History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Early Canadian 21st
Canadian playwriting of the early 21st century is marked with "Avec Norm" (With Norm, 2004) by Serge Boucher (1963-?) concerning a mental deficient whose maladapted condition deteriorates to the dismay of his social worker.
Time: 2000s. Place: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
"With Norm" text at ?
At his apartment, Norman, a 30-year-old mentally handicapped man liable to seizures, receives a visit from Frank, a social worker in charge of following his progress. Norm informs him he has a new friend, whom has calls "Batman" while he plays the role of his sidekick, "Robin". In turn, Frank informs Norm that he is on the short list of obtaining a supervised apartment, at which Norm makes no comment. When Frank asks him whether he has taken his medication and has received rent-money from his sister, Nancy, he is too distracted to answer. Despite his handicaps, Norm is in the habit of helping her out with various chores a neighbor living in his apartment building, Tonie, a 60-year-old woman afflicted with right-sided hemiplegia. Tonie has a nasty temper. She is angry when Norm brings over French fries instead of mashed potatoes, easier for her to digest. Nancy receives the happy news that she is pregnant and insists on informing their parents by telephoning them during day-time hours despite the higher cost than at night. Yet she now has second thoughts about paying for her brother's apartment. She would like him to move to a smaller one. Norm disagrees, preferring, as he tells Frank, to remain in the present one because otherwise he has no place to store various pieces of furniture that belongs to him. With Batman's help, Norm buys a present for his father's birthday: a pin-up calendar of naked women. Frank is dubious about this choice, but Norm merely giggles. To reduce expenses, Batman agrees to move in with him and pay half the rent, but this does not satisfy Nancy. At Christmas-time, Frank and Norm help Tonie out by carrying her groceries, mostly canned foods such as baked beans. Norm points out that beans make people fart and that his father is a good farter. He adds that he, too, enjoys farting. Undeterred by such silly comments, Frank gives Norm a shirt and sweater as a Christmas-gift and gives Tonie a series of assorted body lotions. Frank discovers that Batman is in the habit of asking Norm to take out his penis and masturbate while they watch pornographic films together. Although Frank is concerned about this sort of behavior, Norm merely giggles again. Frank is also concerned about Norm's hygiene. Soon to marry, Nancy promises Norm and Tonie that she will wave to them while driving by on the way to the wedding. When the supervised apartment becomes available, Frank tries to convince Norm that he should accept the offer, especially after discovering he has left stinking meat inside a refrigerator that no longer works, but Norm declines again. If he moves away, his father has sworn he would never visit him again, because he likes to sit on his son's balcony to watch Olympic Stadium at a distance, and so does he, especially at night. Norm is so upset at the thought of leaving his apartment that he falls into convulsions. Later he discovers that his roommate has left. Often short on cash, Norm quarrels with Nancy about her wanting to enter his room to look for some. Frustrated because of her own financial troubles, she punches him. In response, he throws a chair at her. At Tonie's apartment while they listen to music, she proposes to show her breasts while he shows his penis. He agrees, but they are interrupted by a knock on the door: Batman has returned. Despite his friend's arrival, Norm gets into deeper financial trouble when he misunderstands an offer to call for personal advice over a long distance telephone call and is thereby forced to pay a large sum of money. After explaining this matter to Frank, he becomes easily distracted as the social worker renders yet more advice, looking for a newspaper item to change the subject. Despairing that Norm's situation will ever improve, Frank leaves without a word.
Also of importance in Canadian drama: "Laurier-Station : 1,000 répliques pour dire je t'aime" (Laurier-Station: 1,000 replies to say I love you, 2011) by Isabelle Hubert (1970-?).
"Laurier-Station: 1,000 replies to say I love you"
Time: 2010s. Place: Laurier-Station, Quebec, Canada.
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With two children to raise, Nathalie and Martin decide not to have any more. As they prepare to go to the clinic for Martin's vasectomy, he changes his mind. Incensed at this about-face, she decides without informing him to visit her aunt along with her younger sister, Anne-Sophie. Because of a major snow-storm, they are forced to stop on their way to Toronto at a motel in Laurier-Station, where they are welcomed by the owner, Carolanne, and her 15-year old daughter, Cassidy, in charge of the care-taking. Carolanne informs her clients that in one of the rooms there is a party attended by a group of hockey players. With great difficulty, Nathalie convinces Anne-Sophie to go with her. Alone in her room and against her sister's wishes, Anne-Sophie calls up Martin to inform him of where they are. The two sisters soon return to their room, because Anne-Sophie is sick. Nathalie is surprised on learning from Carolanne that Cassidy is pregnant. Cassidy tells them that the hockey players want the women back to play "Spin the bottle". After mother and daughter leave the room, Anne-Sophie shows her sister their mother's letters throughout the years, mostly recriminations based on half-truths against diverse companies. Nathalie is upset on learning that only Anne-Sophie, her favorite, received a letter from her before she died. She is even more upset on learning from Martin on the telephone that her sister told him where they are. She joins the party but returns with a panic-stricken Cassidy whose face is covered with blood, struck several times by her mother after being told she got an abortion. A contrite and sorrowful Carolanne pleads with Cassidy to come home. Cassidy accepts. After borrowing a vehicle from a friend, Martin arrives to take his wife and her sister back home. Nathalie's pain is considerably lessened on discovering that her mother left her a box filled with objects of sentimental value. As Carolanne prepares to head for home, Cassidy secretly calls up her father to take her away.
