Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre to Stage Controversial Play That Depicts Marshall McLuhan During His Final Year


The February 22, 2018 issue of the Toronto Globe & Mail newspaper reports that a play by Canadian playwright Jason Sherman titled The Message that had originally been scheduled for their 2003 – 04 season is one of the seven Canadian plays to be staged during their upcoming 2018-19 season.

It had originally been shelved because of the opposition, including possible legal action, by Marshall McLuhan’s widow, Corinne.  The play speculatively depicts Marshall’s condition after a massive stroke he suffered in 1979. Biographer Philip Marchand described his condition thus: “Ten days after he entered St. Michael’s Hospital he underwent surgery to help restore circulation of blood to his brain. Two weeks after the operation he walked out of the hospital. He eventually regained almost complete physical mobility – but his ability to write had been annihilated.” He was paralyzed on his right side. “Worst of all, he could no longer speak, except for a few odd phrases. ” (Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, p. 281).

It is understandable that the McLuhan family would be pained by an actor fictionally depicting their husband, father and grandfather in an enacted state of relative helplessness. When I contacted Michael McLuhan to inquire about whether the Estate would oppose this latest plan for staging, he provided the following statement that represents the views of the family: “Marshall’s widow, Corinne McLuhan, was appalled when she became aware of and read the script. In no way does the Estate endorse or sanction this production.” However, the family has chosen not to oppose production on this occasion.

For readers with a Globe & Mail subscription or online access past their paywall, the Globe’s article can be found here  Jason Sherman has written extensively for the stage, radio, and television. His plays include Remnants (A Fable); It’s All TruePatienceReading HebronThe RetreatThe League of NathansAn Acre of Time, and Three in the Back, Two in the Head, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. He served as executive story editor and writer on the TV series ReGenesis, earning Gemini and Canadian Screenwriting Award nominations. For CBC Radio he wrote “National Affairs,” “Irving Invectus,” and “Graf,” for which he received the Canadian Screenwriting Award for radio drama. He is currently working on several television, radio and film projects. He lives in Toronto. [Sherman is Tarragon’s current playwright-in-residence, a position he held to much applause for most of the 1990s.] (Source: ) A More extensive biography is available in the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia:   

One Response to “Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre to Stage Controversial Play That Depicts Marshall McLuhan During His Final Year”

  1. 1 Terry Gordon

    A stage play about MM’s final year! Anyone interested in the script of mine about all his years, contact me directly at or

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