New playwright to have work — inspired by LGBT tragedy — featured at Sudbury's PlaySmelter festival

Garrett Carr says after hearing about the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Florida, he was inspired to write his first script for a play, which will make its debut at the upcoming PlaySmelter Festival in Sudbury.

Garrett Carr's play 'Shots' to be one of six featured at 2019 PlaySmelter Festival in Sudbury

Garrett Carr is one of six playwrights who will have their plays featured at the 2019 PlaySmelter Festival in Sudbury Apr 30-May 4 at the Sudbury Theatre Centre. This is Carr's first script. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Garrett Carr says he thinks about the 2016 shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida almost everyday.

He wasn't there, but the tragedy became his inspiration for the script for his first play, which will make its debut at the 2019 PlaySmelter Festival next month in Sudbury.

The tragedy killed 49 people and injured 53, is the deadliest hate-crime against the LGBT community in U.S. history.

Carr says after hearing the news story, it was writing and interviewing people around Sudbury that helped him deal with his own emotions.

"It is such a huge, important moment in queer history now, and I don't think that it's time for people to forget about it," he said.

"I think it's a bit of a dishonour to the victims and the survivors [of the nightclub shooting] for people to forget that it happened, so I think about it a lot."

Carr, a recent graduate of Thorneloe University's theatre program, used his passion for theatre and his passion for all things queer to craft the script.

He interviewed friends, teachers and others in Sudbury's LGBT community to seek out their thoughts, emotions and feelings after they each heard the news about the mass shooting.

"What stood out the most from all the interviews was just the general feeling of appallment and shock and how disturbed they were."

Carr says after recording the interviews and then transcribing each one, he highlighted various parts that he felt were most important, and then arranged segments based on themes and similar topics. He also included his own personal thoughts in the script.

Carr always knew his project would turn into a play, but says he just didn't know what format it would take.

What audiences will see when Shots is presented during the 2019 PlaySmelter Festival will be five actors reading portions of the real words that came from those Carr interviewed.

They're real words of real people.- Garrett Carr, Sudbury playwright 

"It's kind of a play within a play," he said.

"I wanted it really highlighted that the words that the audience will hear, or even if someone just picks it up and reads it, are words of real people and they're real words of real people, but the people that are presenting it are not those real people."

Carr says it's still hard for him to believe that his very first full script will now soon be presented to a public audience.

"I never expected this to actually happen."

"Not that I'm not confident in my abilities or my work, it's just that not every playwright gets the opportunity to have their work read to the public."

"It's queer rights and queer topics in general that are a huge part of me and my passions- Garrett Carr, playwright

That public reading is scheduled for May 2 at 6 p.m. at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, the third night of the PlaySmelter festival.

Carr says whether the Shots script gets sold or not, it's all about pursuing his passions.

"It's not just the Pulse nightclub shooting itself, it's queer rights and queer topics in general that are a huge part of me and my passions."

Three years ago, Garrett Carr was so affected by a mass shooting in the US that he began writing a play to help himself heal. That work has now been chosen as one of the feature plays at this year's PlaySmelter Festival. The title of the play is Shots. We spoke to Garrett Carr about it. 7:57

With files from Angela Gemmill


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