Borderline: a play about genocide in Rwanda

It was July 1994 and the world was still reeling from the news of the genocide in Rwanda. Tutsi forces were taking control of the troubled African nation and panicked Hutus are fleeing across the country’s borders to safety. Set in the midst of this drama, a Canadian relief worker encounters her former lover, now a refugee from the pursuing Tutsi. She must confront the possibility that he participated in the genocide and her struggle is played out in Borderline, a thought-provoking play by Robert Fothergill.

Right: Rob Fothergill
(photograph by Patrick Fothergill)

Set in Rwanda, Borderline, is about the justice and atonement in this central African country. Fothergill’s play is bound to spark discussion as it tackles this difficult and gritty subject head on. Borderline will be featured in the SummerWorks Theatre Festival in downtown Toronto next month. Fothergill, professor of theatre history at York University, garnered second place in the 1999 Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition from the Department of Drama, Queen’s University, for Borderline.

This year’s production of Borderline is directed by York theatre alumnus Mark Cassidy (MFA 1999). The production stars York theatre grads Marvin Hinz (MFA 1996) and Niki Landau (MFA 2003), and Nigerian actors Ayodele Adewumi and Lucky Ejim. Stage manager is York student Jessie Shearer, who will be entering her third year of studies in the undergraduate theatre program this fall.

Borderline will play at the Factory Studio Theatre, located at 125 Bathurst St. at Adelaide in Toronto. There will be six performances:

  • Friday, Aug. 6, 5pm
  • Saturday, Aug. 7, 9:30pm
  • Sunday, Aug. 8, 5pm
  • Thursday, Aug. 12, 8pm
  • Saturday, Aug. 14, 11pm
  • Sunday, Aug. 15, 3:30pm

Admission is $10 at the door. For more information about the play and festival, call 416-410-1048 or visit the SummerWorks Theatre Festival Web site. SummerWorks is an annual, juried festival. Now in its 14th year, it will present some four dozen productions over 10 days, Aug. 5 to 15, 2004.

About the playwright

Robert Fothergill is a playwright, critic and theatre historian. His drama, Detaining Mr. Trotsky, about the internment of Leon Trotsky in a prison camp in Nova Scotia in April, 1917 (CanStage, Toronto, 1987), won a Chalmers Award and several Dora nominations. Public Lies (Tarragon Theatre, Toronto, 1993), nominated for a Chalmers Award, addresses issues of truth, propaganda and media manipulation by dramatizing episodes in the Canadian career of John Grierson, the documentary film pioneer and founder of the National Film Board. Borderline, written in the late 1990s, was followed by The Dershowitz Protocol (SummerWorks 2003), which addresses a provocative question raised by Harvard University law Professor Alan Dershowitz: “If the judicially sanctioned torture of suspected terrorists might actually forestall a repeat of the 9/11 bombings, why not use it?”

Fothergill’s other writings include Private Chronicles (Oxford Univesity Press 1974), a critical study of English diaries; and a chapter on “Radio and TV Drama” in Volume 4 of the Literary History of Canada (University of Toronto Press, 1990).

Before joining York’s Theatre Department in 1994, Fothergill was a long-time member of the English Department at Atkinson, where he taught dramatic literature and criticism.

More about members of the cast

Mark Cassidy, as co-artistic director of Threshold Theater, has devised and directed numerous productions including As I Lay Dying, In The Language of Love, White Buildings, Beautiful Losers, That Time, Howl, The Hairy Ape, Kafka and Son, and Forms of Devotion. Recent freelance projects include Five Fingers by Robin Fulford, The Pirate Widow Cheng for Puppetmongers, The Dershowitz Protocol by Robert Fothergill and The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser by Kathy Kacer. 

Marvin Hinz holds an MFA in Theatre from York University, and has worked in theatre and television over the past fourteen years. Recent credits: The Dershowitz Protocol (SummerWorks 2003); The Laramie Project (Studio 180), which will be remounted in February 2004 at Buddies in Bad Times; DWARF (Equity Showcase); The Old Neighborhood (East-West Theatre); and The Foursome (Upper Canada Playhouse). Marvin adapted and performed the Toronto Fringe success Game, short-listed for the 1999 US Comedy Arts Festival. Recent film and TV credits include: “Street Time”, “Nero Wolfe”, “Witchblade”, and “Brian’s Song”.

Niki Landau is a member of the Toronto-based Actors Repertory Company. She has worked in theatres across Canada. Her stage credits include the Canadian premiere of George F. Walker’s Criminal Genius (Factory Theatre), directed by Walker, and the world premiere of Jason Sherman’s Reading Hebron (Factory Theatre). Other credits include The Dershowitz Protocol (SummerWorks 2003), Mating Dance of the Werewolf and The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Manitoba Theatre Centre), If We Are Women (Persephone Theatre), Kindertransport (Praire Theatre Exchange/Persephone), and The System (Centaur Theatre). Television credits include The “Newsroom”, “Cycle II”, “Traders”, and “All-American Girl”.