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Balconville

Balconville
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: David Fennario
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 121
Pub. Date: 1980
ISBN-10: 0889221456
ISBN-13: 9780889221451
Cast Size: 3 women, 6 men

About the Play:

Winner of the 1980 Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award

Balconville is a full-length drama by David Fennario. This award-winning play paints a compelling portrait of life among Montreal's working class across the French and English language divide. These quarrelling working-class types – four French Canadians against four Anglophones – retreat to their balconies to escape their stuffy flats; hence the play's title. Canada's first bilingual play, with about a third of the dialogue performed in French, it has remained a classic.

Balconville is the name one of the characters ironically gives the working class district where the balconies provide a dubious refuge from the heat of a Montréal summer. Three families and Thibault, the neighbourhood drunk, sit on their balconies. It is election time and Gaétan Bolduc is running for re-election for the Liberals. His broadcast truck roams the streets playing the music of Elvis Presley and making election promises that infuriate the families and their friends. As a result, we see the English and the French-Canadian working class take on the Establishment. He later wrote Banana Boots, a memoir/performance piece about taking Balconville to Belfast.

Balconville premiered in 1979 to sell-out crowds at the venerable Centaur Theatre, the oldest English-language theatre in Montréal. It won the prestigious Chalmers Award and became an instant classic of the Canadian theatre performed that same year in Toronto and Ottawa, and went on to international success at the Old Vic Theatre in London and the Grand Opera House in Belfast. The play has enjoyed massive popular and critical success, and has been remounted many times.

Cast: 3 women, 6 men

What people say:

"The bilingual nature of the drama makes it a great play instead of a good one, but the setting itself could be anywhere. Balconville is a work of genius. It's angry, bitter, cruel and funny. It's a real vision of this country – and even more rare – it's a moment when bilingualism has found a voice." — Globe and Mail

"When a final analysis is made of twentieth-century Canadian theatre, the most significant political playwright will undoubtedly be David Fennario." — Canadian Book Review

About the Playwright:

David Fennario is an anglophone playwright and a novelist born David Wiper in Montréal. He grew up and still lives in the working class district of Verdun-Pointe St. Charles, and zoomed from obscurity to national fame in 1979 with his play Balconville. His pen name, given to him by a girlfriend, was part of a Bob Dylan song, Pretty Peggy-O. He worked in a number of small jobs before he enrolled in Dawson College. With his teachers encouragement, he developed and fine tuned his creative writing skills. He was the first writer-in-residence at Montréal's Centaur Theatre, has won the Chalmers award twice, and received the Prix Pauline Julien from the United Steelworkers' Union.

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