Inspired by a true story, playwright Marie Beath Badian’s The Making of St. Jerome (Playwrights Canada Press) goes deep into the aftermath of a teenager’s untimely death and the media’s role on such tragedies. This is a story of injustice, survivor’s guilt, and a brotherly relationship that asks tough, but poignant questions.
What:The Making of St. Jerome (Playwrights Canada Press, Feb 2017)Who:Marie Beath Badian is a Toronto-based playwright, performer, director, and arts educator. Her other plays include Prarie Nurse, Mind Over Matter, and Novena. She has been playwright-in-residence at fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company and Project: Humanity. She was a member of the 2015 Soulpepper Playwrights Circle and the 2015-16 Natural Resources creation group at Factory Theatre.Why you need to read this now:In 2004, a Filipino Canadian seventeen-year-old named Jeffrey Reodica was fatally shot by a plainclothes police officer in Toronto. It was during a brawl with two groups of teens; while the officer claimed Jeffrey possessed a knife, multiple eyewitness accounts claimed he was unarmed. Later, the SIU cleared the officer of any charges. In 2014, at a vigil marking a decade since the shooting, Jeffrey’s brother Joel told CityNews: “It feels like it’s hopeless… There’s no hope in getting justice for him. There’s pretty much not a day that goes by that you don’t think about Jeffrey and what he could be doing today if he was alive.”In 2017, this story is especially poignant.Jeffrey and Joel’s story inspired playwright Marie Beath Badian to write a performance that would examine the aftermath of a teen’s untimely death, the media’s role in the truth, and the haunting affect this kind of trauma can put on a family. The Making of St. Jerome premiered at the Next Stage Theatre Festival in 2010 at Toronto’s Factory Theatre, and went on to earn multiple Dora Award nominations.The Making of St. Jerome is told from the perspective of the brother—here, he is Jason De Jesus. He rotates between the present with a struggling conscience and the past, where he often has typical brotherly spats with Jerome. He questions everything, internalizes his survivor’s guilt, and has to learn how to grow up while being a strong voice against police brutality.Jason is waiting on the police’s inquest into Jerome’s death, all the while haunted by how their story has been perceived in the media, and how his relationship with his brother had weakened as they grew up.Here’s an excerpt from the play: CHORUS: Tell us about your brotherJASON: [sighs]He played the saxWorked at Tim HortonsHe was a jokerA pretty good ball playerFor 5’4”An altar boyMom’s pride and joyCHORUS: Tell us the truthJASON: As if they really care.They don’t give two shits about a real story.All they want is a sound bite to butcher into a juicy headline…The play is powerful, disturbing, and honest in all the right places. It’s an important read for both young and adult audiences. As Justin Haigh wrote in Plank Magazine, “[The Making of St. Jerome] offers a nuanced and contemplative study of an all too common and culturally divisive occurrence.”X plus Y:The time-travelling nature of storytelling in The Making of St. Jerome is a lot like how the film Fruitvale Station was told, in which it starts with the main character’s death by police officers and works backward of the days leading up to the shooting. The play is obviously set in Toronto and deals with specific city cultures, a lot like Andrew Moodie’s play Toronto the Good, in which attorneys have to come to terms with racial issues in the city and the rise of gun crime.
***Thanks so much to Jessica at Playwrights Canada Press for sharing The Making of St. Jerome with us. For more debut fiction, click here.