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Play about Danny has powerful message

BY FAYE MOFFATT, IAN SLOAN and GILLIAN SCHELL When churches become civic minded, communities are transformed for the better. Churches exist to be in solidarity with the poor: those in poverty, and people without homes.

BY FAYE MOFFATT,
IAN SLOAN and
GILLIAN SCHELL

When churches become civic minded, communities are transformed for the better. Churches exist to be in solidarity with the poor: those in poverty, and people without homes.

While it's appropriate that church folk and others support food banks and serve Out of the Cold dinners as a way of responding to the immediate needs of those facing poverty and hardship, it is appalling the number of people requiring these services in Sudbury and throughout the country continues to grow. 

Churches do more than serve their communities: they act as agents of transformation within them. They work with others to find lasting solutions. When they do this,the impact on the well-being of the community is significant.

Churches are not the most rapid deployment organizations found in communities. But when churches begin to move, the movement is authentic, and the reverberations across the citizenry and in the well-being of the community are not only seen, but felt.

Such movement may be noticed to have begun in the recent events that took place when the United Church of Canada brought an award-winning play about child poverty and homelessness, Danny: King of the Basement, to Sudbury March 23.

Danny, King of the Basement, a winsome, entertaining play by David S. Craig and produced by Toronto's Roseneath Theatre, invites us to confront the challenges of homelessness and poverty. Ten-year-old Danny "Delco" Carter has moved eight times in two years.  He has become so resilient he can make a friend in a morning and a best friend in a day, and so imaginative that every life event becomes part of a game.

One performance of Danny was given to 500 students from four elementary schools in the school district in the afternoon of March 23 at Lockerby Composite School, and a community performance was given in the evening to 250 people of all ages at St. Andrew's Place that same day.

After the evening performance, about 100 people participated in a post-show discussion organized by a newly formed organization, the Manitou Intentional Learning Community.

Twenty-one local sponsors, including businesses, unions, and churches, were identified on the evening performance playbill.  The Sudbury Social Planning Council prepared an insert on hunger and homelessness in Greater Sudbury.


Fourteen organizations that work with, and for the poor, were asked to give out tickets to clients, volunteers and staff.  It is estimated that 25 percent of the evening audience would have been people who live in poverty.

It was a good thing that Danny has a sense of humour and an imagination, but an imagination cannot keep him warm on a - 30 C night on the street, even if he imagines his "supercoat" blows out hot air to warm his hands and melt the snow above and the ice below. And an imagination that tells wonderful stories is great, but when it makes Danny act out in school to cover up his inability to read, that imagination just gets him sent to the office.  Perhaps it is the audience that needs the imagination.  This play calls us to have some vision, compassion, and imagination in trying to alleviate the poverty and homelessness in our midst.

The actors fielded questions following both performances of the play.  Perhaps the most striking comment they hear from school children is, "I'm Danny."  When the play is presented to the broader community, people say, "I'm one or two people away from Danny," or "one or two pay cheques away from Danny."

Faye Moffatt is a member of Trinity United Church, Capreol; Ian Sloan is minister of St. Luke's United Church, Minnow Lake and Trinity United Church in Garson; and Gillian Schell is a member of St. Peter's United Church, Sudbury.