If We Were Birds, by Erin Shields

Recipient of a 2011 Governor General’s Literary Award.

Play Description:
When King Pandion marries his daughter Procne off to war hero King Tereus, she must leave her beloved sister Philomela behind. After years of isolation in a foreign land, Procne begs Tereus to collect her sister for a visit. When confronted with Philomela’s beauty, Tereus’s desire triumphs over reason, igniting a chain of horrific events. A harrowing exploration of violence and revenge, this adaptation features a chorus of ravaged women, each a survivor of a 20th Century conflict: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Nanking, and Berlin.

This powerhouse of a play about the sexual politics of war is shocking and brutal, yet beautifully crafted in the style of a greek tragedy. Reading it off the page was a visceral and full body experience. I can’t imagine what it would be like to see it in a theatre or come to life in another setting that speaks to the world of the play.

I admit that although I consider myself an actor, it’s not often that I read a play and feel an overwhelming desire to perform in it. This play joins my list of dream plays in which I would love to fully immerse and give of myself.
It grabs the gut and it doesn’t let go.

link to Playwrights Canada Press

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