Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

I received this book from Playwrights Canada Press in exchange for an honest review.

“Creative, enterprising, and technologically savvy, millennials have produced a proliferation of images of themselves that complicate demographic analyses and challenge widely held assumptions. These films, television series, digital representations, and, of course, plays, offer complex insights into a much-maligned demographic and deserve serious attention,” (MacArthur xii-xiii).

Voices of a Generation: Three Millennial Plays does an excellent job showcasing a variety of different millennial voices by three talented playwrights. I loved how varied each of these works were from one another, and really appreciated the introductory essays at the beginning of each play. They each analyzed the work in a way that made me appreciate each of the plays more and brought me back to my student days when I’d be researching articles for an essay. That may not sound like a compliment, but it’s one of the highest I can give. I love learning, and I felt like I learned so much from these essays and these plays. I’d love for more collections of plays to be formatted like this, that offer new reading material as well as intelligent analysis of each of the works inside.

Even if you’re not a millennial, there’s so much to love in this collection! Don’t miss out on Voices of a Generation, these are voices you’ll be eager to listen to!

Read my thoughts on all of the plays below:

zahgidiwin/love by Frances Koncan – 5 stars

Namid is a young Indigenous woman who has been the victim of abuse at a residential school in the 1960s, she’s also a missing woman being held captive by a white man in the 1990s, and a rebellious daughter in a post-apocalyptic society. Namid’s story spans across generation and time, a comedy that cleverly shows the effects on colonization on Indigenous communities and people. I loved Namid’s voice and would love to see this on stage, it was such a fun play despite the dark subjects at times.

The Millennial Malcontent by Erin Shields – 4 stars

A group of millennials head out to Nuit Blanche for a night of mistaken identities and romantic and sexual pursuits. I’ve never read Sir John Vanbrugh’s Restoration Comedy The Provoked Wife, but I am OBSESSED with how Shields adapted this work. From a dense social media influencer to a brutally abusive wife, Shields perfectly modernizes Restoration Comedies for the modern world, making valid points about how much we hide behind our screens. Let’s bring back Restoration Comedies!

In Smoke by Elena Eli Belyea – 4 stars

Aiden’s ex Jordan finds Aiden at a new apartment, confronting her about a sexual assault allegation she made against Jordan two years before. Over the course of a few hours they talk and discuss their conflicting memories of that night and how to move on from it. This was a tough play, as Belyea has made it that both Jordan and Aiden can be innocent/guilty, as well as having the option of Jordan being performed by either a cis-male or cis-female actor which changes the ways audiences can interpret their relationship and the allegations brought forth. This was a difficult play, easily the most thought-provoking of the bunch. I hope more essays and readings can be done on this play to discuss just how complex it is.

58935670Publication: March 1st 2022
Publisher: Playwrights Canada Press
Pages: 288 pages (Paperback)
Source: Library
Genre: Fiction, Theatre, Play
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤.5

Voices of a Generation collects three Canadian plays that speak to millennials’ complex and varied experiences and the challenges and stereotypes they often face.
zahgidiwin/love by Frances Koncan follows Namid through multiple generations: as a victim of abuse in a residential school in the 1960s, as a missing woman held in a suburban basement in the 1990s, and as the rebellious daughter of a tyrannical queen in a post-apocalyptic, matriarchal society. A comedy about loss in the era of truth and reconciliation, zahgidiwin/love uses a mash-up of theatrical styles to embody the millennial creative impulse to remix and remake while presenting a vital perspective on what decolonization might look like both on and off stage.
The Millennial Malcontent by Erin Shields is a gender-swapped adaptation of Sir John Vanbrugh’s Restoration Comedy The Provoked Wife, following a group of millennials during a night out as they romantically and sexually pursue each other with comical results. Satirizing every trope from social media stardom to economic precarity to slacktivism, Shields reveals the loneliness lurking under every smiling profile photo.
In Smoke by Elena Eli Belyea, Aiden’s ex Jordan arrives at Aiden’s door to confront her about the allegation that Jordan sexually assaulted her two years ago, forcing them to discuss their conflicting memories of their last night together and whether and how they’re going to move forward. With Jordan meant to be performed by either a cis-male or cis-female actor, Smoke is a nuanced examination of issues and perceptions surrounding sexual assault and consent.

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