Dale Lakevold and Darrell Racine
A facet in the experience of the Métis people, a mixture of French and Indian Canadian, is covered in “Stretching hide” (2007) by Dale Lakevold (?-?) and Darrell Racine (?-?).
Time: 2000s. Place: Near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
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Alfred Ducharme, a successful businessman, illegally shoots a deer on the property of his son, Frank, an event witnessed by his other son, Marten, a mentally defective 28-year-old unaware of who his father is, the progeny of Alfred’s previous infatuation with a 13-year-old non-Métis girl named Sandy. Alfred shot the deer only to collect the antlers, leaving the meat behind. Another man is liable to pick up meat for his own use and his family’s: Eugene Poitras, whose wife, Marie, provides Marten with chicken feed, a man who makes a living raising chickens to sell their meat, only his chicken coop has been invaded by a large mink. Marten expects to buy a gun from Eugene once he obtains money by setting a trap for the mink and selling the fur. In view of a past accident when her son used a gun, Sandy tries to discourage him from obtaining one, but he wants to hunt, a project Frank has promised to help him with. After obtaining his law degree, Frank intends on attending to legal matters concerning Métis people and live with his non-Métis girlfriend, Clara. He is particularly intent on preparing papers so that his father can obtain an award for his service to the Métis community. Eugene offers him deer meat which he accepts to buy at the moment when Marie informs them that game wardens have discovered the deer left by Alfred on Frank’s land and intend finding out who killed it, no one else in the community knowing who. Frank worries about being arrested for poaching and thereby lose his lawyer’s license, and so is Eugene, who calls up his children to burn the deer meat he himself poached or hide it in the back bedroom. To deviate attention of himself and his son, Alfred calls up a game warden to say that they should check up on Eugene, who is called in for questioning. Before going over to the game wardens, Eugene considers hiring Frank as his lawyer, but instead the two argue about who killed the deer. Eugene remarks that Frank owns a .30 caliber rifle concordant with the one that killed the deer. While trying to trap the mink, Marten accidently catches his thumb inside the trap and yells in pain until Clara presses the button to release it and then covers the bloody wound by ripping part of his only piece of underwear. When Alfred announces to Sandy and Marie about his phone call to Natural Resources, he recommends that both be wary about opposing his view of the matter. “Don’t you forget who owns most of the land around here,” he says. “And if you own the land- goddammit!- you own the people. Nobody works up here unless I say so.” He offers Marten a new axe and, after the lad enthusiastically goes out to his truck, warns Sandy that her son can be taken away to an institution unless she cooperates. An angry Sandy tells Marie that she intends to disrupt Frank’s relation with Clara in view of the fact that Alfred’s son will eventually take over the community. There is already trouble because while Frank wants to build a house on his land, Clara wants to buy a house in town and persuade him to return the land to his father. In turn, Alfred tries to persuade his son to abandon the law practice and continue his work as a businessman. “I’m leaving everything for you,” he declares. After clearing himself of the wardens’ suspicions, Eugene rejoices to find Marten with the dead mink, so that the lad can now buy the gun for him. He also promises to improve Marten’s shack by installing an electrical system along with insulation to keep it warmer. Seeing Clara pack up to move back to town, Frank reveals his intention to return the land to his father, give up his law practice, and move far away. As Clara prepares to leave, Sandy and Marie walk in. Sandy is happy to see her go; Marie insists that Sandy disclose the condition of Frank’s birth, that Frank and Marten are half-brothers. Marie states that Frank needs someone like Clara to distance himself from his father and yet remain here. Alfred enters with Frank’s gun, having caught Marten in illegal possession of it and threatening to denounce him to the police. Marten says that he was heading towards the game wardens and confess that he shot the deer to protect Frank, but when Marie asks him where he obtained the shells and where are the horns, he is dumb with confusion. Frank tells him he only obtained then gun after the deer was shot, so that Marten now admits that his intention was to protect Alfred, whom he knows to be his father from the remark of an acquaintance of his. Frank is stunned and Alfred in a bind, knowing that Eugene directed the wardens’ attention to him. All Marten needs to do is stretch the mink's hide.
