Plays mine Sudbury’s past – by Laura Stradiotto (Sudbury Star – April 30, 2018)

Prepare to delve into the heart and history of Northern Ontario this week during Pat The Dog’s sixth annual Playsmelter Festival. Featuring creators from the region and afar, Playsmelter offers audiences the chance to see Canadian theatre in all stages of development. The festival, which features Sudbury-inspired narratives, starts today and runs until Saturday at the Sudbury Theatre Centre.

Adric Cluff usually writes about zombies and vampires, yet penning a play based on American inventor Thomas Edison and his influence in Sudbury at the turn of the 20th century was more extraordinary than any fiction he ever encountered.

Cluff explores the famous inventor’s visit to the Sudbury region in the early 1900s, his mining exploration and influence on the founding of Inco Limited. Cluff dug into the city’s archives and found plenty of supporting evidence of the inventor’s influence at the time, including an invitation from the mayor to visit the booming mining town.

“The reason he wanted to come here was he wanted nickel to put it into batteries so he could power electric vehicles at the turn of the century,” said Cluff. “That’s how far ahead of the curve this guy was. The story dramatizes that pursuit.”

Cluff said his play captures the controversial figure during one of the only times he could be considered heroic. The ‘Nickel Notes’ were his handwritten scribblings about all the nickel claims of the era, what he thought of them and the people involved.

“The final irony is now all the mining companies are transferring their trucks from diesel and gas to lithium-ion batteries, so everything has come full circle,” said Cluff. “The man finally, in a very roundabout way, got his wish. He did change the world with electric power batteries, it just took 200 years longer than he planned.”

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