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Selkirk Avenue

Selkirk Avenue
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
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Author: Bruce McManus
Publisher: Signature Editions / Nuage Editions
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 96
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0921833571
ISBN-13: 9780921833574
Cast Size: 3 women, 3 men

About the Play:

Finalist for the 1998 Governor General's Award for Drama (Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize)

Selkirk Avenue is a full-length comedy by Bruce McManus. The setting of this play may be Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg's working-class North End, but there is a neighbourhood like it in every major city – the place to which new immigrants first come. Featuring a Jewish family, a First Nations family, a Polish family and a narrator named Harold, the play functions as a kind of multicultural Our Town.

Selkirk Avenue, long the street of dreams for new immigrants to Winnipeg, is seen through a close-up lens in this play. Harold, who has recorded the lives of the inhabitants from his photography studio through the changes of the years, is both guide and participant, taking us into the lives of the waves of immigrants – Jews, Ukrainians, Poles, Filipinos, Chinese – and Indigenous peoples who arrive in and depart from the neighbourhood. The play explores the sense of community achieved as much by hate and anger as by love. As well, it examines the cruelties and betrayals that emerge between parents who merely want a better life for their children, and offspring who, to find that life, must leave behind much their parents hold dear. It's all part of the democracy of poverty that Harold confidentially explains. In the process, he brings to life the neighbourhood, shows its importance and reveals what he has lost and gained. When it was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Drama, the jury said of Selkirk Avenue: "Quintessentially Canadian in its content, the play's appeal resides in McManus's skill in drawing us into the particular and varied lives of inhabitants of Winnipeg's North End over 75 years, and in doing so, speaking to all of us."

Selkirk Avenue premiered in 1990 by Popular Theatre Alliance in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The US premiere was in 1991 at History Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Cast: 3 women, 3 men

What people say:

"McManus could be called Winnipeg's playwright laureate, with a reputation for realistic characters, crisp dialogue and meticulous attention to his craft. All these strengths are displayed in Selkirk Avenue, an almost faultless dramatic portrait." — Theatrum

"A sensitive yet hard-hitting portrait, Selkirk Avenue is a roller coaster of emotions… Outrageously funny, tenderly touching and as down and dirty mean as a North End mongrel." — Uptown

"McManus has crafted a story whose broad reach is matched by its sure grasp. The history of Selkirk Avenue as a haven-cum-springboard for successive minorities is told in a complex but comprehensible and emotionally irresistible tale that winds back and forth through the 30s, 50s, and the present." — Winnipeg Free Press

"It's a beautifully written show, timeless and yet with the fresh feeling of something wonderfully new. Selkirk Avenue is touching, and angry, and sad and wise all at once. It's also very funny, and very 'right,' in the way fiction can sometimes come closer to truth than fact." — The Winnipeg Sun

About the Playwright:

Bruce McManus is a Canadian playwright, Artistic Director and educator. He is the author of over twenty plays including Selkirk Avenue, which was nominated for a Governor General's Award for Drama and was produced in both Canada and the United States. He has taught playwriting at university, in high schools and through continuing education programs. He has lived across Canada, but has spent most of his life in Winnipeg.

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