March to June 2011 |  Introducing Colleen Murphy

THE DECEMBER MAN / L'HOMME DE DECEMBRE

by Colleen Murphy

 
Sundays and Mondays, 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 March 2011

The European premiere of the winner of Canada’s most prestigious literary award – the Governor General's Literary Award for English Language Drama.

Part of 'Introducing Colleen Murphy', a mini-season within a season as part of “In Their Place” – a three month season of work by women playwrights

On 6 December 1989, a young man, 25-year-old Marc Lépine entered a college classroom at the The École Polytechnique, Montréal, Canada, carrying a gun. He separated the male and female students and claiming that he was "fighting feminism", shot all nine women in the room, killing six. He then moved through corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, specifically targeting women to shoot. Overall, he killed fourteen women and injured ten other women and four men in just under twenty minutes before turning the gun on himself…

Jean, a promising young student, survives the attack, but is crippled by guilt. Struggling to survive the aftermath, Benoît and Kathleen do everything they can to help their beloved son cope with guilt and rage...but Jean's young life becomes unglued. Using humour and the humdrum of everyday life, the play intuitively moves backwards in time to the fateful day when Jean, the only ray of hope in this working class family, escaped the massacre...or thought he did. This searing drama on courage, heroism and despair explores the long private shadows that public violence casts.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Playwright Colleen Murphy was born in Quebec and grew up in Northern Ontario. The December Man (L’homme de décembre), won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, the CAA/Carol Bolt Award for Drama and the 2006 Enbridge playRites Award. The play premiered in February 2007 at Alberta Theatre Projects as part of their Festival of New Canadian Plays. It has also been seen at The Citadel, Edmonton, and at The Canadian Stage Company, Toronto, and translated into French and German. Her other plays include Beating Heart Cadaver (nominated for a 1999 Governor General’s Literary Award), The Piper, Down in Adoration Falling and All Other Destinations are Cancelled. In 2008, Murphy was shortlisted for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. She is currently working on Deliver Me (National Arts Centre), Armstrong's War (Banff Centre) and The Birthday Boy (Shaw Festival). She has twice won awards in the CBC Literary Competition. Colleen’s distinct, award-winning films have played in festivals around the world and include Out in the Cold, Girl with Dog, War Holes, Desire, Shoemaker, The Feeler and Putty Worm. Two of her plays have been seen as staged readings at the Finborough Theatre – The December Man (L’homme de décembre) in the first Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights in 2009, and Beating Heart Cadaver in 2010’s Vibrant – An Anniversary Festival of Finborough Playwrights.

ABOUT THE ACTORS

Michael Benz’s many credits include What We Are Up Against (Old Red Lion), Hay Fever (West Yorkshire Playhouse), You May Go Now – A Marriage Play (Finborough Theatre), As You Like It (Shakespeare’s Globe) and the UK tour of Romeo and Juliet (Royal Shakespeare Company)

Linda Broughton’s credits include A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Nottingham Playhouse), 2nd May 1997 (Bush Theatre), Ivanov and The Chalk Garden (both at the Donmar Warehouse), and TV credits including Doctors, Silent Witness and Casualty

Matthew Hendrickson whose recent credits include The Full Monty (English Theatre Frankfurt), Speed The Plow (Winchester Theatre Royal), Out of Order (Vienna’s English Theatre) Salsa Saved The Girls (Old Red Lion) and The Freedom of The City (Finborough Theatre)

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Canadian director Lavinia Hollands, co-founder of Constructive Interference Theatre Company, directed its first production, a premiere of Euler's Circles at the Brockley Jack Theatre in 2010. Her previous productions include writing and directing Adjusting Water Features (Rosemary Branch), The Woolgatherer (Vancouver) and rehearsed readings at Theatre503, The New Diorama Theatre and Tristan Bates Theatre. Assistant Direction includes Moon Fool at Trestle Arts Base, First Assistant Director for film maker Angelo Valentino and assisting under director, Tom Bentley-Fisher in San Francisco.

THE PRESS ON THE DECEMBER MAN / L'HOMME DE DECEMBRE

The December Man/L'homme de décembre is a tragedy in which the humanity of the characters gives the play a surprising buoyancy. Heartbreaking yet never sentimental, spare yet complex, with a flawless structure, this is a brave and important play." Jury Citation for the Governor General’s Award

“Colleen Murphy's superb study of how the ripple effect of an awful event can destroy families far beyond the inner circle of victims…heartbreaking” Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun

“It is perhaps fitting that Murphy has chosen to tell her story of lives turned upside down by throwing her tale into reverse, beginning it with a tragic ending and ending it with the tragedy's beginning – at the very moment happiness ended. …From there, Murphy takes us back in increments of time, with each stop along the way providing us an opportunity to scrape away more scar tissue and examine the exact nature of the wounds that have been slowly eating away their souls. … this extraordinary work.” John Colbourne, The Toronto Sun

“Colleen Murphy's The December Man is a play prompted by the 1989 Montreal Massacre. It invents a story peripheral to the main event and tells it backwards. That may sound doubly, if not triply, perverse. In fact the choices turn out to be inspired and the execution, by both the author and her interpreters, virtually flawless….There could be many other ways of dramatizing that one horrific December day, but it's hard to believe that there could be one more effective.” Robert Cushman, The National Post

THE PRESS ON THE FINBOROUGH PRODUCTION

“The unfunded Finborough theatre does terrific service to plays and playwrights, young and old, with its rediscoveries and productions of new work. Accolades and awards rain down. And long may this continue in the capable, caring and imaginative hands of artistic director Neil McPherson”  Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide
 
“Wanting to commemorate the horrifically tragic events of a massacre at the École Polytechnique in Montréal on December 6, 1989 where a gunman killed fourteen women for being ‘feminists’ but not be guilty of exploiting it, Murphy shifts her focus onto what might have happened to those that survived the attack and the ongoing consequences it has on their lives.” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“Powerfully persuasive performances from all three actors “Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“Matthew Hendrickson’s grizzled father, weighted down by a lifetime of frustration yet fiercely proud of his son and Linda Broughton’s suffocatingly well-intentioned mother, clinging onto childhood memories of her family, both did excellent work, pulling us in straightaway with the hardest of opening scenes but also playing the lighter side of the family dynamic well too, bursting with pride at their first university-going relation. “Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“Michael Benz also impressed as the introverted Jean, emotionally damaged by his inaction and the subsequent inability to deal with the fallout whilst sequestered in his tightly repressed family unit.” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“It is very well-acted with some really moving moments within, and forms the first part of what I am sure will be an interesting journey through this playwright’s work over the next few months.”  Ian Foster, The Public Reviews  

TICKETS AND TIMES

Sundays and Mondays, 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 March 2011

Evenings at 7.30pm.

Tickets £13, £9 concessions

PLEASE NOTE THAT LATECOMERS CANNOT BE ADMITTED AND TICKETS CANNOT BE EXCHANGED OR REFUNDED.

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Written by Colleen Murphy

Directed by Lavinia Hollands

Designed by Olivia Altaras

Lighting by Chris Withers

Costume Design by Geri Spencer

Sound by Edward Lewis

Presented by Constructive Interference Theatre Company in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre

 

MICHAEL BENZ

LINDA BROUGHTON

MATTHEW HENDRICKSON