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Colleen Murphy holding The Breathing Hole

Meet the Author: Colleen Murphy

By Jessica Lewis Date: March 04, 2021 Tags: Meet the Author

Get to know the author behind the epic The Breathing Hole—Colleen Murphy!

Describe yourself in one sentence.
One word: obsessive.

Tell us a little bit about your new book.
The Breathing Hole is about the life and death of a 500-year-old polar bear named Angu’řuaq. I wanted to write an emotional play about the climate emergency. While doing paper research on the subject, I realized I had to explore cause and effect and go back into the past and forward into the future. After the world premiere at Stratford in 2017, Siobhan Arnatsiaq-Murphy came onboard to work on developing the cultural precision of the Inuit characters, and Janet Tamalik McGrath joined in to translate the whole play into Nattilingmiutut. It took us over two years of work, but it was a wonderful experience. 

What’s something unique about you or something you like to do?
I’m not terribly unique. I love to spend time with my son and his partner. I love being in the fields north of Toronto with my golden retriever, Billie, and with my veterinarian’s four golden retrievers. I love reading and writing and driving fast.

What is something that you enjoy doing, and why?
Driving fast. I love speed and always dreamed about being rich enough to buy either a Lamborghini or a Maserati. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong profession.

What are some of your favourite plays?
The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth; all of Arthur Miller (he’s a beautiful structuralist) such as All My Sons, A View from the Bridge, and The Price; Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Suzan Lori-Parks; The Bacchae by Euripides; and all of the plays by every Canadian playwright who has ever stepped out on a limb only for it to break under them, so they held on to the air.  

What are you reading these days?
War: How Conflict Shaped Us by Margaret MacMillan; Balancing Two Worlds: Jean-Baptiste Assiginack and the Odawa Nation, 1768-1866 by Cecil King; Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal, and Novacene by James Lovelock.

What’s something that makes you laugh?
Unexpected things like stupid jokes or harmless but hilarious accidents.  

Learn more about Colleen Murphy:
Born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, and raised in Northern Ontario, Colleen Murphy won the 2016 and 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Drama for her plays Pig Girl and The December Man / L’homme de décembre respectively. Both plays were also awarded a Carol Bolt Award. Other plays included The Society For The Destitute Presents Titus BouffoniusArmstrong’s WarThe Goodnight BirdThe Piper, and Beating Heart Cadaver, which was short-listed for a Governor General’s Literary Award. She is also a librettist—Fantasma for composer Ian Cusson, My Mouth On Your Heart for composer August Murphy-King, and Oksana G. for composer Aaron Gervais—and an award-winning filmmaker. She has been Writer-in-Residence at six universities and Playwright-in-Residence at two Canadian theatres as well as at Finborough Theatre in the UK.

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