Kaleb Alexander as Lawrence Hill defending The Book of Negroes. Birdtown & Swanville perform their Freedom to Read Week play, Dear Censor

For this year’s Freedom to Read Week in Canada – the 30th anniversary event – I was honoured to get the chance to collaborate with some hard-working friends who are not part of the book biz, and whose work I greatly admire. On Tuesday, February 25 at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, the Book & Periodical Council, which organizes Freedom to Read Week, and Birdtown & Swanville, a local theatre club, presented DEAR CENSOR: a short play about censorship.

The play featured letters by Margaret Atwood, Lawrence Hill, Margaret Laurence, Rohinton Mistry, Ann Patchett and others, written at different points in time in defence of their own work. Birdtown & Swanville turned these letters into a play about censorship that was original, unusual and a first for Freedom to Read Week. Oh, and it was also fabulous and very fun.

The event got a feature write-up in Hazlitt.

Birdtown & Swanville’s Aurora Stewart de Pena appeared on CBC Radio One’s Metro Morning to talk it up, and Gill Deacon got well behind it on her drive-home show, Here & Now.

Further coverage for this year’s Freedom to Read Week included:

  • An interview with author and former children’s librarian Ken Setterington in the 49th Shelf.
  • An essay by a Calgary student about free expression that was published in the Huffington Post.
  • A challenged books quiz in Quill & Quire.
  • An info-graphic about book challenges in Canada at CBC Books.
  • An article about intellectual freedom in Canada from CJFE.

Freedom to Read Week is a programme of the Book & Periodical Council. The annual Freedom to Read Week event in Toronto is organized by the Book & Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Events Committee, on which I am a volunteer. I am also a freelance publicist for Freedom to Read Week.