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Selected by Jacquie Johnston Lewis and Dianne Warren
Regina, Coteau Books, 1994.174pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 1-55050-059-7- (Florence James series). CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Valerie Nielsen

Volume 22 Number 5
1994 October

The two editors of Eureka! have lots of dramatic and literary credentials. Dianne Warren is an award-winning Saskatchewan playwright and writer of fiction, while Jacquie Lewis is a high school English and drama teacher. All seven plays in this collection were developed by Saskatchewan playwrights or student collectives and are, in the editors' opinion, appropriate for study and performance in secondary schools. Each of the plays is accompanied by the playwright's statement about the work, a brief biography, premiere production information, and character and set descriptions.

Two of the seven plays are written from an aboriginal point of view. Dreamkeeper by Bruce Sinclair is a series of dream sequences representing the present and future world of Canada's aboriginal peoples. Wheel of ]ustice by Prince Albert's SUNTEP theatre is a wickedly funny and ironic depiction of the trial Christopher Columbus might undergo were he arrested for the discovery of North America. Unfortunately, the impact and power of the play are significantly diminished by the introduction of the accusatory "Voices" at the end.

Two pieces by well-known Saskatchewan playwrights are included, Geoffrey Ursell's Park is a play with a decidedly absurdist flavour featuring an individual's passive resistance to "progress." Switching Places by Rex Deverell looks at the difficulties of teenage sex and pregnancy - with a most unlikely twist.

Men and Angels written by Lynn Kirk is a two-character play dealing with the prisons people make for themselves. Me an' Alfred, developed by a school drama club, consists of a series of flashbacks punctuating the life of a homeless alcoholic. The last play in the collection, No Means No, is a collective creation which focuses on the problem of date rape.

This is a collection for students from grade 9 and up, as all of the plays deal with sensitive and difficult issues. Each play could be useful to the right teacher or director with the right group; however, taken as a whole, the collection feels heavy-handed. There is little balance as far as the gender issue is concerned - males certainly take a beating. They are alcoholic, abusive, irresponsible and cowardly.

Secondary school librarians may want to add this to the rather sparse collection available of contemporary Canadian plays written for and about young people.

Optional purchase.

Valerie Nielsen is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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