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12th Annual Gift-A-Play – Details

A Christmas Carol – Keyano Theatre Company
Photo Credits

Welcome to the Gift-A-Play wish list details page!

Below are the titles that we’d love to add to the Theatre Alberta Library this year. Have a look, and if you see something you’d like to help us purchase head over to our Canada Helps donation page, choose the item from the list, and purchase your ticket! 

The 2023 Annual Tom Hendry Playwright Awards: Shortlisted Play Bundle

Playwrights' Guild of Canada / Canadian Play Outlet ($50)

This collection contains plays shortlisted for the 2023 Tom Hendry Awards. The Tom Hendry Awards, named for a beloved founding member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada took place online on Sunday, October 29 at 7PM EDT.

Shorelines

Mishka Lavigne

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)

A non-linear poetic play that acts like a postcard from the future, Shorelines is about family and community in a world ravaged by climate change. It also speaks to the inevitable inequality of disaster response and how poorer communities are disproportionately affected by it. Mishka Lavigne’s message within her lyrical piece is urgent and multi-dimensional: it is a reminder that all things are connected and hope can only lie in the relationships we form with the people around us.

Queen Goneril

Erin Shields

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)

Whip smart and wide awake, Queen Goneril is another deliciously disruptive adaptation from Erin Shields. In her signature revisionist style, Shields investigates some of our most urgent feminist issues by reimagining the roles of women in classic texts—shifting them from subjects, objects, or witnesses to central figures of both their own lives and the story’s narrative. Queen Goneril lays bare the challenges of maintaining authenticity while achieving authority—how we retain a strong sense of self while twisting around systems meant to make us play small. A compelling story about complicated characters struggling—the way we all struggle—to find their place in this world

21 Black Futures: The Anthology

Obsidian Theatre

Playwrights Canada Press ($50)

What is the future of Blackness? Obsidian Theatre presents twenty-one versions of it. In 2021, Obsidian Theatre engaged twenty-one writers to create twenty-one new stories about imagined Black futures. Twenty-one to celebrate Obsidian’s twenty-first anniversary in 2021. Each playwright was tasked with scripting a ten-minute monodrama in response to the question “What is the future of Blackness?” To counter the intense early-pandemic isolation and the trauma of witnessing heightened violence toward Black bodies, Obsidian’s goal was to give as many opportunities to as many diverse Black artists as possible and to bring new voices together from both theatre and film. It was a grand experiment to create a rich tapestry of possibilities and to uplift Black artists in the process.

The Master Plan

Michael Healey

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)​

In 2017, when the public agency Waterfront Toronto decided to put up a parcel of land for development, Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s Alphabet Inc., swept in with a proposal to create the city of the future. Waterfront Toronto jumped at the opportunity to advance housing sustainability and affordability by exploring Alphabet’s innovative technology and data-driven techniques. But the project quickly started to fall apart from uneasy partnerships, sclerotic local politics, and an overwhelmingly negative public response.

In this biting comedy about the failure to build a smart city in Toronto, Michael Healey lampoons the corporate drama, epic personalities, and iconic Canadian figures involved in the messy affair between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto. Based on the bestselling exposé, Sideways: The City Google Couldn’t Buy by Josh O’Kane, The Master Plan exposes the hubris of big tech, the feebleness of government, and the dangers of public consultation with sharp wit and insightful commentary.

Half Cracked: The Legend of Sissy Mary

Mary-Colin Chisholm

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)​

Sisters Sissy and Yewina have been on their own for who knows how long exactly. Itís just them (and their hens) in a weathered farmhouse miles from town. Their rural, woodsy East Coast community has been losing residents for years, but the almost-forgotten stories have lived on for the sisters in different ways. While Yewina is more guarded and level-headed, dreamer Sissy has a flair for twisting fact with fantasy. When Scott, a folklorist from Scottsdale, Arizona, shows up at their door in hopes of chronicling whispers, he’s in for much more of a story than he expected. This unique and quirky ode to folklore storytelling and to small lives lived large illuminates how living our own truths can make us legends.

From the Ashes: Six Solo Plays

Ed. Shauntay Grant

Playwrights Canada Press ($35)​

From the Ashes collects solo plays by Black Canadian women and womxn that together celebrate the hope, humour, and healing that can come after devastation and loss. From lighthearted comedies to heavy dramas, this anthology contains a multitude of stories on Blackness, love, motherhood, sexuality, trauma, racism, mythology, and more.

