________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 18 . . . . May 11, 2001

cover A Map of the Senses: Twenty Years of Manitoba Plays.

Rory Runnells (Ed.)
Winnipeg, MB: Scirocco Drama/J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing (Distributed by General Distribution Services), 2000.
519 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 1-896239-63-3.

Subject Headings:
Canadian drama (English)-Manitoba.
Canadian drama (English)-20th century.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

For the last 17 years, Rory Runnells has been the coordinator of the Manitoba Association of Playwrights, an organization which he has held together throughout the many vicissitudes to which such voluntary artistic groups are subject. Doug Arrell, from the Theatre Department at the University of Winnipeg, writes in his preface to A Map of the Senses that there is hardly one play among the dozen appearing in the volume that does not owe something to Runnells. Most of the plays in this volume (many of which are in print for the first time) were originally viewed by small audiences at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival or produced by out-of-the-mainstream groups such as Popular Theatre Alliance or Red Roots.

      Produced from 1982 to 1998, the twelve plays in A Map of the Senses feature small casts of 2 to 6 characters. Runnells believes that each piece fits his critical "bon mot" on the main themes inherent in Manitoba drama: that is, history revisited, the political-personal/ social action play and the social urban realism play. In his introduction to the anthology, he writes, "Here are diverse plays representing the tensions, obsessions and temperaments of the times."

      Contributors include such nationally acclaimed playwrights as Maureen Hunter ("Footprints on the Moon") and Bruce McManus ("Calenture"). Other Manitoba playwrights represented in A Map of the Senses are Alf Silver ("Thimblerig" produced by MTC in 1982), Rick Chafe ("Zac and Speth") Ross McMillan ("Washing Spider Out"), Deborah O'Neil ("Worm Moon"), Harry Rintoul ("Between Then and Now"), Ian Ross ("Heart of a Distant Tribe"), Elise Moore ("Live With It"), Yvette Nolan ("Blade"), and Dennis Trochim ("Better Looking Boys"). According to the editor, a collection such as this one is much needed in the continuing effort to make good Manitoba playwrights matter to themselves and to their audiences.

      Librarians and teachers should be aware that the language and content of these plays are decidedly adult and may be thought inappropriate in some communities. A Map of the Senses should find its niche, however, in the professional resource collection of the high school library, where English and drama teachers will be pleased to find it.


Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364