The Ventriloquist Front Cover

Paperback / softback
ISBN: 9780889225367
Pages: 64
Pub. Date: April 1 2006
Dimensions: 8.5" x 5.5" x 0.25"
Rights: Available: WORLD
Drama / DRA013000

  • DRAMA / Canadian

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The Ventriloquist

By Larry Tremblay
Translated by Keith Turnbull

In The Ventriloquist, Larry Tremblay directs his celebrated mastery of the dramatic monologue to an interrogation of the process of characterization itself. Alone on the stage with his puppet, the ventriloquist introduces his “self ” as a construct of characters, along with his “other” imagined characters, to an audience which bears witness to the enormous psychological risks an author must take in the creative process. Constantly walking the dangerously thin edge separating the creation of voice from its appropriation, the ventriloquist struggles to control and shape an imaginary dialogue that we know originates from a single source, but successfully creates the illusion of personal conflict and resolution, success and failure, triumph and despair.

Part of the extended metaphor of interaction between an authoritative adult psychoanalyst and a deeply disturbed adolescent patient, each of the characters in The Ventriloquist is stripped of their clothes of convention, encouraged to reveal both their “real” and “imagined” transgressions of mind and body, to break free of the constraints and taboos against incest, abuse, dominance and submission which are at one and the same time both the foundations and the limitations of the most fundamental of human interactions. As fractured as the process of writing itself, with all of its false starts, pauses, blockages and revisions, both the ventriloquist and his puppet in this play become a series of unresolved vocalized texts and erasures of self and other, locked in the struggle of the constructed self to imagine an other that is, in the end, more than merely an elaborated fragment of whom any given character represents from one moment of successful illusion to the next in both the “real” and the “imaginary” world.

“Eschewing a traditional narrative structure, Larry Tremblay’s The Ventriloquist creates level upon level of dramatic tension; the result is a riveting play excitingly free of any pretence towards kitchen-sink realism … Tremblay’s play, like a deeply thoughtful gift, is stunning.”
Rain Taxi Review of Books

“This translation [is] skilfully wrought by director Keith Turnbull … This is, from the get-go, a foray into the absurd, but you are soon so busy trying to keep track of the many layers of Tremblay’s twisted scenario that the absurdity becomes secondary. What lingers is a degree of delight at Tremblay’s ability not so much to weave a storyline as to unravel one with such finesse and beauty.”
Toronto Sun

“This is the best new Quebec play in many years.”
— Robert Lévesque, C’est bien meilleur le matin (Radio-Canada)

“A brilliantly constructed play that breaks through theatrical convention.”
Le Soleil

“Without a doubt the most recent play by the author of The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi is a fascinating thing.”
La Presse