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Wrongful conviction focus of play being workshopped at STC tonight

Emil Sher looks into the lives ruined by disgraced former pathologist Dr. Charles Smith
Sudbury Theatre Centre presents a special verbatim workshop reading of Emil Sher’s Conviction this Friday evening. Supplied photo.

Sudbury Theatre Centre presents a special verbatim workshop reading of Emil Sher’s "Conviction" this Friday evening.

It'll be presented starting at 7:30 p.m. in the theatre centre's cabaret space. 

In this intimate performance space, you will witness the reverberations of a story stretching from Toronto across northern Ontario, unravelling the lives of two families in the process.

Bill Mullins-Johnson of Sault Ste. Marie spends 12 years in prison for murdering his four-year-old niece. Lianne Thibeault of Sudbury is charged with killing her 11-month-old son. 

Their worlds are shattered by the unwavering testimony of Dr. Charles Smith, who eventually admitted his training in forensic pathology was “self-taught.”

This new work explores the world of the wrongfully convicted, weaving verbatim text — interviews, articles, court transcripts — into a theatrical whole delivered by local actors.

"Conviction" raises the questions: Whose testimony counts, whose voices do we listen to, and what are the consequences when we do not?

Testimony from audience members also matters a great deal in this event. After the workshop, there will be a discussion period during which we encourage questions and comments.

“Sudbury actors and audiences have fundamentally shaped Conviction,” said Sher. “A play remains little more than words on a page until those words are lifted off the page by actors and further refined thanks to feedback from audiences.”

Rounding out the local talent as director of the workshop is Matthew Heiti, STC playwright-in-residence and artistic associate at Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, which presented an early version of Conviction at the 2013 PlaySmelter Festival for New Works.

Conviction also received support last season through STC’s Theatre Creators’ Reserve Program. 

The program issues grants to projects inspired by local lore, mythology, and history or which tackle social and cultural issues in the region. STC is accepting applications to this season’s Theatre Creators’ Reserve until January 13, 2017. 

Seating in the STC Cabaret is limited to 50 seats with additional standing room. Advance ticket purchases are strongly encouraged. 

All tickets are $12, available in person at the DiBrina Box Office at 170 Shaughnessy St., by calling 705-674-8381, or online at


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