True story re-imagined about an enterprising madame and a town matron. A story passed down in local histories, of a group of townswomen who banded together to defend their families by burning down the brothel.
Time: 60 minutes
Characters: 2 female
Florence Smith: owner of a boarding house that specializes in pregnant single girls
Isobel Hastings: owner and proprietor of the Brothel
Setting: Big Valley, AB.
From the December 29, 1921 Big Valley News
Big Blaze near Big Valley
A house occupied and owned by a woman named Hastings who was living a mile and a half north of town was totally destroyed by fire at 4:30am on Monday morning. The cause of the fire is unknown. The occupants had a very narrow escape, as when they awoke the house was full of smoke and fire. Nothing was saved and the loss is estimated at $4,000. [about $50,000 in contemporary funds]. The Hastings woman and another person who was staying with her had to walk into town clad only in night attire with blankets over them, and had a terrible time from cold and exposure. The police are investigating the affair.
But there was no investigation, no charges laid. Hastings disappears from annals of Big Valley, Alberta. A story passed down in local histories, of a group of townswomen who banded together to defend their families by burning the brothel to the ground. But we found no records linking the action to any specific women. So we made this up.
Productions: This drama with comedic themes (or comedy with dramatic themes) was first produced at the 2018 Edmonton Fringe. Linda Grass starred as Smith, and Sue Huff Starred as Hastings, with David Cheoros directing. The run was produced by Maa & Paa Theatre, which focuses on stories from Alberta’s history. All eight performances were sold out.
The Great Whorehouse Fire of 1921 2018
Linda Wood Edwards
Playwright Bio: Linda has been producing her plays since 2005: The Great Whorehouse Fire of 1921 (co-written w/David Cheoros 2018), Trail and Error (2016), Spring Alibi (Adelaide AU 2015; 2005, 2014; Washington DC 2006; Yukon 2007; Sask. 2012); Never Let the Crew See You Cry (2013+tour), Four in the Crib (2012, 2013, High River 2018), True Grid (2007, 2010), Support Ho’s (2009), Beans & Rice (2006, Sask. 2017), Gibberish v. Genius (Canmore, YEG 2018), and Almost the Pioneer Brewing Company (Canmore, YEG, Fort McMurray 2018). Linda’s plays have garnered sweet accolades including two Sterling nominations. Linda is delighted to again work with David and to be around such a fine, fun troupe of actors.
David Cheorosw co-produces MAA & PAA Theatre with Karen Simonson; bringing hidden gems of Alberta history to the stage. Past MAA & PAA productions include: Letters from Battle River (toured Alberta); Witch Hunt at the Strand (expanded and presented to acclaim by Workshop West Theatre); Bible Bill: A Gospel Musical; Never Let the Crew See You Cry (selected by Theatre Alberta to tour the province); and Invisible Child (Ringwood Award for outstanding new Albertan play).