After the Fire & The Particulars

Matthew MacKenzie

Playwrights Canada Press ($22)​​

From the author of Bears comes two dark comedies that expose what we’re capable of when pushed to our breaking point and give in to the temptation of taking matters into our own hands.

Set in the aftermath of the disaster that nearly destroyed Fort McMurray in 2016, After the Fire centres around two couples whose lives have been deeply affected by the ruin. Sisters Laura and Carmell have been channelling their devastation into their daughters’ hockey team, as their Indigenous husbands Barry and Ty grapple with their own demons while digging a very big hole.

In The Particulars, a week’s worth of daily routines for an insomniac is disrupted by a mysterious home invasion. Gordon battles his invaders on two fronts—in his home, where he believes he is dealing with vermin, and in his yard, where insects have taken over his garden. By day, Gordon forges ahead, in control of every aspect of his life. But by night, the scratching he hears in his walls is unravelling him, driving him to the edge of cosmic desperation.

With sharp commentary, Matthew MacKenzie revels in the mundane struggles that disguise the cosmically profound surrounding us all.

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William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, A Radical Retelling

Cliff Cardinal

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)​

The title of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It holds a double meaning that teasingly suggests the play can please all tastes. But is that possible? With his subversive updating of the Bard’s classic, Indigenous creator and cultural provocateur Cliff Cardinal seeks to find out. The show exults in bawdy humour, difficult subject matter, and raw emotion; Cardinal is not one to hold back when it comes to challenging delicate sensibilities.

Retreating to Re-Treat: A Performative Encounter at the “Edge of the Woods”

The Collective Encounter with Jill Carter

Playwrights Canada Press ($22)​

In 2019, a group of scholar-artists led by Jill Carter stood with their audience in a liminal space at the ‘edge of the woods’—a space between now and then, a space between now and later. Together, they engaged in a survivance intervention: an Indigenous reclamation of territory, using Storyweaving practices rooted in personal connections to the land as a method of restor(y)ing treaty relationships.

Retreating to Re-Treat documents both their artistic offering and creation process, offered in the spirit of knowledge-sharing and enriching scholarship around collaborative practices. By revealing their unique and still-developing method for addressing a fraught and tangled (hi)story, the Collective Encounter invites readers to join them as we mediate those sites of profound experiences and renewal—sites in which the project of conciliation might truly begin.

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There is Violence and There is Righteous Violence and There is Death; or The Born-Again Crow

Caleigh Crow

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)​

This sly chamber piece from new voice Caleigh Crow turns post-capitalism ennui on its head with a righteous fury. It unearths the subtle (and not so subtle) ways we gaslight the marginalized, especially Indigenous women, people living with mental-health afflictions, and anyone struggling to make ends meet in low-income service jobs. There Is Violence captures the vivacity and humour of one truly remarkable woman not meant for this earth, and brings her to her own glorious transcendence.   

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Staging Coyote’s Dream, Volume 3

Eds. Monique Mojica & Lindsay Lachance

Playwrights Canada Press ($35)

On the twentieth anniversary of its first volume, Staging Coyote’s Dream Volume 3 is a curated collection of new works rooted in Indigenous values, aesthetics, and narrative structures. An anthology that identifies and highlights a vast array of anti-colonial performing arts processes, including reclamation, embodiment, and community-engaged work—to name only a few—Mojica and Lachance gather the works of artists leading these practices to not only honour how their plays are expanding dramaturgy, but to build Indigenous performance literacies for all practitioners creating on Turtle Island.

Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and The Making of Race

Noémie Ndiaye

University of Pennsylvania Press ($90)

Scripts of Blackness shows how the early modern mass media of theatre and performance culture at-large helped turn blackness into a racial category, that is, into a type of difference justifying emerging social hierarchies and power relations in a new world order driven by colonialism and capitalism.

Those scripts were often gendered and hinged on notions of demonization, exclusion, exploitation, animalization, commodification, sexualization, consensual enslavement, misogynoir, infantilization, and evocative association with other racialized minorities. Scripts of Blackness attempts to grasp the stories that Western Europeans told themselves through performative blackness, and the effects of those fictions on early modern Afro-diasporic subjects.

Kattaikkuttu: A Rural Theatre Tradition in South India

Hanne M. de Bruin

Bloomsbury ($33)

This is the first book to offer a clear introduction to Kattaikkuttu (or Terukkuttu), a vibrant, vocal and physical outdoor Tamil theatre tradition from India. It describes the theatre’s characteristic heroic nature as expressed through its principal, male kattai characters, explores its history, social status and ritual context, and examines the production of all-night plays.

