Carmen Aguirre's favourite Canadian plays

Carmen Aguirre told Shelagh Rogers that she's read more than 100 memoirs in the past few years. But as a theatre artist, she's also passionate about plays. So when we asked Carmen to share a list of her favourite reads, she chose these 10 great Canadian plays.

The Tale of Teeka by Michel Marc Bouchard


In rural Quebec in the 1950s, a young child, Maurice, finds solace in creating a fictional fantasy world shared with only his beloved pet goose. Originally staged in French, The Tale of Teeka has been staged in several languages and around the world, including in Dublin, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Limoges (France), London (England) and Mexico City.

Carmen says: "Devastating, achingly beautiful, simple, clear, direct, it seamlessly marries content and form to tell a story of child abuse in 1950s rural Quebec."

The Weekend Healer by Bryden MacDonald


Lindalou's relationship with her mother is a troubled one. When she heads home to Cape Breton for the first time in five years, they face their biggest challenge yet: Lindalou's 16-year-old son Curtis goes missing. The result is a touching examination of the nature of family, and what it means to be a parent.

Carmen says: "Brave, fierce, unrelenting examination of mother/daughter/son relationships in a working-class Cape Breton family."

The Unnatural and Accidental Women by Marie Clements


There are many unsolved and mysterious murders in Vancouver's Skid Row. Most of the victims were aboriginal women and most of them were found with blood-alcohol content at dangerous levels. With the deaths of these women often categorized as "unnatural and accidental," Marie Clements explores their lives, honouring and memorializing those that are too often forgotten and ignored.

Carmen says: "Ambitious, strong, engaging, moving, unflinching, sometimes funny story based on the real deaths of several indigenous women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside."

Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth by Drew Hayden Taylor


Grace, an Aboriginal woman adopted by a white family, is struggling to come to terms with her birth family after being asked to return to the reserve for her birth mother's funeral. Drew Hayden Taylor presents his classic combination of humour and heart in this touching story about clashing cultures and identity.

Carmen says: "Moving, powerful, hilarious family drama about a young native woman who has been raised by a white family."

Blood Claat by d'bi young


Mudgu is a normal 15-year-old girl growing up in Kingston, Jamaica. But her days spent playing netball and dancing the night away collide with a world filled with violence and poverty in d'bi young's Blood Claat, resulting in an examination of what it means to be young, vulnerable and female in a dangerous neighbourhood.

Carmen says: "Fierce, funny, strong, highly personal one-woman show about several generations of women in Jamaica. Simple, superior storytelling."

Leo by Rosa Laborde


When three young friends form a complicated love triangle, they learn how to love, lose and grow up. Leo gives voice to those who "disappeared" during Augusto Pinochet's regime in Chile and portrays a passionate story that combines both personal and political chaos and uncertainty.

Carmen says: "A harrowing, humorous, sensual coming-of-age tale set during the 1973 coup in Chile."

A Suicide-Site Guide to the City by Darren O'Donnell

social-75.jpgA Suicide-Site Guide to the City is not so much a play as it is an interactive chat about memory and depression. As the performative piece from O'Donnell's Social Acupuncture, this play explore the unexpected moments that emerge from an unplanned social interaction.

Carmen says: "Unapologetic, unabashedly honest, an intensely personal one-man show about despair, lust and loneliness. A superb marriage of form and style."

Fronteras Americanas by Guillermo Verdecchia


This play is about geography, identity and the challenges of being a "hyphenated Canadian." An intensely personal monologue that explores the author's own journey to his native land of Argentina, Fronteras Americanas won the 1993 Governor General's Award for Drama.

Carmen says: "Inspiring, moving, personal one-man show about identity, culture clash and Latino stereotypes set in small town Ontario, Toronto, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Paris."

Confessions of an Indian Cowboy by Margo Kane

Confessions of an Indian Cowboy is a probing and endearing one-woman musical that looks at the history of contact between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and shares the stories of the Indian and Métis, peoples of mixed heritage who have been pushed aside and ignored for well over a century.

Carmen says: "Set in rural Canada, this energetic, hilarious, direct, masterfully performed one-woman show examines the integration of two cultures into one nation."

The December Man by Colleen Murphy


Murphy's hard-hitting play revisits the Montreal Massacre, and its devastating impact on people even outside the circle of victims. Benoit and Kathleen Fournier's teenage son, Jean, was in the classroom where Marc Lépine began his murderous rampage, and he's tormented by survivor's guilt.

Carmen says: "A searing, moving, unflinching examination of the effects of the École Polytechnique killings on a working-class Montreal family."

Carmen Aguirre will be performing her one-woman show Blue Box, which is based on Something Fierce, in locations across Canada. To find a performance near you or for more information about the play, visit the Great Canadian Theatre Company website.


Carmen Aguirre is an actor, author and playwright. Her memoir, Something Fierce, chronicles Carmen's coming of age while taking part in an underground resistance movement battling the regime of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile.  Something Fierce will be defended by musician Shad in the Canada Reads 2012 debates. The debates will air at 11 a.m. (11:30 a.m. in Nfld.) on CBC Radio One and will be livestreamed on CBC Books at 10 a.m. ET on February 6,7, 8 and 9.

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