About the Play

The Resurrectionists came out of necessity.
And so did The Resurrectionists.

Both the play and the criminals came about of a mounting demand. In the case of the Resurrectionists (the criminals typically referred to as such for their grave-robbing vocation) the demand was for fresh cadavers, to be dug up and sold to medical institutions so that eager young students could learn anatomy for the purposes of becoming doctors. In the case of The Resurrectionists (the play) the demand was that my name had been drawn to take place in The 2017 Toronto International Fringe Festival, and I had not written a new play. I had twenty pages of an idea on this silly old crime that plagued the western world, but other than that, I was lost. So in the span of a month I pulled from my brain a bizarre, dark, farcical and fictional take on an evening in the life of two young doctors trying their hands at this whole "life of crime" thing. And by page three, they had finished pulling a fresh body off of a wagon. So life mimics art, in a way. I guess.

To offer something of a history lesson, a task which I am in no way qualified to do, this bizarre and poorly documented crime wave occurred because of the overly-puritanical treatment of human remains. Bodies in the 19th century could only be used for study if the person had died in a prison or lunatic asylum, and their bodies were not claimed by a relative or "bona fide close friend". How they officially certified a friendship is beyond my realm of knowledge. This lead to a shortage in bodies as the study of medicine in schools became more available and more fashionable. This class of criminal was the answer. It wasn't until countries like England, America and Canada adopted a version of a law broadly defined as an "Anatomy Act" that bodies were legally allowed to be donated. It is worth noting that the first record of such an act passing in Ontario where our humble story is set, was not adopted until March 30th, 1885. It was humbly called An Act respecting the Study of Anatomy. Somehow, bodies of law were able to learn from the past. Imagine that.

This play is fictional, and it is a light-hearted look at a dark moment in Canada's history. It is perhaps not the darkest blot in our nation's records, but it is well-hidden. It is time that we refuse to accept our facade of perfection that Canada has worn for generations, and let ourselves acknowledge the crimes of the past. All of them.
In this small way, with this small play, I hope we can find it in ourselves to refuse that we are somehow "perfect". I hope that we can reconcile. 

-Ross Hammond
Co-Founder, House of Rebels Theatre

 
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