In addition, the book looks in more detail at the role of the performer, including the training of a Kattaikkuttu novice, the performance score of actor-singers that underlie a specific role or vesam, and a seasoned performer’s agency in interpreting well-known roles. Finally, the study turns to recent innovations, in particular the creation of new work and the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.

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Theatre and Dramaturgy

Zoe Svendsen

Bloomsbury ($20)

What is a dramaturg? What is dramaturgy? What are the political implications for the way that plays produce meaning in performance?

Over the last decade, the role of the dramaturg has become more common in the theatrical process, but it is still a new term for many theatre-goers. Theatre & Dramaturgy offers a working definition of what dramaturgy means, and asks how understanding theatre from the perspective of dramaturgy can help us understand the world around us.

Ukrainian New Drama after the Euromaidan Revolution

Ed. Holly Flynn

Bloomsbury ($50)

Ukrainian New Drama After the Euromaidan Revolution brings together key works from the country’s impressively generative post-Revolutionary period, many of them published here in English for the first time. As well as established voices from the European theatre repertoire such as Natalka Vorozhbyt and Maksym Kurochkin, this collection also features iconic plays from Ukraine’s post-Maidan generation of playwrights Natalka Blok, Andrii Bondarenko, Anastsiia Kosodii, Lena Lagushonkova, Olha Matsiupa, and Kateryna Penkova. Considered together, these plays reflect the diversity of voices in Ukraine as a country seeking to comprehend both the personal and political consequences of the Revolution, the war, and all that has come since.

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The Vespers: 100 Monologues for Everyone

Philip Ridley

Bloomsbury ($39)

Have you ever struggled to find the perfect monologue?
Do you want to lose yourself in an unforgettable story?
Do you want to be…transported?

Philip Ridley’s The Vespers is a major work by a major writer. 100 original, self-contained monologues for actors (and readers) of all genders, all ages, and all levels of experience. Varying in length, style and structure – from the surreally comic to the heartbreakingly tragic – this is an essential toolkit for any actor (or anyone who enjoys a good story) with an introduction by Cath Badham, Lecturer in Performance at the University of Derby, UK.

Looking at Christmas

Steven Banks

Broadway Play Publishing ($27)

Christmas Eve. New York City. An aspiring writer and a struggling actress meet while looking at the famous holiday windows, and the characters in the displays come to life and look back at them, including a lecherous elf with eyes for Mrs. Claus; Scrooge and Tiny Tim arguing about being portrayed as zombies; a street-wise Little Match Girl; Jim from “The Gift of the Magi” enjoying his wife’s new androgynous haircut; and a jealous Joseph the Carpenter. A smart, sweet, slightly twisted holiday romantic comedy.

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Who’s Holiday!

Matthew Lombardo

Broadway Play Publishing ($27)

WHO’S HOLIDAY! is a wildly funny and heartfelt adults-only comedy that tells the story of Cindy Lou Who as she recalls that Christmas Eve she first met the Grinch and the twisted turn of events her life has now taken.

You saw her last when she was just two
Celebrate the holidays with Cindy Lou Who
Pull up a seat and fill up your cup
‘Cause your favorite little Who is all grown up

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The Ultimate Christmas Show

Reed Martin and Austin Ticheno

Broadway Play Publishing ($27)

Welcome to the Annual Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant at St. Everybody’s Non-Denominational Universalist Church, where all faiths are welcome because we’ll believe anything. But there’s a problem: none of the acts scheduled to perform have arrived, so three members are pressed into service to perform the entire Variety Show and Christmas Pageant by themselves. An irreverent yet heartwarming trip through the holidays, THE ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS SHOW (ABRIDGED) is festive, funny, physical, family fun as these Three Wise Guys send-up and celebrate our favorite holiday traditions.

An Actor’s Carol

Charles Evered

Broadway Play Publishing ($27)

Burned-out actor Hugh Pendleton, not-so-fresh from playing Scrooge one too many times in the backwater community theatre where his once promising career has met its unglamorous end, is surprised to encounter three spirits of his own in this quirky and compelling ode to the holiday classic.

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The Improv Illusionist

David Raitt

Bloomsbury ($35)

Object work, environment and physicality are essential for improvisational theatre. Skilled improvisers can draw audiences into the performance by helping them see things that aren’t there. The Improv Illusionist is the first book dedicated to physical improv. It reveals why these skills are so important, how to fix bad habits that develop over time and practical techniques for being more physical on stage. The book features over 50 exercises to help improvisers develop their skills through solo and group work. Instructors will also find notes and tips for teaching physical improv.

