Alex Pritchard is a new playwright to Gaslight Tours. Photo by John Knox
Alex Pritchard, a debut playwright for this year’s Gaslight Tour, has written a play about three women who graduated from the General and Marine Nursing program during the 1940s, when the Second World War was just beginning.
Pritchard said her play is about “the bond between three friends,” and, since it’s based on real people, ideas and events of the time, it’s also about the history of Collingwood.
All Gaslight Tour plays must be about Collingwood’s true history, and they must also follow the theme for the year. This year’s theme is Herstory.
Pritchard began her stage-writing career in the Gaslight Page-to-Stage program, where she had two scenes make it to performance.
“Page-to-Stage is a good stepping stone for anyone who wants to write for Gaslight,” said Pritchard.
Though she doesn’t have an extensive background in writing outside of some poetry and a novel idea she’s working on, Pritchard said both the Page-to-Stage program and the Gaslight Tour playwright workshops have helped her tell stories from a stage.
She’s also a fan of humour, and is hoping others will find her Gaslight Tour play funny.
“It’s these girls talking about what their next step will be, and they’re really different girls,” said Pritchard. “I think it’s funny.”
To find the idea, Pritchard visited the Collingwood Public Library where Carole Stuart, the coordinator for the local history and genealogy department, helped her find an idea.
“Carole is really helpful, she knows everything,” said Pritchard.
With Stuart as a guide, she found newspaper clippings detailing a G&M Hospital graduation ceremony, and learned about Mrs. Donald McKay, who became the first woman on the hospital board of directors.
“Those women were incredibly tough,” said Pritchard. “Collingwood had some really amazing people, especially women.”
This year, all the playwrights for the Gaslight Tour are women, and Pritchard’s play will be directed by her mom, Janice Schennach.
Pritchard has lived in Collingwood for eight years and attended Gaslight Tours for five.
“I learn something every time I go,” she said.
The Gaslight Tour features four 20-minute plays performed at four undisclosed locations around town. The audience walks from play to play. Each play matches the theme of the year and tells the true history of Collingwood’s people.