All the store's a stage for a Canadian reading of "A Community Target." /Robert Motum
When Target decided to abandon its Canadian expansion attempts in 2015, our neighbors to the north may have lost 133 purveyors of reasonably-priced goods but they gained a play.
"A Community Target" will have its first staged reading Dec. 3 in an empty former Target store in Hamilton, Ontario. Playwright Robert Motum says he began to think about the play when he sensed something missing from news coverage of the Target-out-of-town.
"All the media focused on the financial side, the business side of it, but I was curious about the human side of the story, so I started talking to people, customers and former employees," says Motum, whose interviews included everyone from those who lost jobs to those who simply missed the fresh smell of walking into a Target store.
As "A Community Target" began to take shape, so did the idea of actually staging it in a building with a big red ball out front.
"In my home town, I passed it nearly every day, just sitting there empty, void of retail space. I wanted to see something creative, something positive, something cathartic come out of it," says Motum. "Returning these stories to that building is really interesting."
Interesting, maybe, but Motum discovered that getting his hands on -- and his actors into -- an empty Target was not as easy as it sounds. Red tape blocked his efforts until he joined forces with a Hamilton group that has staged various community events in the former Target.
The eventual goal for "A Community Target," which traces the Target story from excitement about the stores hitting Canada to the devastating aftermath (in Canada, as well as south of the 49th parallel), is a full production that will immerse audiences in the site-specific drama as they move throughout the playing space. That space has yet to be determined but Motum hopes, of course, to do the full production in a former Target.
"There are still dozens of them available around the country," says Motum. "People joke that we could do a national tour."