This play is a historical drama highlighting the humanitarian and nursing career of Nova Scotia native, Sara Corning. We encounter the elderly Sara in her family home in Chegoggin, Yarmouth County, where she faces the prospect of being moved into private care by concerned relatives who feel that she is no longer able to cope safely on her own. Now, at age 90, Sara is no longer in control of her own destiny, decisions are being made for her; a role reversal. Sara rails against this perceived injustice to an unseen visitor, as she recalls key moments from her career in an attempt to prove her competence. Each recollection is triggered by an object in an old suitcase with which she travelled throughout the Near East. Once strong and resilient, she has spent a lifetime caring for the victims of violence and calamity; from the the Halifax Explosion (1917) to her decoration by King George II of Greece (1923) in recognition of her extraordinary acts of bravery and selfless service to a nation’s most vulnerable citizens during the Armenian Genocide. Sara draws from her memories of the resilience of the many children she saved and thereby comes to terms with her circumstances.
Christine Bolger developed this script in support of an initiative by the Sara Corning Society to bring recognition of this virtually unknown hero to her home community in Nova Scotia and beyond. Initially, Chris brought the idea of a skit to her co-members of the Write Away Group of Yarmouth. A one-time performance of the resulting group effort took place at the SW branch of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia during Seafest festivities in the summer of 2016. Interest from the community made it clear that more was needed. For the next two years Chris continued to research and find new material for a large cast play. In July of 2018 a reading of the working script was arranged among local performers to inform further revisions. By the fall of that year, Chris was ready to submit the play to various theatre companies in the province, and she was eventually contacted by the LunaSea Theatre Co. in the winter of 2018. They were interested in Sara’s story, but felt that the play could be adapted for a single performer, making it more cost effective and easily produced. Chris met with actors Martha Irving and Rachel Hastings, and dramaturge Ryanne Chisholm, who read the play and began a discussion about next steps. Over the course of the winter Chris worked with Ryanne and Martha to restructure the play for a single actor. In cooperation with the Sara Corning Society, the resulting script was to be performed as part of an elaborate commemoration weekend in September of 2019.
Applications for funding made by the Society and by LunaSea were unsuccessful so local businesses and individuals were canvassed and sufficient capital was raised for a single staged reading of the play with Martha Irving in the title role. Memories of Sara Corning was performed on September 13th to a capacity audience at one of Yarmouth’s historic churches, directed by Ryanne Chisholm, with technical support from Jocelyn Pringle and videography by David Mahoney. Religious and political dignitaries from as far away as Greece and Armenia were in attendance and their response was overwhelmingly positive. Feedback from the general audience was solicited and used to identify ways in which to polish the script. Early in the New Year following the staged reading, Chris was contacted by the Sara Corning Centre for Genocide Education in Toronto. Their board was interested in bringing the play to Toronto for a series of student performances. Chris contacted PARC to arrange for a dramaturge to review the script to inform any adjustments that she might be advised to make for a younger audience. The play was read by Jenny Munday and her notes were used to make revisions in preparation for its staging in Toronto.
**At this time, further progress towards a Toronto performance has been suspended due to COVID. Memories of Sara Corning remains unpublished.