Letter from the Playwright

Aaron Jan

What am I afraid of?
I’ve been doing some activist work in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. And for (sadly) expected reasons, we’ve been facing resistance from folks who think we’re dividing the city into factions. These people call us racists and bigots for prioritizing BIPOC individuals in our fundraising, hiding behind anonymous profiles and taunting us. In some cases, they throw racial epithets and slurs at us.
I fear these people becoming violent.
I fear these people releasing my contact information.
I fear these people coming to my house and hurting me and my loved ones.
In my deepest, darkest, radical, left-wing fantasies, I imagine myself doing the same thing.
I imagine myself revealing their faces and home addresses online.
I imagine making them feel afraid by sending armies of people to their homes.
I imagine hurting cutting off their lines of income, destroying their livelihoods, driving them out of
town, so that they may face justice for opposing me and my activism.
So what if I had that power?
And what if the same thing were flipped on me?
I am so incredibly grateful to Marlis, David (x2), Paula, Din, Jasnoor, Joshua, Frank, Jacob, Megi, Sam, Celeste, Sara and the whole Theatre @ York team for helping to bring this play to life. Writing and developing HAGS for an incredible group of collaborators was a rejuvenating experience that
helped make this terrible year a positive one.
Stay spooky, HAGS.

“Theatre @ York welcomes you to the world premiere of Aaron Jan’s HAGS and Tabia Lau’s The Antigone Play!
When it became apparent this past spring that our fall Theatre @ York season would not
proceed as “normal,” I wanted to find a way to continue engaging students in the development
and production of exciting new theatre – to explore the possibilities (and challenges) of creating new performance work online. I was delighted when Aaron Jan and Tabia Lau accepted commissions to write two new plays for Theatre @ York with this explicit goal in mind. And I was equally delighted when Professor David Jansen agreed to guide the project as a director-dramaturg. He has assembled an incredible group of York students and alumni to stage HAGS and The Antigone Play, two powerful plays that speak directly to the moment we find ourselves in today.
Although it remains unclear when we will all have a chance to gather again in-person, I am
confident that theatre will remain – whether online or in some exciting new hybrid form not yet imagined. And I trust that audiences will continue to find hope and community through a
shared evening of theatre.”

Department of Theatre Professor and Chair, Marlis Schweitzer
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