The sequel, “Sonja Weissman and the Atomic Secrets.”
A 2 Act play-in-development
2 staged readings in December, 2017, and April 18, 2018
A brief SYNOPSIS of the sequel, “Sonja Weissman and the Atomic Secrets.”
Set in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, this new play-in-development takes place over a New Year’s celebration in the present when 84 year old M.J. Young has invited her old friends for a reunion. She lives in her Nana’s house that is called “The Nellie Stewart Head Start Center for New Canadians.”
The play is also set in the past, back in 1946/47, a year that marked the beginning of the Cold War. While visiting i M.J. in her Nana’s house in Ottawa, Sonja, along with Joan and Patsy, become aware of the greater world and in particular, the Soviet espionage to steal the atomic Secrets. M.J’s mother, Charlotte, has a new “friend” who is a journalist for the Ottawa Journal. Karl Fischer is covering the story of Igor Gouzenko, the Russian cipher clerk who has defected from the Soviet Embassy with documents revealing the spy ring in Canada and the United States. If that isn’t enough, the sudden antipathy to the Soviets and Communists, has negatively affected the immigration policies regarding Canada’s acceptance of Jewish refugees from Europe. M.J’s Nana, the hostess, believes in the immigration policy of “None is Too Many” articulated by an Immigration official. This causes a confrontation with Nana, the imperious Mrs. Stewart over the fact that M.J. did not inform her that Sonja was Jewish. The young girls’ experience during this memorable New Year’s weekend affects them personally and politically, in ways that will impact the women they become. Their reunion 70 years later in the same house after they find each other on Facebook, brings startling new insights about their lives and what has happened to the world in the intervening years. Basically, Themes of how local and world events affect and form our fears and attitudes towards immigration, prejudice and enduring friendship are explored in this serious but often comical and heartwarming play.
How I came to write this play.
A suggestion from two of the young actors from the original play began the process. So they could find out what happened to them next. I began researching what was happening in the world 70 years ago and soon realized that world events today uncannily reflect the uncovering 70 years ago of a Soviet spy ring centered in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. The goal of the espionage was to acquire atomic secrets developed in the Manhattan Project. Even though I was very young at the time, about 8 years old, I remember very vividly the photos of Igor Gouzenko, hooded by a pillowcase, in the newspapers.
I did a google search to see if anyone had written a play about him and couldn’t find anything. There was a movie made in 1948, “The Iron Curtain” the story of the start of the Cold War with Dana Andrews and Jean Tierney.