Meanwhile, community interest in the project was building and local foundations stepped up to the plate. The next step was to create a team to rework and strengthen the script. Boden worked alongside Mark Lepitre, Nathalie Perron, Diane Kameen and Cheryl Rimmer on the meticulous line-by-line review.

“At the same time, our production crew began filming two scenes, one of which took place at the Jeffery Hale Hospital. That really injected a boost of adrenaline because the project was truly starting to come alive,” Boden exclaimed.

Original music was also part of the equation. According to Boden, “Something special was transpiring with The Philanthropist. One day, a colleague discreetly placed a poem on my desk about Jeffery Hale. It had been written a few years earlier by Lynn Vallières, a former employee of Jeffery Hale – Saint Brigid’s, on the occasion of the opening of a new room at the hospital.”

Boden met with Vallières and discovered that she is the lead singer of a local Celtic group called Rosheen. A month later, Vallières and her group had crafted her poem into a beautiful song, “The Ballad of Jeffery Hale” which Rosheen performed for the first time at the 150th commemorative ceremony held at Mount Hermon Cemetery in September, 2016. You can hear it at the end of the Jeffery Hale 150th video on YouTube.

Other original music was soon added to The Philanthropist, including a theme song composed and performed on piano by Gordon Brown, a former dean at St. Lawrence. “The theme song really captures the mood of this venture,” recounts Boden. “The recording of this piece, along with other music, took place at Quebec High School.”

After the recording session, Boden was handed a CD of songs written and recorded by QHS students. “I couldn’t believe it,” he marveled. “The first song I listened to was an original song by Naomi Wiesner. Her voice and lyrics were a perfect fit for the project.”

After a call from Boden, two days later, not only had Wiesner donated her song to the project but she was acting alongside Alexander Huard in the scenes filmed at the hospital. “It’s hard to describe what has been going on,” Boden continued, “But it’s like the stars were aligning and this project was somehow just meant to be.”

Boden concludes, “I have never been involved in Quebec City’s artistic community or in a project of a theatrical nature before. What impresses me is the passion, devotion and professionalism that everyone involved is contributing to this production. Their positive energy is very inspiring, and it is the driving force in bringing this project to fruition.”

You too can join the philanthropic movement. Be part of The Philanthropist happening from August 24 to 27 at Champlain-St. Lawrence.

Visit the Web page to learn more, including how to order tickets, and “like” the event’s Facebook page. You can also call 418 684-5333, ext. 1384.