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Sunday March 28, 2010 in Books
Two epigraphs that frame The Occupation of Heather Rose, one from Alice in Wonderland and the other from Heart of Darkness, prepare the audience for the nightmare of dislocation and alienation this one-woman show evokes.
Young, naïve, and inadequately trained, urban health care/social worker Heather Rose flirts with the pilot as she wings her way north in a bush plane, to land in an isolated and remote northern/Native community, carrying her Canada Food Guides, plans for fitness classes and community social activities with her.
She is met, when she lands, with what she initially perceives as a careless disrespect for anything she has understood to date of culture and civilization. The destitute, wretched and alienated Native population she has been sent to “move forward” meet her bright imperial gaze with the blank stares that arise from relentless years of exploitation and broken promises.
Nine months later Heather Rose is “bushed”—utterly disillusioned by the growing horror of her new-found realization that what her culture has to offer this community: the alcohol bootlegged in by the charming bush pilot; the unsuitable clothing sold by the thoughtless proprietor of the general store; the gasoline used as much by the youth of the community to get high as to afford them access to what has become the tractless wilderness they inhabit; she finally understands is less than nothing—total dependency. She returns, compelled, like Marlowe in Heart of Darkness to tell her story to others—like her missing supervisor, whose empty office she “occupies” on her return, illustrating her monologue of despair on a blackboard to an absent colonial authority for which the audience stands in as its silent and complicit witness.
ISBN 13: 9780889225930 | ISBN 10: 889225931
5.5 W x 8.5 H x 0.25 D inches | 64 pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Playwright Wendy Lill takes you on an incredible intellectual and psychological journey..this kind of theatrical experience is not to be missed.”
— Georgia Straight
“An achingly honest reminder of the naively enthusiastic attempts that each of us has made to wade bravely into unfamiliar territory.”
— Toronto Star
“ Heather Rose is a structurally seamless play full of wit, vivid imagery and poignancy.”
— Halifax Mail Star
“A virtuoso solo showpiece..an entirely human but deceptively unsentimental play.”
— Vancouver Province
“Ultimately The Occupation of Heather Rose is a plea for forgiveness and understanding as Heather does battle with the darker part of her nature, that ‘heart of darkness’ that ‘occupies’ us all to some degree.”
— Gabriola Sounder
Finalist for the 1987 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama
About the ContributorsWendy Lill
Wendy Lill has not only written extensively for radio, magazines, film, television and the stage, but has also been active in national politics. In 1979, while with CBC Radio in Winnipeg, Lill wrote her first play, On the Line, to dramatize the plight of striking Winnipeg garment industry workers. Since then, her plays have gone on to examine the Canadian women’s suffrage movement (The Fighting Days); aboriginal-white relations (The Occupation of Heather Rose, Sisters); pedophilia and mass hysteria (All Fall Down); the slashing of social programs (Corker); and the dangerous lives of coal miners in her adopted province of Nova Scotia (The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum).
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.