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Mother Tongue

Mother Tongue by Betty Quan Mother Tongue
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Betty Quan
Publisher: Scirocco Drama
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 1896239072
ISBN-13: 9781896239071
Cast Size: 2 women, 2 men

About the Play:

Finalist for the 1996 Governor General's Award for Drama (Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize)

Mother Tongue is full-length drama by Betty Quan. Mimi is a second-generation Canadian whose widowed mother speaks only Cantonese; her 16-year-old brother has lost his hearing and now signs – in English. Mimi acts as their communication bridge. When she gets the chance to go away to school, she has to decide if the family can survive the generation, language and culture gaps. Particularly suitable for schools and play contests.

Mother Tongue is a unique and innovative play about a family divided by language – Chinese, English and sign language. Set in Vancouver, the play follows the life of a Chinese woman whose father sends her to Canada to start a new life. Widowed with two children, she still feels like a foreigner. She has barely learned enough English to get by and when her son loses his hearing, she no longer knows how to communicate with him. Mimi, a 21-year-old aspiring architecture student is the only connection between the outside world and her middle-aged mother, who speaks only Cantonese, and her deaf brother Steve, who communicates in American Sign Language. Now Mimi wants to leave Vancouver to do graduate work in Ontario, and her imminent departure makes Steve and Mother realize how much they have come to depend on her to break through their respective solitudes. Mother Tongue is about family loyalties, youthful dreams, and generational and cultural differences.

Mother Tongue premiered in 1995 at Vancouver's Firehall Arts Centre and was nominated for a Jessie Award for best new play, as well as the Governor General's Literary Award for English Drama. The Toronto premiere was in 2001 at Factory Theatre. It has also been performed in high school theatre productions as a showcase of student talent.

Cast: 2 women, 2 men

What people say:

"Ms. Quan does an admirable job … poetic fluidity." — International Examiner

"A poetic and often moving exploration of the aching desire to overcome separations … Quan is a writer worth following." — Georgia Straight

"Mother Tongue by Vancouver playwright Betty Quan is one of the most beautiful and moving plays to have appeared this Toronto season." — CLASSICAL 96 & 103 FM

"Mother Tongue is a poetic and moving exploration of the desire to overcome separation." — Canadian Book Review Annual

Betty Quan is a Canadian playwright who has written and/or adapted over a dozen acclaimed plays for stage and radio. Her professional credits also encompass writing and story editing for film and television, and published fictions for young readers. She is a graduate of the University of British Columbia.