The following excerpt is from Rick Duthie‘s interview with Mia Jensen from the Sudbury Star. The full article, “New Play Explorers Sudbury’s Labour Strife” can be viewed online. He was also recently interviewed by Heidi Ulrichsen of Sudbury.com for the article “This PhD Student is Using the Stage to Explore City’s Tumultuous Labour History“.
Conversations around a kitchen table are a common experience, but playwright Rick Duthie believes that in Sudbury, something has been missing from the discussion.
Duthie’s new play, One Day Stronger, explores Sudbury’s labour history from the perspective of Laurie, anchored to her kitchen table, who relives her childhood memories from the 1958 Inco strike to her present, at the end of the 1978 Inco strike.
With more than 20,000 people on strike in a city of just 75,000, the post-war Inco strikes were a time of tension, disunity, and emotional exhaustion. Duthie’s play explores these events from the intimate perspective of a family, and a girl at two different points in her life.
A fifth-year PhD candidate in public history at Carleton University, Duthie first learned about the strikes during his undergrad studies in Calgary.
“I was in a history class and they started talking about Sudbury,” he said, “Then I started hearing all these stories about this really rich, contentious past that happened right where I grew up.”
Theatre, according to Duthie, is an underrepresented means of historical analysis in public history. Duthie’s years of experience as an actor, and his love for theatre, drove him to marry his two favourite interests, and use the stage as the platform for his dissertation research.
Over two years, Duthie interviewed Sudbury residents about their experiences of “living, working, and striking in Sudbury.” He uses the stories and anecdotes from these interviews to craft a script that explores this past.