Ottawa

Play at National Arts Centre about Montreal Massacre resonates with Paris attacks

The burden of survivor guilt is at the heart of a new production of The December Man which opens Thursday at the National Arts Centre.

'I think we're awash in both the implications of Friday's event'

Scene from 'The December Man' at the National Arts Centre

7 years ago
Duration 0:19
'The December Man' is a play about the emotional aftermath of the shootings at École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6,1989, that addresses themes that resonant with recent Paris Attack.

The burden of survivor guilt is at the heart of a new production of The December Man which opens Thursday at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

The December Man is Colleen Murphy's play about the shooting of 14 young female engineering students that took place at Montreal's École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989.

Kayvon Kelly, Kate Henning and Paul Rainville in a scene from The December Man, a play about a family's struggle to deal with the emotional aftermath of the shooting at École Polytechnique. (Sandra Abma/CBC)
Murphy's play, which won the Governor General's Literary Prize, is the story of a fictional student, a young man who was in the room during the shooting with mass murderer Marc Lépine and survived.

"The son who was separated from his classmates with all the other males, while the women were kept and then slaughtered and we delve into what happens to a family when it's under that kind of intense stress," said Ottawa actor Paul Rainville, who plays the young man's father.

Paris attacks familiar shock and sadness

The actors began rehearsals for The December Man before 129 people were killed in Paris, 89 of whom were mostly young people enjoying a rock concert at the Bataclan Theatre. 

When the news broke the company was struck with the same shock and sadness from the events of 26 years ago.

"I think we're awash in both the implications of Friday's event, and the memory of the events of Dec. 6, 1989, that double whammy," said the play's director Sarah Garton Stanley.

"The December Man' Director Sarah Garton Stanley

7 years ago
Duration 0:39
Sarah Garton Stanley talks about how of the recent Paris terror attack changed how she views the play 'The December Man'

The burden of survivor guilt is at the heart of The December Man, but it is also a tale of forgiveness and the endurance of human spirit in spite of the lasting wounds that are inflicted on everyone connected with horrific tragedy.

The December Man opens Thursday in the studio of the NAC and runs until Nov. 28.

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