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Consecrated Ground

Consecrated Ground
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: George Boyd
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 96
Pub. Date: 2011
Edition: 2nd revised
ISBN-10: 889226660
ISBN-13: 9780889226661
Cast Size: 3 female, 4 male

About the Play:

Finalist for the 2000 Governor General's Award for Drama (Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize).

Consecrated Ground is a full-length drama by George Boyd. The play depicts the struggle between the advocates of Black heritage and history and the advocates of white liberal socio-economics. In 1965, Africville, built over generations, was bulldozed into memory in one day. What was lost to the politicians of Halifax was an inconvenience, an eyesore. What was lost to the people of the largest and oldest Black community in Canada, whose roots ran deep through the once-vibrant community, was an entire way of life.

Consecrated Ground depicts the consequences to a Black family of the razing of Africville on the outskirts of Halifax in the 1960s and the relocation of its 400 residents to more "progressive" public housing. Africville's roots went back to the 1830s, when it began to be settled by descendants of the Black Loyalists, the Black Pioneers and others who fled the horrors of slavery in America for the relative freedom of Canada. Africville flourished for generations as a tight-knit agricultural settlement, and its people had every right to expect the public services available to all other citizens of the Halifax peninsula. Homeowners in Africville paid city taxes, but after years of being unfairly and ruthlessly denied even the most basic of modern conveniences, including electricity, running water, and a proper sewage system, which were readily available to all of the rest of the citizens of Halifax, the decision by city officials to locate the municipal dump a stone's throw from Africville created a rat-infested, slum-like environment for the already beleaguered neighbourhood. Condemned as unsanitary, its residents were told to sell their homes if they could, before finally being evicted without compensation as the bulldozers moved in. The final injustice was that part of Africville was demolished to make way for an off-leash dog park; the rest of the land was used to build the approaches to the A. Murray MacKay Bridge. In Consecrated Ground, award-winning playwright George Boyd retells the struggle of Africville's residents to save their homes and their dignity. With tremendous wit and gravity, George Boyd resurrects Africville on the verge of extinction, making us a gift of people believable in their vulnerabilities, their courage, and their outrage.

Consecrated Ground premiered in 1998 by the Eastern Front Theatre Company at the Sir James Dunn Theatre in Halifax, Novia Scotia.

Cast: 3 female, 4 male

What people say:

"… raw theatrical force … Sharply drawn, warmly human, and ultimately very moving." — Halifax Daily News

"The only good produced by the disappearance of Africville was the appearance of a conscious black nationalism … In this regard, Consecrated Ground is the heir of fierce, vengeful, and epic activism." — George Elliott Clarke

"Consecrated Ground establishes the historical, spiritual, and spatial connection that [Africville] has with and to the more conventionally defined Canadian landscape." — Theatre Research in Canada

"Boyd combines the larger social issues with a concise view of a domestic relationship that suffers severely from the circumstances. Consecrated Ground provides an excellent case study for the impact of environmental racism. The Africville that Boyd represents embodies the world-wide pattern in which particular communities, often communities inhabited by people of colour, are at a high risk of living and working in environmentally hazardous conditions." — Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

"Most contemporary black theatre deals with themes of ancestors, family, home and our place in the world. As a piece of writing, Consecrated Ground ranks with Greek and Shakespearean tragedy with its epic, heroic struggle against impossible odds." — NOW Magazine

About the Playwright:

George Elroy Boyd (1952-2020) was a pioneering Black playwright and journalist. Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after working as a journalist and radio broadcaster, he became Canada's first Black national television news anchor in 1992 as a co-host of the CBC Morning News. The founder of the Canadian Black Theatre Society, he was nominated for a Governor General's Award for his play Consecrated Ground.

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