Montreal

Where we call home: Homegrown play takes on 100 years of history in Eaton Corner, Que.

After months of writing and rehearsals, a play that captures a bygone era in the small Eastern Townships' agricultural community of Eaton Corner premieres this weekend.

Grandmother, granddaughter capture bygone era in play about Eastern Townships that premieres this weekend

'I’m a fourth generation Eaton Corner girl,' says half of the writing team, Bethany Rothney's grandmother, Sharon Rothney. (Kate McGillivray/CBC)

Tiny Eaton Corner, Que., is home to about 100 people. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in stories.

A homegrown play that takes 100 years of those stories to the stage premieres this weekend.

Where we call home was written by a grandmother-and-granddaughter writing team, Sharon and Bethany Rothney.

Exhaustively researched, the play spans an eventful century of life in the small agricultural community in the Eastern Townships.  

"Our play begins in 1847, and it goes until the end of the Second World War when our vets come home in 1946," said Sharon.

Bethany said the play stops to dwell on the most important moments in the town's history, starting with a major Eaton Corner milestone: The first surgical procedure under anesthesia in Canada was performed in the town in 1847.

Other important moments include Confederation and the two World Wars.

"We sent quite a few men and a woman to fight in the First World War," said Bethany. "That was pretty big for a small town."

Diving into the past

21-year-old Bethany says she enjoyed learning more about the town where so many of her ancestors lived.

"After doing this play, all the research that went into it, it's like, 'Oh, I know what happened there!' You realize how old everything is."

For Sharon, a love of history and stories came early.

"My ancestors came from here, and I heard my father and grandfather tell many stories, and I had written a lot of these down," she said.

"I was thinking about writing a short book for my grandchildren, because I didn't want our history to be lost."

Changing culture  

Sharon says she's seen big changes in her small town over the course of her lifetime.

She hopes people walk out of the play with a better understanding of how interconnected the people of Eaton Corner used to be.

"I want them to know we had a close-knit community, and we aren't anymore, and everybody is willing to help their neighbour, but it used to be that you visited your neighbours."

Director Bob Halsall poses with the writing duo on the set of the play, Where we call home. (Jackie Hyman)

Bethany explains that's part of the play: People and their descendants just keep popping up as time goes on.

"We follow three different couples throughout the hundred years. And we just search to see how, in such a small town, a love story can happen."

The play is being brought to life by local actors, including Bethany Rothney herself.

It will be staged in the nearby Sawyerville Community Centre.

After selling out two Saturday shows, a third show has been added on Sunday.

For tickets, call  819-875-3182.

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