Stouffville couple go out on a limb to produce a play about Canada
‘Stronger, Freer’, Patrick and Marianne Lannigan’s play commemorating Canada’s sesquicentennial, is to play June 15,17 and 18 at Nineteen on the Park
Stouffville Free Press
Patrick and Marianne Lannigan are following their hearts.
The Stouffville couple recently left their positions at SIT, a 150-person banking software company in Stouffville, to write a play about Canada’s journey from its humble beginnings as a colony to its present-day status as a global leader celebrated for its values.
How did this happen?
“The idea to write the play began to take a hold of us in February and we couldn’t let it go”, said Marianne, the primary playwright in the family. “We sit on the board of the Stouffville Theatre Company and were looking for a play to produce that would tie into Canada Day. We started toying with the idea of a play, to be called ‘Stronger, Freer’, that would follow a single family from the time of confederation to the present.”
“We had so much to work with”, added Patrick. “If you check those years – 1867, 1917, 1967, and 2017 – they are so colourful. We have two Trudeaus; the Leafs win the Stanley Cup; the engineering and victory at Vimy Ridge; the Halifax explosion; Gord Downie’s challenge to Justin Trudeau to fix the aboriginal issues; and so much more. The pieces of the puzzle just kept falling into place.”
The couple thought about writing the play as a part time venture, but that meant it couldn’t be produced until after Canada Day. So they presented the idea to the Stouffville Theatre Company, who were incredibly supportive. They checked their financial position and then handed in their resignations.
The decision to leave SIT was a difficult one. “SIT was a great company to work for,” said Patrick. “With me as VP of Marketing and Marianne as Marketing Operations Manager, SIT gave us the opportunity to work together and the freedom to grow and learn and be creative. When we were there, we created some amazing events, brought in thousands of leads, and really felt like we were an integral part of the SIT family.”
As a graduate of Sheridan College’s Music Theatre program, Marianne’s theatre experience spans the 1970s through directing Stouffville Theatre Company’s latest production, Dial M For Murder. Patrick has been on the board of the Stouffville Theatre Company since its inception and has entered the theatre community with an energy his friends and family know as characteristic. He brings seasoned marketing skills and a strong business sense to the project. The couple hopes to market the play to high schools as a teaching aid. “We’ve seen how theatre brings history alive in shows like Hamilton and Come From Away,” said Patrick. “It’s a brilliant way to deliver history to students.”
The Lannigans are thrilled with the support they’ve received from the Stouffville community. As an example, the logo was created by Sching Ng, from Muun Design here in Stouffville. Asked to try to capture the spirit of Canada including first nations, inclusivity, and overall natural landscape, Ms. Ng’s original design has been the source of many great compliments.
The premise of Stronger, Freer is the dramatization of a single family’s journey through the years. “The Robertsons come to PEI just before Confederation, from Scotland, and we take a journey with that family through time, in fifty year increments,” said Patrick. “We experience their hardships, victories, and conflicts as time moves forward to present day.”
Stronger, Freer is playing at Nineteen on the Park on June 15, 17, and 18. Tickets are available at Star Ticketing, Barthau Jewellers, and Card’s TV and Appliances..