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pairings: classics and contemporaries

Pairings: Classic and contemporary reads for understanding our reality

By Jessica Lewis Date: January 24, 2019

We like to make comparisons, helping readers find books they would like, so in this new series Pairings, we’ll start with some classics and contemporaries! Whether you’re a fan of the “old” or the “new,” we have something for you. We’ve been around as a press since 1984 – that’s 35 years of plays! In that time, we’ve seen our earliest published plays become classics and Canadian theatre as an art and industry grow. And as new plays are published, we know one day those too will be classics. This set of pairings rounds up plays that question society no matter when they're read. 

The Little Years by John Mighton + Infinity by Hannah Moscovitch

The Little Years centres on a young woman in the 1950s who is a gifted mathematician struggling to be taken seriously. Her story tackles misogyny, the value of art, and the passing of time, much like Infinity. This modern-day story also includes a young mathematician facing limitations, but they’re more ones she’s set on herself, as well as a physicist and violinist who fall in love over theories. Both of these reads could provide a bit of an existential crisis when thinking deeply on the concept of time, but an overall sense of reality.

Alien Creature by Linda Griffiths + Gertrude and Alice by Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry, with Karin Randoja

Both of these plays envision real writers visiting the present day from their afterlife. In Alien Creature, the poet Gwendolyn MacEwan arrives with a prophetic warning about the death of imagination. In Gertrude and Alice, writers and partners Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas find themselves facing an audience that isn’t quite familiar with their legacy of writing, art collection, and their relationship. These reads are great for when you need a reminder to appreciate creativity and its ripple effects in this ever-taunting world.

Love and Human Remains by Brad Fraser ­+ Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill

These two plays feature young adults who are unashamed of swearing, sex, drugs, and the search for meaning. They both also feature a dead body. While Love and Human Remains was written in the 1980s and provided a certain shock value to Canadian theatre, Concord Floral is a tale for 21st century teenagers who are used to a certain level of normalized terror. The acts of trusting someone and searching for comfort come together in suspense in both of these stories, keeping the reader on their toes and in tune with the wants and needs of young people.

Stay tuned for more recommendations in Pairings!

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