Partnerships: the name of the game

Here’s how we define our Mission at Faith&Arts Ottawa:

“to engage people in deepening their spiritual lives by offering arts-based spiritual growth programs to the Ottawa community, and by creating a faith community of people committed to sharing their lives with one another. “

We have employed many art forms in pursuit of this mission: journaling, poetry, creative writing, music, sculpting, drama and more.  As we have grown our programs we have met a lot of wonderful people who share the vision and have offered their own gifts in partnership.

Like the amazing congregation of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Sandy Hill who have turned their former chapel into a fully equipped art studio and are partnering with Faith&Arts Ottawa to create the SpiritArt studio and SpiritArt program (

Like Eleanor Crowder and Anna Lewis, two of the principals at the Bear & Company Theatre company ( who led our ‘god Monologues’ verbatim theatre project back in the spring of 2013.

And now, like Jonathan Harris and the good folk of the 9th Hour Theatre company ( who are partnering with us to create a remarkable piece of original theatre called “Grain of Salt.”  More about that later, but for now we are delighted to find kindred souls at 9th Hour, who define their mission this way:

“9th Hour Theatre Company exists to creatively engage the art of storytelling in order to explore, examine and express themes and questions of faith and spirituality, including the person and characteristics of God.”

With a Mission so closely aligned with Faith&Arts Ottawa’s, the only surprise is that it took over a year for us to seek one another out and begin collaborating.  Now that we have, and we are, you can look forward to lots of engaging, spiritually challenging theatre in the years to come.

The God Monologues Project

“The unexamined life is not worth living…”

Socrates, quoted in Plato’s Apology.

What is the God Monologues Project?  A 10 week “documentary theatre” project that explores the spirituality of young adults in their own words, culminating in a performance on March 24th. The script will be created by the cast itself.

(In “Documentary theatre” a cast of actors creates an original work of theatrical art by developing a script from the words of real people.   See the Background section below for an explanation of where we will find the words we need to start the creative process.)

Who can participate?  Young adults who are interested in either live theatre or spirituality, or both.  No previous acting experience is necessary, just a willingness to commit to participating each week from early February to late March.  We’re looking for people with a sense of adventure and fun, who are willing to take risks and explore some profound questions.

Where?  At St. Giles Presbyterian Church, corner of Bank Street and First Avenue in the Glebe.

And when?  Wednesday evenings, starting on February 6th.  Rehearsals will start at 6:00 p.m. with a cast dinner (another great reason to sign up!) at 6 p.m. and will finish by 9:00 p.m.   The program will culminate with a performance on Sunday, March 24th.

Why would I want to do this?  This is an unique opportunity to explore some profound life questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I believe?
  3. What are my values?
  4. How do my beliefs and values influence the way I live my life?

And it’s gonna be a lot of fun.  It is called a ‘play’ after all.

Paradoxically, one of the best ways to learn about yourself is to pretend to be someone else; to explore in depth another person’s thoughts, feeling, opinions, and motivations.  And that’s what theatre is.  The essence of acting is to play a ‘character,’ another person who may be very unlike yourself, to explore what they believe and how they behave, what their ‘voice’ sounds like.  In doing so, you will have the opportunity to explore what you think, what you believe, and how you want to live your life.

How much?  Free. Your only cost is the time you commit to it.  Which will be a significant investment.  If you join, you will be expected to attend all the rehearsals and the performance.  Live theatre is a team sport.

OK, I’m interested, how do I get more information?   Leave a comment on this post, or drop me a line at

Background: The Rev. Dr. Tom Sherwood, formerly the Ecumenical Chaplain at Carleton University and still a professor there, has spent the past three years investigating the spiritual lives of young adults who have rejected the religious institutions of their parents and grandparents.  He has gathered about 400 first person statements from young men and women of differing religious, ethnic, economic and geographical backgrounds.  Taken together they paint a fascinating picture of the diverse and creative spiritual lives of young adult Canadians today.

Part of the mandate of Dr. Sherwood’s research is to share his findings as widely as possible, to give a ‘voice’ to his subjects.  As part of that mandate he has partnered with Faith and Arts Ottawa to create a live theatre production based on the words of some of his study participants.