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If We Were Birds

If We Were Birds
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Erin Shields
Publisher: Playwrights Canada Press
# of Pages: 77
Pub. Date: 2012
ISBN-10: 1770910123
ISBN-13: 9781770910126
Cast Size: 7 women, 2 men

About the Play:

Winner of the 2011 Governor General's Award for Drama (Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize)

If We Were Birds is a full-length drama by Erin Shields. The war in Athens is over. Love blossoms as Procne leaves her beloved sister Philomela for a new life with husband King Tereus. Bored, Philomela begs to see her sister when the unexpected happens and her life is transformed to mythic proportions. This empowering revenge tragedy is an unflinching commentary on contemporary war and its aftermath delivered through the lens of Greek tragedy.

If We Were Birds is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses, the poem that also inspired Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, and is a poetic re-telling of the Greek myth of sisters Philomela and Procne. When King Pandion marries his daughter Procne off to war hero King Tereus, she must return with him to Thrace and is separated from her beloved sister Philomela. After years of isolation in a foreign land, Procne begs Tereus to collect her sister for a visit. But when Tereus is confronted with Philomela's beauty, his desire triumphs over reason, igniting a chain of horrific events. This epic exploration of violence and revenge features a chorus of ravaged women plucked from the 20th Century's most brutal conflicts – Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Nanking, and Berlin – delivering a play that is both ancient and contemporary, mythic and immediate. Ultimately a story of triumph, Erin Shields gives wings to her protagonists and sets them free to soar above indignity.

If We Were Birds received a workshop production at The Summerworks Festival 2008 and premiered in 2010 at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, Ontario. The production received five Dora Mavor Moore nominations, including Outstanding New Play. It has been widely produced and translated into French, German, Italian and Albanian.

Cast: 7 women, 2 men

What people say:

"If We Were Birds is a necessary discovery for adventurous theatregoers unafraid of confronting the most unwanted of truths - that inhumanity is only human." — The Globe & Mail

"Shields's dialogue is direct and immediate, grounded in solid details." — NOW Toronto

About the Playwright:

Erin Shields is a Canadian playwright and actor who trained at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in London, England. She is a founding member of Groundwater Productions through which she creates, develops, and produces much of her work. She is best known for her play If We Were Birds, which won the prestigious Governor General Award for Drama.