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Playwright steps outside comfort zone

   
 


John Wideman performs his one-act play, This Prison or: He Came Through the Floor, at Danforth Mennonite Church in June 2010. Wideman attends Danforth Mennonite Church in Toronto.

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July 15, 2011
-Deborah Froese

Waterloo, ONT. — John Wideman knows how unnerving it can be to step outside of one’s comfort zone – and he drew from that knowledge to write a thought provoking one-act play, This Prison or: He Came Through the Floor.

The play explores “fundamentalism, doubt, and our reluctance to step out of our comfort zone” and it was on stage for Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2011 on Wednesday, July 6 in the Humanities Theatre on the Conrad Grebel University College campus.

After Wideman completed theatre studies at the University of Waterloo, including a term exploring political theatre at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, he hitchhiked to Vancouver. Alone. He took the time to journal about his experiences and the different people he met along the way. The journey drew him into unfamiliar and less-than-comfortable territory.

“It was a spiritual-ish quest for me, examining what I thought and believed. It was a time of being reflective and uncomfortable sleeping by the road and I didn’t know where I would end up.” He says the trip came about because he had graduated, had no real plans for the future and had never seen Canada before.

During that time, Wideman struggled to come to terms with what he believed. The evangelical world that he grew up in and many of the ideas important in that world had lost their importance for him. “I had a fallout with my own beliefs…I had to take the time to really clear my head from what I’d been told.”

Wideman’s struggles gave him the background he needed to shape This Prison. The play deals with getting stuck in a belief rather than questioning it because it is more comfortable [to stay put].”

This Prison previously played to audiences at Danforth Mennonite Church in June 2010 (Toronto, ON) and at Wideman Mennonite Church in Stouffville Ont. In addition to staging This Prison, Wideman is directing five “Revelation Vignettes” for the Youth Assembly, also taking place this week in Waterloo, Ont.

Wideman currently lives in Stouffville and works as the Peace Program Director at Willowgrove Outdoor Education Centre and Primary School, an independent, not-for-profit organization, and he is in the process of launching “theatre of the beat”, a troupe of players focussing on socially conscious and thought provoking theatre.