First produced in 1980 in the manner of the Boulevard comedy of France, “Les voisins“ (The neighbors, 2001) was slightly modernized by Claude Meunier (1951- ?) and Louis Saia (1950- ?).
Time: 2000s. Place: Suburban Quebec, Canada
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While Bernard clips the hedges on his lawn, his neighbor, George, shows up, though with no particular reason. Bernard finds a frisbee in a part of his hedge and threatens to hang whoever left it there when another neighbor, Fern, recently moved in the neighborhood, shows up shortly after, admitting that the frisbee is his. Bernard mentions his recent trip to France and invites George and his wife, Laurette, over to his house to see the slides. Fern invites himself over, though this proposition is received coldly by Bernard and his wife, Jeanine, because Fern’s wife, Luce, falsely intimated that she never wears summer shorts because of her varicose veins. Irritated to see their daughter, Suzy, drinking milk directly from the carton, Jeanine pulls at her wrist and spills the contents. Jeanine is irritated at the teenager’s impolite way of speaking. Over at his house, a cheerful George finds a tearful Laurette, fed up with preparing meals and washing dishes. “You have money, a good husband,” George reminds her, “you are two minutes away from the supermarket: what else do you want?” She is bored and though 38 years old, feels as if she were 65. Their talk is interrupted by the voice of their son. Junior, over the intercom, who has successfully connected the system. George tells Junior that his wife wants him to talk to her more often. “Poor you! What can you talk to her about?” Junior wonders. Although trying to hide her face behind a huge bottle of ketchup, Jeanine is forced to acknowledge Luce at the supermarket. Luce hopes that Jeanine was not irritated by her talk of varicose veins the other day. Jeanine pretends to have no memory of it, but is irritated all over again when Luce mentions that her thighs may have been softened by these. Laurette when she shares a moment with her husband as their hair is dried at the hairdresser. At Bernard’s house, Suzy catches her father drinking milk directly from the carton, who pretends that the carton is nearly empty, while, at George’s house, Junior informs his father that he would like to move over to the washing room next to the garage. George accepts his suggestion and, as a dental technician, is happy to learn that his son intends to study dentistry next year at college. Junior also mentions that he has his eye on a girl and asks him what can he talk to a girl about. George is nonplussed at the question. “I don’t know if I feel like it,” Laurette tells her husband concerning whether they should spend the evening at Bernard’s house, feeling especially uncomfortable about the possible presence of Fern and Luce. George calls up Bernard to find out whether the other couple will be present, but he does not know. She only accepts after Jeanine says at Bernard’s suggestion that they will be absent. That evening, while Bernard shows George his new wall thermostat, Jeanine shows Laurette her new kitchen walls. To Bernard’s disappointment, George has the same one. Suzy shows up and is disappointed at having received no telephone call. Jeanine is still irritated at the teenager’s impolite language. The doorbell rings. Thinking that it is Fern and Luce showing up after all, Laurette gets up to leave immediately, but it is only Junior bringing back the car keys after borrowing the car. Since Suzy wants to go over to see a friend, George hands the keys back to his son to drive her over. The slide-show starts with views of their passports, the plane, a large closed-up of Bernard’s face, and the Seine. Bernard points out the Seine’s dirty appearance. “It’s pretty much old water,” Bernard points out. “It dates from the Middle Ages.” The slide-show continues with a view of an ordinary European man, the Eiffel tower, the third wonder of the world according to Bernard, the bidet in their hotel room, a croissant, a large closed-up of Jeanine’s smiling face, and the Triumphal Arch, whose underside was built by the unknown soldier according to Bernard, ending with the view of a cow, resembling a Canadian one, Laurette thinks. She panics on hearing Fern and Luce show up after all, but finally settles down. Despite Fern’s heart problems at 36 years of age, he asks for a double gin. “Anyway, don’t complain if you find yourself dead one fine morning,” Luce warns. While they talk, Fern yawns in boredom so that Jeanine proposes a game of charades. It is Fern’s turn to mimic a word when he starts to have chest pains. The others try to guess the word until he hunches over and falls in even greater pain. “What’s the number of 911 again?” a panicky Bernard asks. To save time for the ambulance workers, Bernard and George carry Fern outside, which does not prevent George from eating a large load of sandwiches on his return. The teenagers return with bad news. A tipsy Junior destroyed a side of his hedge, news that upsets Bernard worse than witnessing the heart attack ever did.