Proud steps in for Mary Walsh at Toronto theatre

Theatre Passe Muraille has announced a reading of Michael Healey's controversial new work Proud, about an unnamed Canadian prime minister, while it is waiting for Mary Walsh to recover.

Controversial play rejected by Tarragon for satirizing PM

Theatre Passe Muraille has announced a reading of Michael Healey's controversial new work Proud,  about an unnamed Canadian prime minister, while it is waiting for Mary Walsh to recover.

Walsh’s Dancing with Rage was cancelled last week at the Toronto theatre because the Newfoundland-based comedian is in hospital with pneumonia.

Theatre Passe Muraille stands to lose $60,000 from having the theatre go dark while Walsh recovers, TPM artistic director Andy McKim said.

On Monday, the theatre announced that Proud, a work that the Tarragon theatre had rejected for its 2012-13 season because of concerns that it might be subject to a libel suit, would enjoy a fundraiser reading on March 19.

The satire is about an unnamed Prime Minister which Healey admits is based on Stephen Harper. Healey ended his long relationship with Tarragon over its decision not to produce the play and said he believed it was a case of theatre chill.

"Because the character is so nakedly our prime minister and because it's in a fictionalized context — he is surrounded by fictionalized characters and he is saying words that I have dreamt up — there was anxiety among members of the board that there was possibility of libel," Healey told CBC News.

"Proud is in a very early draft stage and Michael is only doing a reading of it now because he is a generous soul, who wants to assist Theatre Passe Muraille, the original home of his hit play The Drawer Boy," Theatre Passe Muraille said in a  statement. 

The theatre also plans to restage another political play, Maggie and Pierre, with Linda Griffiths repeating her iconic performance as Margaret Trudeau, on March 17.

TPM is hoping Walsh can return with her one-woman show starting March 20.