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The Breathing Hole

The Breathing Hole

By Colleen Murphy
With Siobhan Arnatsiaq-Murphy
Translated by Janet Tamalik McGrath
Subjects: Environmental Issues, Ontario Playwrights, History, Translations, Women Writers
Duration: 160 minutes
Imprint: Playwrights Canada Press
Paperback : 9780369101105, 144 pages, October 2020
Expected to ship: 2020-10-27


  • Nominated, Carol Bolt Award 2018
  • Nominated, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2018


“In your travels across the snow and ice, always return to this place where you were loved for so long, and if you become lost or find yourself in difficulty, listen and you’ll hear my voice on the wind, calling your name . . . ”

Stories of the Canadian Arctic intersect in this epic five-hundred-year journey led by a one-eared polar bear.

In 1535, Hummiktuq, an Inuit widow, has a strange dream about the future. The next day, she discovers a bear cub floating on a piece of ice near a breathing hole. Despite the concerns of her community, she adopts him as her own and names him Angu’ruaq. In 1845, Angu’ruaq and his mate Panik wander into a chance meeting between Inuit hunters and explorers from the Franklin Expedition. By 2029, when surveyors and entrepreneurs examine the now-melting land for future opportunities, Angu’ruaq encounters the passengers and crew of a luxury cruise ship as it slinks through the oily waters of the Northwest Passage.

Humorous and dramatic, The Breathing Hole is a respectful and profound saga that traces the paths of colonialism and climate change, revealing the devastating scars left on the land and in history.


“We’re conscious that we are witnessing a work of epic proportions. ”

- Jamie Portman, Capital Critics Circle

“The play and production gently invite audiences to consider relations between native people, settlers and the natural world through perspectives that are novel—perhaps even a little revolutionary. ..”

- Karen Fricker, Toronto Star

“What War Horse did for horses, this does for bears… The bear is, in all his charm and majesty and significance, a triumph for the author's ambition and imagination. ”

- Robert Cushman, National Post