The Methuen Drama Book of Contemporary Japanese Plays

Various Authors

Bloomsbury ($50)​

Published alongside The Japan Foundation, this collection features five creative and bold plays by some of Japan’s most prolific writers of contemporary theatre. Translated into English for the first time, these texts explore a wide range of themes from dystopian ideas of the future to touching domestic tragedies. 

Faith, Hope and CHARLIE

Marc Coyle

Canadian Play Outlet ($15)

This play is based on the true life of Indigenous WW2 Hero Tommy Prince in a fictional bank robbery.

Set in the early 50’s before universal health care, Tommy needs to raise $5,000 to get his son a life-saving surgery. Left with few options he decides to rob a bank. The problem is, even with his military background, he cares about people to much to see them get hurt and when the bank doesn’t have $5,000 in cash things really get complicated. The bank manager Charlie also wants to make sure no one gets hurt and while Chief of police Leland “Barbarian” Barber raises the stakes outside the bank, Charlie goes to work trying to outsmart them all.

A funny, heartfelt comedy that entertains while gently examining what could have been, had Tommy Price come home to the heroes welcome he deserved after the war.

Healthy Ethics: Plays for Health Care

Katherine Koller

Canadian Play Outlet ($15)

The Healthy Ethics plays were commissioned to be presented by staff at professional development days for nurses in hospitals. They have since been read at conferences, ethics events, arts research seminars, festivals, seniors’ lodges and universities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. One of the plays, “Queenie’s Castle”, is translated into French and also into Cree. Reading the Healthy Ethics plays aloud, to be heard and discussed by others, gives students and healthcare workers an inviting and accessible entry into the study of ethics. They may be staged or accessed as readers’ theatre or audioplays.

We’ll Always Have Paris

Marc Coyle

Canadian Play Outlet ($15)

Dave wants to meet a lady but his awkwardness always seems to get in the way, Elaine has been too shy to ever come out of her shell. Somehow, they meet in the PARIS restaurant where Mark and Sabina try against all odds to bring them together. Luckily Eva the waitress is there to pick up all the broken pieces and try to keep the whole thing from falling apart.

Set in a backdrop of classic Casablanca movie quotes, Elaine makes a heartfelt admission, she’s not sure what’s worse dying of a lonely heart or a broken one.

The only way to find out is by visiting Paris.

Selma Burke

Maria Crooks and Caroline Russell-King

Canadian Play Outlet ($15)

Based on the true story of the African American sculptress, Selma Burke chronicles many of the extraordinary events of the 20th century through her extraordinary sculptures, including lynching’s, the Harlem Renaissance, the Holocaust, and the assassination of MLK. Recognizing that it’s aways easier to rip things down than build things up, she champions others’ accomplishments through her art in a society that doesn’t always recognize her talents, with a husband who (loves her but) often destroys her work, with the government which steals her art, and the FBI. Selma Burke includes the innovative use of actors who metaphorize into Selma’s sculptures that challenge, support and bicker with her and each other.

The Do-Over

Robert J. Wheeler

Canadian Play Outlet ($15)

Rob The Playwright dies without finishing his comedy I’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. STELLA, God’s special angel, is dispatched to find him a temporary body so he can finish his play. Stella is perturbed to find Rob is a difficult subject, as he won’t accept the bodies she has presented to him. Rob objects to a female body, then is delirious about having breasts but has second thoughts about the transfer as he moans “nothing’s swinging below deck”. When Rob finds out Stella is one mistake away from playing for the Other Team, he is concerned about her mistake causing him to take the torturous red-eye ride into Hell.

Home Child

Laura Teasdal

Canadian Play Outlet ($15)

In 1894, Poppy James is scooped up off the streets of London and sent across the vast Atlantic Ocean to live and work with a Canadian family. She finds her place in the family, growing ever closer to the eldest son, Matthew, while struggling to keep the shocking truth of her journey secret. Based on a true story. An outdoor play made for touring (that can also be played inside

Es & Flo

Jennifer Lunn

Canadian Play Outlet / Nick Hern Books ($28)

Es and Flo fell fiercely in love in the eighties. They’ve been living as secret lovers ever since. As Es becomes more forgetful around their home, an unexpected carer arrives. Who sent this woman? Why? And can they trust her? As the outside world comes crashing in, Flo fights to protect the life they’ve built together over forty years behind closed doors. And faces the hardest battle of her life – to hold on to the woman she loves.

