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Balconville


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A: David Fennario Pf: 1979, Montreal Pb: 1980 G: Drama in 2 acts; English and Canadian French S: Working-class tenement, Montreal, 1970s C: 5m, 4fIn the working-class area of Pointe-St-Charles, the inhabitants, who cannot afford to go on vacation, spend the hot summers on their balconies, where they can observe and be observed. The lives of three families are shown. The French-speaking Claude Paquette works in an unfulfilling job, but is devastated when he loses it in Act 2. He has an attractive daughter Diane, whom he enjoys fondling, and who is forced to give up her studies when her father becomes unemployed. The English-speaking Tom Williams idles away his time waiting for an unemployment insurance cheque and dreams about his former brief career as a minor rock star. The third family, also English-speaking, is held together by Irene Regan, a resourceful mother, coping with her feckless son Johnny, who dreams of escaping to New York to join a rock band, but who will inevitably end up working in a factory. Especially poignant is Johnny's failure, because of the language barrier, to get close to Diane. The women show themselves to be dependable, contrasted with their husbands and with the empty promises of a French Canadian politician Bolduc, who is seeking re-election. Finally, their tenement block is burnt down (possibly so that the landlord can collect on his insurance), and the families gather their possessions in a panic. The final question in both languages: ‘What are we going to do?’ Qu'est-ce qu'on va faire?’ remains unanswered.

A: David Fennario Pf: 1979, Montreal Pb: 1980 G: Drama in 2 acts; English and Canadian French S: Working-class tenement, Montreal, 1970s C: 5m, 4f

Balconville, which claimed to be the first bilingual play in Canada, represents Fennario's Marxist standpoint in an absorbingly naturalistic style reminiscent of Rice's Street Scene. There is even less action here, where Fennario depicts merely the effect of an industrialized and alienated society on the lives of the characters. The final ‘What are we going to do?’ refers not only to the destruction of their home but is a challenge to change the system.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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