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The Queens

The Queens
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: Normand Chaurette
Translated by: Linda Gaboriau
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 95
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 088922403X
ISBN-13: 9780889224032
Cast Size: 6 women

About the Play:

Winner of the 1993 Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award

The Queens (English version of Les reines) is a full-length drama by Normand Chaurette, translated by Linda Gaboriau. Inspired by Shakespeare's Richard III, The Queens tells the story of six ruthless and passionate royal women, all vying for a chance at power. Set just prior to Richard III's ascent to the throne, the women struggle against the ties of blood, marriage and political circumstance, as they attempt to secure their position in the new monarchy.

The Queens is an evocative fantasy drama that depicts the classic struggle for power and stature as six queens vie for the throne. It is London, 1483. From the aged Duchess of York, who is 99 years old, to young Lady Anne, who must marry Richard III in order to reign, to the Duchess' daughter Anne Dexter who has no hands, The Queens traces the shifting passions and ambitions of the six women drawn from Shakespeare's theatre and portrayed here in the timelessness of their quest which, like that of all queens, is both visceral and political. These noble women are trapped in a world they vie to control, where nothing goes quite as it should. As this mysteriously beautiful story unfolds in corridors and hallways, the women find themselves caught in the complex dance of life, grappling with selfish aims, painful losses and the blinding desire for the crown. Each of the characters carries her own unique set of secrets, and we are left with questions and impressions that linger in the imagination.

As Ernst Kantorowicz has said so clearly in The King's Two Bodies, all royal personae exist in two worlds: the private world of their needs and desires; and the public world where they become the emblematic icon of the realm. It is on the ritualized ground between these two worlds where the human drama is seen most clearly in all of its comic and tragic, temporal and metaphysical astonishments. Yet this traditionally male ground has rarely been explored with women's characters, and has even less frequently been presented in the context of the primal mystery it ultimately is – the vision of public majesty in the instant before the death of the private body. Written in rich and lyrical verse, Normand Chaurette gives voice to these often unheard characters, showing the humanity and frustration behind their crowns. It is an incredible journey into the dark and ever-shifting world of the queens.

Les Reines premiered in 1990 at Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui in Montréal and in English as The Queens in 1992 at Canadian Stage in Toronto. Both won several honours, including a Chalmers Award and a Dora Award. First published in English translation in 1992, this newer edition of The Queens contains the latest revisions by the author and the translator. The play has been performed in regional repertory, fringe festival, college, and community theatre productions in Canada and the US.

Cast: 6 women

What people say:

"Normand understands implicitly that endings are but beginnings, and so the mystery continues and gathers power in its constant unfolding. Poor shadows. Painted queens. A dream of what we were. A breath. A bubble. I love this play." — Peter Hinton, Director

"The Queens combines an extreme refinement or subtlety of style with leanings to the abnormal or artificial in content. Ritual, as well, has its role to play. For dramatic intensity and beauty of language and the craftsmanship of Classic Theatre's staging, Chaurette's The Queens is a must-see." — Dallas Voice

"This is a theatre of allusions, metaphysical playwriting of a literary richness which has yet to find its equal in Québec drama." — Le Devoir

About the Playwright:

Normand Chaurette is a three-time winner of the Governor General's Award for French-language drama (Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize). Playwright, translator and non-fiction author, he excels on all levels of writing: his plays and translations of plays have been staged and acclaimed internationally, particularly in the U.S. and Europe. His own plays have also been translated into several languages. He lives in his native Montréal.

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