In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ned reached out to the Katarokwi/Kingston theatre community with an idea for getting and staying connected: a series of Zoom readings of the CoW plays. The Facebook group City of Wine: Kingston was launched early in 2021 and before long had more than 250 members. The readings were deliberately informal and inclusive: neither performance nor audition, just a chance to share the stories.
By last April, all seven of the extant plays had been read by more than 60 participants, and the group was eager to dive deeper into the stories and their world. Ned had also been inspired by what he discovered in the readings to refine and expand the overall design of the work into nine plays: a trilogy of trilogies.
What has emerged is a five-year plan to produce all nine City of Wine plays and then to continue staging three of them each year in ongoing rotation, engaging and employing an open and inclusive network of Katarokwi/Kingston theatre artists – professional, community, and student/youth – in a sustained and sustainable Katarokwi/Kingston event and attraction.
But this is more than just a theatre project. It is a machine for community building: nurturing and growing cultural capacity in Katarokwi/Kingston through training and mentoring, but also through the sheer inclusive scale of it.