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Motherhouse

Motherhouse
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: David Fennario
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 128
Pub. Date: 2014
ISBN-10: 0889228485
ISBN-13: 9780889228481
Cast Size: 1 woman

About the Play:

Motherhouse is a full-length drama by David Fennario. From the renowned playwright behind Canadian classics Balconville and Joe Beef, this spirited and moving tribute gives a voice to the disillusioned working class "Bomb Girls" employed at the British Munitions Factory in Verdun, Quebec, during World War I. Tragically, the working class town was decimated by the war, sacrificing more soldiers to both World Wars than any other place in Canada.

Motherhouse is about the feisty and humorous Lillabit, a character inspired by David Fennario's own mother, who assembles bombs in a Verdun factory during WWI. With tensions running high over conscription and linguistic and religious issues, more than 4,000 women assembled artillery shells for one of Canada's most important munitions factories during World War I. Meanwhile, their beloved soldiers die on battlefields overseas while their children starve at home as prices rise because of war profiteering. These dedicated mothers, wives, sisters, and sweethearts risked their lives working with poisonous substances to support the war effort and inadvertently find themselves assembled to bring about change both in their working conditions and in their personal lives. Disillusioned and grief-stricken, they ultimately led a strike against conscription. A companion to his war protest play, Bolsheviki, this one-woman show similarly debunks the sentimental notions of duty, heroism, and nationhood that figured so prominently in Canadian war effort campaigns.

Motherhouse premiered in 2014 at the venerable Centaur Theatre, the oldest English-language theatre in Montréal. The play has been performed in college theatre productions as a showcase of student talent.

Cast: 1 woman

What people say:

"Our narrator is a woman named Lillabit, although it seems Fennario's true protagonist is the city of Verdun, itself a tragic hero of the Great War, and a site of warfare ... Motherhouse challenges Canadian theatregoers' expectations of what it is to experience a one-person show. … it is more a poetic political essay told through a theatrical character than it is a theatrical exploration of character involving political themes. ... Fennario is working against the practices in theatre-making that serve to depoliticize creative output. He tasks us to tell real stories that can facilitate change: ‘No more pretending to be someone else on or offstage.' … Just as Lillabit's anti-war storytelling interrupts the militaristic, romanticized, red poppy-filled narrative of World War I that permeates Canadiana, Fennario's script is an attempt to interrupt dominant practices of theatre-making." — Montreal Review of Books

"...a powerful work, rendered magnificently ... the play's real subject is the choice we all face: to fight or uphold injustice." — Amir Khadir [translated]

"a vituperative indictment of class inequality, as expressed through a working-class Verdun woman's experience of the war. It's also darkly hilarious at all the wrong moments, for which I am personally eternally grateful … a very punk-rock production that takes aim at both modern and older manifestations of inequality, the use of the police state, and the perils of unfettered capitalism. I think that this play will take a lot of people by surprise (and anger a whole lot more)." — Bloody Underrated

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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