As It Happens

Ontario man writing play about the rise and fall of Target in Canada

Robert Motum is creating a show about the real-life drama of Target in Canada. He's focusing his production on the effect the chain's demise had on the thousands of employees who lost their jobs.
Robert Motum, right, is writing a play about the demise of Target in Canada. Last year, the discount retailer closed all of its stores across the country. (Left: The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese, Right: Robert Motum)

A young playwright is creating theatre out of the rise and fall of Target in Canada. The production, called Community Target, will focus on the effect the discount retailer's demise had on the thousands of employees who lost their jobs. 

An employee hangs sale signs at a Target on the first day of the company's closing liquidation sale in Toronto on Thursday, February 5, 2015. (The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese)

"I was following the news this time last year and there just seemed to be a bit of the story missing," Robert Motum tells As it Happens host Carol Off. "What I wasn't hearing were the voices of the 17,600 employees who were let go from Target. So I just wanted to kind of crack open the human element of this story." 

Last year — just two years after it entered the Canadian market — Target announced that it would be closing all 133 of its stores. 

As research for his play, Motum has met with five former Target employees. For him, one woman's story stands out. 

"One woman who worked at head office . . . she found out about five minutes from the office over the radio that she was losing her job," he says. "At the time, she was three months pregnant and just about to go on maternity leave." 

Motum is hoping to stage his play at an old Target store, although he hasn't been able to secure a location yet. 

"I'm hoping that it would be sort of a tour," explains Motum. "It's called a promenade performance . . . where the audience follows the action through the space."

Motum is currently working with the Toronto theatre company Outside the March to put his play together.  A preview performance is planned for August. He's hoping the full piece will be complete by early 2017. 

A Canadian flag flies on the car of a customer's car parked in front of a Target store in in Guelph, Ont. on March 5, 2013. (The Canadian Press/Dave Chidley)

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