The critically acclaimed new play by two-time Governor General's Award winner Thompson was seen in an earlier version in Los Angeles in June 2007. The new CanStage production will officially open at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street) on Jan. 17 and continue to Feb. 23.
According to CanStage, "Palace of the End is a searing triptych of monologues exposing the ugly truth behind the headlines of the current situation in Iraq. It provides three distinct perspectives on the reality of the war: that of a young American soldier imprisoned for her misconduct at a prison camp in Iraq; a British microbiologist and weapons inspector who exposes the false justifications for war; and an Iraqi mother whose life is destroyed first by Saddam Hussein's regime and then by the American invasion. Each account is a riveting indictment of one of the contemporary world's worst conflicts and also a celebration of the music of the human voice and the power of the human soul."
Thompson said in a statement, "Each monologue is inspired by news stories or research on real events but the persona or character in each monologue has been created by me, and everything other than the real events springs from my imagination. The first monologue, titled My Pyramids, was inspired by the media circus around an American soldier convicted of the sexual torture of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison. The second monologue, Harrowdown Hill, was inspired by well-publicized events surrounding the public life and death of British scientist David Kelly. The third monologue, Instruments of Yearning, was inspired by the true story of Nehrjas Al Saffarh, a member of the Communist party of Iraq, who was tortured by Saddam Hussein's secret police in the 1970s and died when her home was bombed by the Americans in the first Gulf War."
Directed by Canadian Stage's artistic director David Storch, Palace of the End features Genie and Gemini Award-winner Arsinée Khanjian in her Canadian Stage debut as an Iraqi mother; Maev Beaty as an American soldier; and two-time Dora Award-winner Julian Richings as a British microbiologist and weapons inspector. "I am extremely honored to be working on Palace of the End," stated artistic director David Storch, who directs the production. "Palace of the End marks Judith Thompson's first foray into global politics. A distinct theatrical voice, her plays are always disturbingly real. They shine a light on the dark underbelly of urban society and the redemptive power of the soul."
The creative team includes set and costume designer Teresa Przybylski, lighting designer Kimberly Purtell, composer/sound designer John Gzowski, stage manager Marinda De Beer and apprentice stage manager Isabelle Ly.
Thompson is one of Canada's most prominent playwrights. She won two Governor General's Awards — the country's most prestigious literary prize (for White Biting Dog and The Other Side of the Dark) — and other awards and nominations. Recently she was awarded the Canada Council's 2007 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts and named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005. Since her professional debut with The Crackwalker (1980), she penned White Biting Dog (1984), I Am Yours (1987), The Other Side of the Dark (1990), Lion in the Streets (1991), Sled (1997), Perfect Pie (2000), Habitat (produced by The Canadian Stage Company in 2001), Capture Me (2004) and Enoch Arden at the Hope Shelter (2005).
For more information, visit www.canstage.com.