Wednesday 20 May 2015


Planning the launch of Running: The Alex Decoteau Story

Fictive Press Publisher Morri Mostow
Author Charlotte Cameron
Morri Mostow, Editor/Publisher at Fictive Press, and I carefully considered the best date for the launch before booking a slot at our local library. Of utmost importance was to make sure that the books arrived in time for the launch! Although we were cutting it close, it seemed best to go ahead before Remembrance Day, when the atmosphere would be somber and reflective as people remembered the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Great War. By the end of November, we knew the island would be bustling with craft fairs, and a pantomime. Amy Dawley, the head librarian at the Gabriola library, booked us in from 1 to 2 p.m. on November 8th and her staff put up a poster.

To spread the word, Gloria Hatfield sent out a press release from Pages Marina & Resort Bookstore, Morri sent press releases to newspapers and I sent a write-up to the Gabriola Arts Council Newsletter.

Morri consulted with Amy and the library staff about how to arrange 50 chairs to create a theatre effect. This launch would be different, as two actors were going to read excerpts from the play.
We considered sight lines, but once the seats were filled, people still standing good-naturedly tucked themselves in amongst the bookshelves. We had a record turnout and the crowd caused a parking jam in our Folklife Village!

Staging the launch like a play

We staged our presentation like a play. Morri began the event by introducing Fictive Press, a digital and print-on-demand publisher. She explained how she approached me with the idea of publishing my 2001 play for the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, how she proposed to add related materials such as the story of the original play and its productions, historic photographs, and an historical note.
Morri is a good storyteller. She was wearing her grandmother’s lapel watch, explaining that it was probably similar to, although smaller than, the pocket watch Alex had been given by King George V. Already she had the audience wondering about the story behind the watch.
Morri described me as a sort of Scheherazade telling the tale in tantalizing installments, but she did the same thing, hinting at the best-known incident in Alex’s young life. She’d sent me a copy of her talk and so it was easy to craft my thoughts around hers. I enjoyed myself, I love to talk about Alex, but most of all I was looking forward to hearing two actors read scenes from the play. This was a highlight for the audience as well.
Aleksandra Brzozowski and Drew Staniland
I was thrilled by the way Drew Staniland and Aleksandra Brzozowski made the play come alive. Drew wore his own dark-blue jacket, evocative of a policeman’s uniform. Aleksandra looked perfect as Annie Jackson, Canada’s first policewoman, adding a red cape to distinguish Annie from Alex’s sister, Emily, who she also portrayed. The actors brought both characters to life in the fictionalized scene where Alex encourages Annie to think about joining the police service. Her reply is, “Don’t be silly, we women can’t even vote.”
Although my play is a work of imagination, the letters quoted in the play are excerpts from real letters which Alex wrote home to his sister, Emily. I am very grateful to Izola Mottershead, great-niece of Alex Decoteau, for her permission to quote from the letters.

Aleksandra Brzozowski, Drew Staniland 
& Tom Cameron
The actors had rehearsed with the narrator, my husband Tom Cameron, to make their voices overlap as they read excerpts from the letters. It was a poignant reading, “Well Sis, in spite of the fact that we are used very decently by the French people, there’s no use denying the fact that we are all aching and longing for our own beloved Canada.”

“Remember me to Grannie and the children. Remember me to the few friends I have left. For yourself good wishes, love and affection, from your brother, Alex.”

Launch photos courtesy of Cassandre Aras.

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