Four great very Canadian plays to read

Canadian literature, or CanLit as we call it, is often thought of as comprising of stories that that have strong geographic and historic connections to the country, besides just being stories that come from Canada. CanLit exists in Canadian drama as well, of course. Here are some plays that can get you acquainted with Canada and its theatre.

Bone Cage cover image Photo of Catherine Banks

Bone Cage by Catherine Banks

This winner of the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama is a poetic and darkly humorous portrayal of life in rural Nova Scotia, where stripping the environment means stripping your soul. Bone Cage examines how young people in rural Canadian communities, employed in the destruction of the environment they love, treat the people they love at the end of their shift.

Oil and Water cover image Photo of Robert Chafe

Oil and Water by Robert Chafe

This play is based on the true story of Lanier Phillips, one of the few survivors of the 1942 wreck of the USS Truxtun and the first Black man to be seen by the residents of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland. A haunting and hopeful tale of two cultures, Oil and Water is an honest legend that still resonates seventy years later.

Proud cover image Photo of Michael Healey

Proud by Michael Healey

This biting political satire is based on the 2011 Canadian federal election, shortly after the Conservative party won the majority government. In this story, the prime minister discovers that a member of parliament doesn’t quite understand her role, and uses her ignorance to his advantage. Humorous and clever, Proud explores the corrosive nature of the politics of division.

Maggie and Pierre cover image Photo of Linda Griffiths

Maggie and Pierre by Linda Griffiths (In Maggie and Pierre & The Duchess)

This one-woman show chronicles the relationship that shaped a modern nation: that of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his wife, Margaret. Griffiths presents Pierre as the philosopher king of Canada, and Margaret as his flower-child wife, along with a disillusioned reporter, Henry. Within their triangle of classic archetypes, personal love view with love of country, and passion challenges reason, steering Canadian history. This might catch even more attention now that their son, Justin, is currently the Canadian Prime Minister.

— Jessica Lewis, Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Playwrights Canada Press