The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Photo of a character from the play The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

This was a big mainstage show at the Vancouver Playhouse. The premiere was an unmitigated disaster. I had conceived the play to be performed without sets, props or costumes, inspired by the British company Shared Experience. Really simple and small. But somehow it got picked to be a mainstage Christmas show and before you knew it, it became, well…big. I could go on at length, but I’ll give you this one taste of the most nightmarish opening night I’ve ever had: Before a packed house, Quasimodo swooped down to save Esmerelda from the gallows, and as he cried the famous line “Sanctuary!” he started to drag her off without removing the noose from around her neck. The actress gagged, choking—and the audience, suddenly assuming that this production was an homage to Monty Python, roared with laughter. Luckily, she was not injured, the rope was removed and the play carried on. And I was carried off, tarred and feathered, and subsequently hid in my room for several weeks.

The pain abated after time, and the play has gone onto several successful productions, with no new strangulations.

Visit The Playwrights Guild to order a copy.

Contact Michael Petrasek at Kensington Literary Representation for performance rights information.