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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Re-staging the past : moral inquiries in Sharon Pollock’s memory plays Belliveau, George Andre


Sharon Pollock's plays have made a significant contribution to Canadian drama over the last three decades; however, the majority of scholarly research on her work has concentrated on one particular play-Blood Relations-and for the most part these studies focus on feminism and metadrama. My thesis examines Pollock's use of the memory play and how within this genre the playwright metaphorically places one (or more) of her characters under investigation. The notion of memory is present in practically all of her plays, but to focus my argument I select dramatic works where a rememberer distinctly guides the audience from the play's present into the past. Because several of her memory plays are based on historical events I use an historiographical approach to illuminate her texts. In the six Pollock works that I examine a crime or social wrongdoing has taken place in the past, and one of the central characters needs to revisit the injustice from the play's present. Through memory, the past is restaged and the character who experiences the inquiry tries to understand, justify, and/or defend his or her position in the events. Instead of determining if the characters are legally responsible for the crime or wrongdoing, my investigation focuses on their level of moral responsibility in the social injustice. I propose to examine the moral inquiries within Pollock's work in the context of three types of memory plays, and these form the basis of my three main chapters: third-person memory (Walsh, The Komagata Mam Incident), first-person memory (One Tiger to a Hill, Moving Pictures), and multi-person memory (Doc, Fair Liberty's Calf).

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