Eulalie Confronts Philip Kgosana

These promo photos for “Eulalie and the Great March,” by Flora Stohr-Danziger, were taken by Duncan McAllister.

I am directing the Saturday ‘Experiment,’ part of the New Ideas Festival 2007. For more information about my show on March 10, or on the other shows in this three week series, go to the website: New Ideas. You will find links to photos from all of the shows as well as ticket information.

New Ideas is a venue for new plays of all kinds. There is a mix of humour and drama. If you are a playwright, talented in penning short works, you might want to submit a script next year.

The Saturday experiment is unique, a staged reading done expressly for the purpose of inviting audience feedback. Our reading is not a static reading of lines but it is experimental. The artistic producers asked us to put on “Eulalie and the Great March” twice: once in monologue form as it was originally written, and once in dialogue form. Flora Stohr-Danziger did the rewrite and we consulted (and ate some lovely lunches together) before she left for South Africa.

Crispy crunchy return

Thanks to “Anonymous” for your comment. This is a site on the Internet that could have been designed for me. Use it to name your own cereal. I’ve chosen the obvious but you don’t have to.

Try the link and litter your blogs with your own crispy, crunchy confections:

Irreverent and Moral Reviews

L’Apocalypse à Kamloops:

The Théâtre Français de Toronto does a lot of unique, interesting stuff. They do the usual French favorites, of course. If you like interesting takes on classic comedies by Molière, this is your theatre. It’s also a good way to see the latest Michel Tremblay plays. Best of all, they do new material.

The latest foray, L’Apocalypse à Kamloops, is about a family with 25 hours left to live. An urbane angel and her earthy apprentice are given the job of helping them resolve their conflicts and redeem themselves before an enormous asteroid hits the Earth.

I am a fan of absurd theatre but after reading Albert CamusThe Myth of Sisyphus in my lonely dorm room, overlooking Mount Saint Victoire in Aix-en-Provence, and watching or reading the classics: Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard etc. I often find new absurd plays to be beside the point.

Yes, Atheism exists. Yes, our lives could be completely random, ordered only by human and natural forces with no ulterior motives to influence us from a higher plane. In fact, Heaven and Hell could just be stories people have made up and told each other because the alternative, that we are just animals like any others, without prospects for life-after-death, is too painful to accept. Worse still, if it’s true we have no excuse for what we are doing to the planet and no right to mess things up for other animals because our rights are not superior to theirs.

[Start of impassioned rant.]

In fact, opposing comforting religious beliefs might be the best thing we could do for the Earth and it’s non-human residents, but only if we linked this movement to a feeling of dire personal responsibility: No excuses, no afterlife, no divine intervention when things go too far — just a moral obligation to correct our wrongs ourselves, to forgive each other, to make the world a cleaner, more peaceful place because this world is all we have.

[End of impassioned rant.]

In writing, L’Apocalypse à Kamloops, Stephan Cloutier sidesteps the trap of derivative absurdism by looking at the incongruities of modern life within a framework that postulates a higher power. For him, angels are beings much like humans with vanities and frailties similar to our own, who struggle to influence peoples’ decisions within a scientifically sound universe that includes life on other planets. Contemporary French Canadians are not adrift in an absurdist, godless universe, but they must still face facts: Our short lifespans are dwarfed by eternity and the vastness of the (possibly multiple) universe(s). It’s cleverly updated absurdism for our multifaith, scientifically sophisticated times and I found it very funny indeed.

Truth and Reconciliation

Guy Mignault, in discussion with the audience after the preview, made an interesting point. He said that in theatre, by playing different roles, you are able to understand how people can do terrible things. He gives the example of a father locking his daughter up in a nunnery, a practice common enough in Molière’s day but which we would consider a violation of human rights.

Could we, by putting ourselves into the shoes of those who commit evil acts, prevent them from reoccurring? Can forgiveness and understanding heal the perpetrators as well as the victims? It’s a question that returns to me as I have recently finished reading Country of my Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa by Antjie Krog. It’s such a hard, poetic, factual book. It made me cry in public places, losing and gaining faith in humanity by turns. Anyone interested in ant-racist anything should read it. I just find it impossible to review Krog’s work in an objective way.

Krog is able to depict the stress-induced illnesses and daily horror experienced by those serving or reporting on South African Truth and Reconciliation because she was there. Her writing is up to the task, as is her analysis but her experiences nearly break her, and many her fellow journalists. Rending, painful, necessary. Who needs fiction?

Hooray! My computer is all better…

My motherboard died but thanks to my charming husband and the local computer repair shop, I can print, email and surf again. Thank goodness! I’ve been looking forward to chomping my electronic Wheaties.

On today’s menu: recommendations so good for you, they count as an extra dose of fibre.

Now reading:

Country of my Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa by Antjie Krog.

This is emotional stuff, about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. For more info see

“Eulalie and the Great March” by Flora Stohr-Danziger. Actually, I’m rereading the play and breaking it down moment by moment to prepare for my first ‘table’ readings with actors this Wednesday and Sunday.

Currently listening to:

CBC’s Quirks and Quarks and Ideas, both as podcasts. CBC has a listing of podcasts which include ‘best of’ versions of some of its most interesting programs. I love the CBC so I won’t pretend this plug is unbiased, just unpaid.

South Africa & MFA

Currently reading:

  • Freedom Rising: Life Under Apartheid Through the Eyes of an American on a Four-Year Clandestine Journey Through Southern Africa, James North
  • Living Under Apartheid, David M. Smith ed.

  • The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, The New York Writers Workshop

I doubt I will be reviewing these books. I’m researching the Black Sash movement in South Africa, Apartheid in general and Eulalie Stott in particular. Any reading suggestions are appreciated, particularly internet links to primary sources.

You may find this article from 1959 on the Black Sash interesting. Click “ok” through the error messages then click on “article” to see it.

Living conditions and housing for Black South Africans remains problematic. Today the Black Sash has switched its focus from protesting human rights violations and the pass laws to bettering peoples’ living conditions. Eulalie Stott is still alive and still involved.

There are uncomfortable parallels between the post-Apartheid situation in South Africa and the First Nations situation in Canada. Canada has outlawed the residential schools and South Africa has done away with pass laws to prevent people of colour from settling and moving freely. Both societies still have far to go.

Our laws have become more liberal but Canadians and South Africans are still in conflict over land ownership and the rights of indiginous peoples, displaced by white settlement .

Happy reading?