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The East End Plays: Part 1

The East End Plays: Part 1
Your Price: $24.95 CDN
Sale Price: $19.96 CDN
You Save: $4.99 (20 %)
Author: George F. Walker
Introduction by: Jerry Wasserman
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 255
Pub. Date: 1999
ISBN-10: 0889224137
ISBN-13: 9780889224131
on sale

About the Play:

The original three East End Plays are here published in a completely new and revised edition now called The East End Plays: Part 1.

By the time he was writing Gossip in 1977, George F. Walker had already begun to shift his settings from, on the one hand, North America's colonial roots in Europe, and on the other, its fascination with other, exotically foreign locales. Yet, even in The Power Plays, Walker is still exploring the ironic and dramatic possibilities of the stereotypes (albeit, by this time, home-grown ones) that continue to provide the fertile ground of contemporary North American sensibilities.

With his creation of the Governor General's Award winning Criminals in Love (1984); the Chalmers Award winning Better Living (1986); and Escape from Happiness (1991), Walker embarked on a whole new direction in his evolution as a playwright. Much less of his comic irony now relied on the recognition of character, much more now relied on the creation of character. In a very real way, George Walker had freed himself to "come home." Set in what is transparently a single neighbourhood, the East End of Toronto, these three interrelated plays were quickly collected in a volume called, naturally, The East End Plays, in 1988.

Criminals in Love: A hodgepodge of slapstick, teen romance, and action film, with bits of poetry and social commentary mixed in, Criminals is enjoyably strange. Junior, a schlubby teenage dropout just coming into his own, simply wants to lead a happy life with his girlfriend Gail, an assertive neighbourhood girl with a pragmatic mind and a penchant for liquid eyeliner. Standing in his way is the "problem" of Junior's recently incarcerated, abusive father, who is allowing his brother to suck Junior into the family's world of (poorly) organized crime to save his own skin. Too squeamish to risk his loathsome father's life, Junior agrees, drawing Gail and her friend Sandy into a series of misdemeanours so petty that they include breaking into a Salvation Army warehouse for a few cans of black beans. Crimes escalate and soon the well-intentioned teenagers are facing police lights and the sinking realization that they've become what they hoped to avoid. (Cast: 3 women, 3 men)

Better Living: Years ago, Nora and her daughters, tough-as-nails Elizabeth, hopelessly neurotic Mary Ann, and big-hearted Gail, drove their abusive husband and father out of the house. But now he’s back, seemingly reformed. The three daughters find idiosyncratic ways to deal with their dysfunctional parents. The mother's out-of-the-ordinary ideas include taking a jackhammer to the basement floor to build a bunker where the family can live better. The father, an ex-cop, commandeers his wife's project, spouting dark warnings about the need to save themselves from an imminent invasion by angry foreign hordes putting the whole family into survivalist mode. Sound familiar? Will the family band together to resist him? Or will they fall sway to the persuasive powers of the charismatic strongman? (Cast: 4 women, 3 men)

Escape from Happiness takes place in the kitchen of an old, slightly rundown house in a not-so-classy section of a large city. It is home to Nora, a good-natured, slow-moving, fairly batty middle-aged woman; her daughter Gail, who is tough, sensible, and a little high-strung; and Gail's husband Junior, an affable but rather dim fellow. Also living here is Tom, who is dying of some unspecified disease; Tom is, according to Nora, a stranger who looks exactly like (and coincidentally has the same name as) her husband, who deserted the family ten years ago after trying to burn down the house.

From here, George Walker moved in two related directions: to a further exploration of the margins of contemporary urban life in the global village with the three plays now collected in The East End Plays: Part 2 (1999); and to the continued exploration of linking plays around a single location with the wildly successful six-part Suburban Motel (1998).

What people say:

"One of theatre's most important voices." — Maclean's Magazine

About the Playwright:

George F. Walker is one of Canada's most prolific and widely produced playwrights. His work has been honoured with eight Chalmers Awards and five Dora Awards. His plays Criminals in Love and Nothing Sacred each won Governor General's Awards for Drama. Productions of Nothing Sacred and Love and Anger have met with great success in the United States in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. Zastrozzi has had over 100 productions in the English-speaking world. Problem Child, included in his book, Suburban Motel, won a Chalmers Award for Best New Play.

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