Following their success presenting Peggy Baker’s Who We Are in the Dark, and the Art of Time Ensemble’s I Send You This Cadmium Red earlier this year, The Socrates Project is continuing its quickly established role of programming heavy hitters with a presentation of Human Cargo’s acclaimed production of The Runner later this month.

At the centre of this show is Jacob, an Orthodox-Jewish man who works with a volunteer emergency response group in Israel known as Z.A.K.A. This group is often the first on the scene after a terrorist attack, and part of Z.A.K.A’s role is to collect the blood and body parts of victims and perpetrators of these violent acts to ensure they can be buried in accordance with Jewish customs.

Jacob is confronted with a moral and psychological dilemma as he grapples with his decision to treat a young woman instead of an Israeli soldier she may have killed. In addition to his own mental struggle with this decision, Jacob must also face the repercussion of this decision with those around him. A custom-built, black twenty-four foot continuously moving treadmill will keep the production moving forward, both metaphorically and physically.

The play has been a work-in-progress for twenty years for Human Cargo’s Artistic Director and playwright Christopher Morris. In his research for The Runner, Morris travelled to Israel to spend time with Z.A.K.A. members and parents of 18-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber Ayat Al-Akhras. The wait was well worth it, as The Runner, which premiered at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille in their 2018-2019 season won a number of 2019 Dora Awards, including Outstanding Production, Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Direction.

“As we slide further down the path of political and social division, now more than ever, we need plays like The Runner that champion individuals who put human decency above tribalism, while knowing full well the consequences they’ll face by doing so,” says Morris.

In addition to Morris’ writing, The Runner is brought to life by Shaw and Stratford alumnus Gord Rand. The production has been directed by Canadian theatrical legend Daniel Brooks, who is a master of one-man shows.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring this powerful and thought-provoking production to Hamilton,” says Socrates Project director Rina Fraticelli. “The Runner pulls us into the heart of Jacob’s story. His dilemma reminds us that the question of what is right or wrong is complicated; there are many sides to a story.”

Who: Human Cargo, Presented by The Socrates Project
What: The Runner
Where: Black Box Theatre, McMaster University (Main Floor, L.R. Wilson Hall, 1280 Main Street West)
When: September 19-21 and September 26-28 at 7:30pm, September 22 at 1:30pm
Tickets: $15 General Admission; $5 Students
More Information or To Buy Tickets: https://socrates.mcmaster.ca/events/the-runner/

Feature photo credit Graham Isador.

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