In an interview after the performance, Mike Hughes, Montreal native and theatre actor, said what’s special about A Line in the Sand is the responsibility in telling its remarkable story.
“I think the toughest part is to do the story justice,” he said in reference to the 1993 Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia, when Shidane Arone was tortured and killed, and Albert Camus’s L’Ã‰tranger, on which the script is based.
“As strange as this sounds, I haven’t looked at this play as about war… For me, it was so much about people and so much about our needs and our fears, our hopes, our wants and our failures.”
To him, this play has an effect of bringing the issues closer to the audience which otherwise would have been glossed over.
“When we take a closer look at this issue, how do you feel? When it’s not just a headline and it’s the people who are involved and their lives and their past and you start to have a bigger puzzle with many more pieces. What do you make of that?”
Playing the part of the 16-year-old Palestinian boy, Sadiq, is Glenda Braganza. The Canadian actress of Indian descent (who is really 31), said she was unsure whether to take the part at first. It was only once the play’s director, Mike Payette, gave her his vote of confidence that she decided to tackle the role.
“When he said I could do it, I trusted him.”
Her gender bending turn as Sadiq was also an emotional challenge to endure.
“Let alone the fact that I’m crossing genders and crossing cultures, just the sheer content and the reality of what happened to this boy is huge.”
The story of her character hit her close to home. It reminded her of the real life version of events surrounding the murder of Arone at the hands of Canadian soldiers. She recounted her being in high school in Ottawa when that happened.
“When the shit hit the fan [in 1993], the tension was palpable and the issues were very much in my face as a kid.” According to Braganza, there were a large number of Somalian refugees living in her neighborhood growing up.
“I think the most memorable part of this performance is the hardest part, which is the portrayal of the torture of Sadiq. It really resonates and affects me…it is literally and specifically based on the story of [Arone].”