Ottawa Event Announcement: The GCTC Presents “The First Stone” Opening April 13th!

Media Release:

To close out its 22-23 Season, Great Canadian Theatre Company is thrilled to co-produce, with New Harlem Productions, The First Stone, an epic new play by three-time Governor General Literary Award-nominated playwright Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. This show features a 14-person ensemble, and is one of the largest productions in GCTC’s 48-year history.

The First Stone marries text, movement, and song to tell a universal story that tackles ideas of generational violence, forgiveness, and what it really means to come home. During the Ugandan Civil War, two children are captured into an army, while their father fights on the other side. Their mother will do anything to get them back. St. Bernard points us towards hope, showing us how a community can repair after being torn apart. “The question of who gets to go home is one that impacts us all,” says playwright Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, “echoing from the ranks of minor combatants to the bunks of residential schools, the broken foster care system and contemporary youth incarceration facilities. This play aims to hear from the children.”

Photo: Curtis Perry

The First Stone was written as part of her 54ology, a series of performance works responding to historical and current contexts of different African countries. The play was supported through the NAC’s National Creation Fund and had its original premiere in October in downtown Toronto at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. The Toronto cast is joined in Ottawa by a chorus of local performers. “Everything that we are doing in this play,” says St. Bernard, “everything that we are doing in this story, has everything to do with where we are now, with how we encounter justice in our lives every day, with what is expected of us. Even if the story we are hearing seems like it is a faraway story, it expects something of us here, now where we are.”
The show will run for two weeks at GCTC’s Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre.

The First Stone
By Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
Directed by Yvette Nolan


Courage Bacchus | Ancestral Echoes (recorded)

Daniel Jelani Ellis | Boy
Dorothy A. Atabong | Mom
Ingrid Gayle | Chorus
Joy Mwandemange | Chorus

Megan Legesse | Chorus | Co-Dance Captain
Micah Jondel DeShazer | Chorus
Michael Lamont Lytle | Grandad
Nawa Nicole Simon | Girl
Oluwakayode Sodunke | Chorus
Paul Smith | Kidogo
Tsholo Khalema | Ancestor
Taija Shoné-Chung | Uma
Tifanni Kenny | Chorus

Uche Ama | Auntie, Teacher | Co-Dance Captain

Creative Team
Cam Davis | Projection Designer
Des’ree Gray | Costume Designer
Jackie Chau | Set Designer

Maddie Bautista | Music Composition & Sound Design
Michelle Ramsay | Original Lighting Designer
Rachel Schaen | Lighting Designer onsite

The Company

Alison Wong | Producer, New Harlem Productions
Charissa Wilcox | Production Manager, New Harlem Productions
Heather Bellingham | Assistant Stage Manager
Indrit Kasapi | Choreographer

Lindsay Anne Black | Nebulous Associate, New Harlem Productions

Sarah O’Brien | Stage Manager
Sarah Waisvisz | Chorus Director
Shannon Litzenberger | Assistant Director


Tickets are available at or at the box office. To provide more financial accessibility, limited Pick-Your-Price tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Please see the website for details, or contact the box office.

Reduced Capacity Performances – April 14 & 18: These shows are sold at 50% capacity, for those who are looking for a bit more space between you and your seat-neighbour. Masking is required at these performances. Pay-What-You-Decide – April 16: The 1st Sunday of each mainstage production is Pay-What-You-Decide (PWYD) Sunday. Any remaining tickets 24 hours before this performance can be purchased for any price you decide, by calling or visiting the box office. (Not currently available online.)

Relaxed Performance – April 18: Tuesday the 18th is also a relaxed performance. During these
performances, you are welcome to get up, move, stretch, leave and re-enter the theatre as your body needs. This show is also a reduced capacity performance with required masking. ASL Performance – April 21: This show features ASL interpretation. For best seats, book with the code “ASL” or call the box office.

GCTC is celebrating its 48th Season in 2022-23. We continue to foster, produce and promote excellent theatre that provokes examination of Canadian life and our place in the world. GCTC aims to increase the diversity on its stages, in its creative teams, make its work inclusive for more audiences and deepen their experience. GCTC also continues to embrace artistic risk and to ensure a wide range of theatrical experiences.

New Harlem Productions is a project-based arts organization that prioritizes marginalized narratives. It is concerned with its impact on people, places and things; projects are undertaken with consideration for sustainability, solidarity, professional development, equitable resource distribution, social implications and front-line experiences.

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