Toronto-born, UK-based playwright Jason Hall watched in awe as the city he once called home became an international punchline following Mayor Rob Ford’s admission last November that he smoked crack in one of his “drunken stupors.”
Ford and Toronto were suddenly searing fodder for comedians and late-night talk show hosts.
But was it really funny?
That’s one of the issues Hall’s new play, 21 Things You Should Know About Toronto’s Crack-Smoking Mayor, hopes to tackle when it debuts at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe festival in August.
“There’s more to this story than the easy cheap jokes about an overweight man,” Hall says in a video he posted to his KickStarter page seeking public funding for the project.
“This is the story about a city divided. It’s a story of a husband, father and civic leader battling with private demons in the private eye…it’s a story of politics, power, and the dark side of Canada’s largest city. It’s a story the world needs to hear.”
Hall borrowed the title for the play from a New York magazine article that offered a disturbingly entertaining chronology of Ford’s antics over the years.
“The idea grew out of my unease with the way the entire Ford story was being played for laughs in the international press,” Hall wrote on KickStarter, adding that there will still be a comedic element to the play.
The play utilizes just one actor, a woman, who plays a Torontonian living abroad who becomes fed up with the headlines about her city.
Hall is an experienced playwright. His first play, Eyes Catch Fire, won Canada’s Herman Voaden National Playwriting competition and his other works have been performed around the world.
He’s trying to raise the equivalent of $4,000 Canadian to aid his expenses. As of 1:30 p.m. he was about halfway there thanks to 40 backers.
Ford’s story could also be hitting TV or movie screens after Blue Ice Pictures acquired the rights to the new book by Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story.