Jennifer Lunn’s play Es & Flo is a sharply observed, deeply compassionate drama, coloured with memories of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. It celebrates an older lesbian relationship, women coming together to fight for what’s right, and the healing power of chosen family.

Notes from a Small Island

Bill Bryson and Tim Whitnall

Canadian Play Outlet / Nick Hern Books ($28)

It’s 1973, and a young man from Des Moines, Iowa, has arrived on the ferry at Dover. He intends to conquer the whole of the island, like Caesar attempted before him. But Caesar didn’t have to deal with counterpanes, kippers, Cadbury’s Curly Wurlies, or Mrs Smegma the landlady’s eccentric house rules. As Bill travels the length and breadth of Britain, through villages with names like Titsey and Little Dribbling, something strange starts to happen. Can it be true? Is he really starting to feel at home?

Making Your Solo Show

Lisa Carroll and Milly Thomas

Playwrights Canada Press / Nick Hern Books ($25)

This clear, accessible guide to creating and putting on a solo show is packed with inspiring, practical advice for writers, actors, directors, and anyone who wants to know how solo shows are actually made.

Written by two theatremakers with a wealth of experience in the field, it leads you through the whole process – from finding a subject you’re passionate about, to developing your ideas and getting the script written, through to rewrites, rehearsals and getting your show on stage. It tackles key questions such as: What makes a ‘good’ solo show? How do I engage the audience? How should directors and writer-performers work together? And what’s the best way of approaching a producer?

There’s also invaluable advice on looking after yourself, coping with anxieties, dealing with reviews, and taking your show to the Edinburgh Fringe. With practical exercises throughout to help you put everything into action, this book is an indispensable toolkit for making your solo show a reality.

Run, Rebel

Manjeet Mann

Playwrights Canada Press / Nick Hern Books ($28)

Amber is trapped – by her family’s rules and expectations, and by her own fears. But on the running track she feels free. As her body speeds up, the world slows down. And the tangled, mixed-up words in her head start to make sense…

It’s time to start a revolution: for her mother, for her sister, for herself. Run, Amber. Run.

Manjeet Mann’s multi-award-winning verse novel, Run, Rebel, about a young woman beginning to take control of her life, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2021 and won the CILIP Carnegie Shadowers Choice Award, a UKLA Book Award, a Diverse Book Award and the Sheffield Children’s Book Award.

Among Men

David Yee

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)

1959, Ameliasburgh, Prince Edward County, Canada. On the edge of spring, two men are finishing an A-frame cabin on Roblin Lake. In the coming decade all three of them—Al, Milt, and the A-frame—will become famous and change the face of Canadian poetry. But for now, all they have is the stench of sweat, whiskey, and words. From Governor General’s Literary Award–winner David Yee, among men is a poetic and charged portrait of male friendship in uncertain times, and a story of how Canadian literature was changed forever.

The Jungle

Anthony MacMahon and Thomas McKechnie

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)

Can Jack and Veronyka ever get ahead? In this all-too-relatable love story in a city suffocating under late-stage capitalism, a young couple is pitted against odd after odd in a way that isn’t about testing one’s character anymore—it’s simply reality.

Jack, a second-generation Chinese Canadian cab driver meets Veronyka, an undocumented factory worker and waitress from Moldova, as he’s bringing her from one job to the other. Their chance encounter blooms into an unlikely romance, stolen in moments between shifts, and then a hasty marriage, which solves migration issues but brings the pair even deeper into the challenges of providing for themselves and their families. The painful death of both of Jack’s parents and the sense of helplessness that has dogged both of their families leads Jack and Veronkya to desperate measures to escape. Some hard work mixed with some political blackmail brings them to a new life, but at what cost?

Burning Mom

Mieko Ouchi

Playwrights Canada Press ($19)

A retired suburban wife and mother tragically loses her partner after forty-five years together. So what does she do? The only thing that makes any sense at all. She embarks on her own hero’s journey. A road trip to the middle of the Nevada desert in a twenty-six-foot-long RV.

Based on the experiences of playwright Mieko Ouchi’s mother, Dorothy Ouchi, this irreverent one-woman play tosses us into the passenger seat and takes us on a voyage through the process of grief and the search for meaning and onto the madcap playa of the world’s largest free-form creative gathering as Dorothy discovers the power of art, community, Walmart, and MOOP and the courage to jump back into the deep end of life.

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