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It would be a crime if you missed GCTC’s Lawyer Play

By Barbara Popel on May 21, 2021

Since 1999, members of the Carleton County Law Association have raised a considerable amount of money for the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) and for a local charity partner by putting on the annual Lawyer Play. This year the event will take place May 31 to June 11, all online.

GCTC’s Artistic Director supplies an assortment of scripts for the Lawyer Play Committee to choose from. Then, a professional director and technical crew shepherd the amateur thespians through auditions, rehearsals, and several performances before very engaged audiences at GCTC. Last year, a script was chosen, the show was cast and beginning rehearsals, but COVID-19 restrictions forced everything to be put on the back burner. This year, however, GCTC suggested the legal folks put on an audio play, to which the Lawyer Play Committee immediately said “Yes!”

Scene from the 2019 Lawyer Play. Photo: Andrew Alexander.

The Committee selected the Ottawa Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund to share in the ticket proceeds. Tickets are “pick-your-price,” ranging from $10 to $70. Those who purchase tickets over $10 will receive a tax receipt by late June for most of the price of the ticket. Additional donations can be made as well.

This year’s Lawyer Play will actually be two short audio plays, about 40 minutes each, which are prerecorded and available on Vimeo from May 31 to June 11. The plays are Agatha Christie’s The Case of the Careless Client, featuring the fastidious Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and The Case of the Big Top Murders, in which Dick Tracy battles a brutal criminal. People who purchase a ticket can listen to each play as often as they wish. As of May 31, you can even download transcripts of the two plays.

So, two worthy causes and the opportunity for some fun listening to two “old-timey” radio shows…sounds like a good case can be made for buying a ticket!

Kate Smith of Skeleton Key Theatre is the director and the actors—well, you’ll have to buy a ticket to find out who’s in the cast, but I happen to know one of them is Janice Payne, a senior partner at Nelligan Law. I chatted with Ms. Payne about this year’s Lawyer Play.

Apt613: You’ve acted in the Lawyer Play quite a few times. How many plays have you been in?

Janice Payne: This is my 10th, plus three cameos before I thought of auditioning. It looked like fun, so eventually I auditioned. And it certainly is a lot of fun!

Each play involves a lot of each lawyer’s time. Why do you do it?

It’s a way to meet other lawyers I wouldn’t normally see. I enjoy their company. GCTC is very good to us; they make us look really good. Plus, it adds to the community. And it’s not shocking that lawyers would enjoy acting because we do it so often—whether in court or in negotiations.

I’ve attended most of the Lawyer Plays and I agree—they are very good performances. As a matter of fact, when you did The Crucible, it was the best production I’d seen of that play.

I’m glad you liked it. Playing Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible was my favourite role.

The big change this year is that the play is audio—just like a 1930s radio play, except it’s available online and on demand. How have preparations been different?

No memorizing! But we did two full three-hour rehearsals, then recording from each person’s home. There’s music, sound effects, even radio ads from our sponsors. Oh, and check out the accents! For example, the Agatha Christie play is set in New York City and features the famous Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Ted Mann, who plays Poirot, really nailed his accent. I’m playing someone from Maine, and I think I did a pretty fair Maine accent.

This year’s Lawyer Play will be prerecorded and available on Vimeo from May 31 to June 11. Details and tickets can be found here.