Jerome: The Historical Spectacle

Written by:

Ami McKay

    Genre:

    Drama
    Historical
    Myth/Legend/Folktale

    Themes:

    19th Century
    Canadian History
    Disability
    Nova Scotia

    Length:

    100 min.

    Year Written:

    2008

    Synopsis:

    “In the mid-nineteenth century a man who became known as Jerome was alleged to have been found on the shores of Baie Sainte-Marie, Nova Scotia, mute and missing both legs. He lived for over forty years with a local family. Many attempts were made to locate his relatives, with hopefuls rumoured to have travelled from as far away as Alabama and Milan, but when he died in 1912 the mystery of his background was still unsolved. The story of Jerome, the Mystery Man of Sandy Cove, has turned up in various collections of folk history over the years. Now, best-selling novelist Ami McKay has written a play centred on Jerome’s appearances as a sideshow curiosity. Like sliding panels, the knowns of Jerome’s story interchange with fantastical elements of the sideshow.”

    “The headline from The Yarmouth Times, June 19, 1899, read ‘Jerome’ to be Exhibited,” says McKay. “Uncovering this bit of Jerome’s history haunted me from the start, taking me on a journey from the world of Acadian folklore to the world of sideshows and circus freaks. What brings one human being to abandon another? How do we measure the worth of an individual’s life? When lives intersect, who can say if we are curses or gifts to one another? Is it happenstance, fate, magic, divine intervention? As these questions stewed in my thoughts, I realized that the historical record held no answers. What had begun as an exercise in historical observation soon became a journey of unexpected twists and turns. In the end, it was the telling of his tale, with all its wild, varied facts and fictions—that brought forth the ghosts of his truth.” (From the Publisher’s Website)

    Characters:

    “A pair of conjoined twin sisters triple as childhood playmates, nosy housewives, and features in Celestin Trahan’s sideshow. Jerome’s rescuers, Isobel Costa and her daughter Madeline, Father Richard, and the meddlesome Dr. Sanders likewise coexist in multiple frames of reality and dream.”

    First Produced:

    Aug. 2008, Two Planks and a Passion, “Theatre Off the Grid” outdoor series, Canning, Nova Scotia

    Resources:

    Jerome: The Historical Spectacle is available through Gaspereau Press.

    Notes:

    Notes on the historical figure of Jérôme can be found on the Baie Sainte-Marie website.

    Visit the playwright’s website here.