The Penelopiad: Acknowledging What has Always Spoken

Megan Follows and cast in The Penelopiad. Photo Credit: Robert Popkin

Breaking the silence of Penelope is not the only purpose of Margaret Atwood’s play The Penelopiad. Although the play follows Penelope’s account of her own life with and without Odysseus, Margaret Atwood reaches for something deeper, illuminating that what has always been interpreted as silence has always spoken. However, to communicate requires a listener, a listener that honours the language of the one who speaks to communicate. Silence is an auditory experience, it can be experienced as the choice to render the speaker superfluous. The one who is silent is ostracised from the sphere of language exchange.  It is this interpretation of silence that has formed a malignant corset around the representation of women in Greek mythology, and, of course, beyond.

It is made clear with this re-imagining of Penelope’s life that Penelope, Odysseus’ silently portrayed wife in the ‘canonical’ text The Odyssey, has left a trail of painful wails, discussions, and loving exchanges between Penelope and her contemporaries. Many of these women were left nameless as anonymous rape victims or trivialized competitive observers. This play cleverly throws the light on the women interwoven with Penelope’s life. Her voice flowers into being as we, the audience, have the opportunity to allow these voices to communicate for themselves. This is why it is very exciting that Nightwood Theatre has taken on this challenging piece.

Nightwood’s production is an honest, delicate, and imaginative portrayal of Penelope’s story. I quite enjoyed the art direction and vision for a whimsically mutable set which  suited the ‘interrupting of linear time’ character of the play itself. It aptly demonstrated in what way we were outside time, existing in between Penelope’s frozen poses where she could not speak, or inside the haunting voices of her female peers. All of the elements of the production were excellent from the set design to the evanescent movement of the cast.

The women of the play worked very nicely together as an ensemble. I was delighted to experience such diversity in quality and age. It was striking to me that it was ‘rare’ to see such diversity of women on a stage. This production definitely caused me to ask why this is the case. A question in my opinion that can never be over-used.

I strongly recommend this show. If not for the story but for the original way it conjures provocative emotions and thoughts. The Penelopiad runs until the 29th of January at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. I urge you to see it– be a part of completing the communication that was (and is still for many) violently ignored. 

(Left to right) Tara Rosling, Cara Gee, Monica Dottor, Pamela Sinha, Sophia Walker, Christine Brubaker, Raven Dauda, Kelli Fox, Bahia Watson and Megan Follows in The Penelopiad. Photo Credit: Robert Popkin.


Story by:

Hannah Rittner



Musical Works in Concert is now accepting submissions for it’s third year. Musical Works in Concert is an initiative founded in 2010 to provide a forum for Canadian writers and composers to help develop and present original music theatre. We strive to give voice to both emerging and emerged artists that work with both traditional and non-traditional forms of music theatre, creating interesting and exciting ways of telling their, and our, stories.

Part of the Music Series, Musical Works in Concert will be going into its 3rd season in 2012. To date, Musical Works has presented six original Canadian musical works: Romeo Candido and Carmen DeJesus’ Prison Dancer, Logan Medland’s Joni Loves Mitchell, Bram Gielen’s Biggish Kids, Tom Bellman and Barbara Nichol’s The Sparrow Songs, Sam Sholdice’s Program, and Paul Sportelli and Jay Turvey’s Oracle.

The focus of these evenings is to showcase new pieces by artists working with musical theatre models. The series offers artists a space to have their work presented in a stripped-down concert format for one night only in front of an audience. This year, the performances will take place on Sunday, August 12th and Monday, August 13th.

Applications are available at, and must be postmarked no later than March 1st, 2012.

For more information about the program and to apply, please visit




January 12, 2011 – The SummerWorks Festival is pleased to welcome Lucy Eveleigh as their new General Manager.


Originally from England, Eveleigh first moved to Toronto in 2001 where she was an actor and improve performer and worked at the Canadian Stage and TAPA (then Toronto Theatre Alliance).


“We are very pleased to welcome Lucy to SummerWorks, who brings a wealth of experience and an exciting new and ambitious energy to the Festival,” says Michael Rubenfeld, Artistic Producer of SummerWorks Theatre Festival.


Eveleigh brings a diverse range of knowledge to the role having worked at Just for Laughs in Montreal where she created and directed a new festival for them, entitled Zoofest. In addition to her work at Pleasance Theatre in London and Edinburgh, Eveleigh recently worked as Director of Marketing and Outreach at Necessary Angel Theatre Company.


“I have been a fan of SummerWorks since I moved here ten years ago,” says Eveleigh, adding, “I’m thrilled to work for a festival that brings so much to Canada. It’s going to be a wonderful challenge and one I am very much looking forward to.”


About SummerWorks

The SummerWorks Theatre Festival is the largest juried festival in Canada, featuring plays and artists from across Canada.  Since its inception twenty years ago, SummerWorks has been dedicated to offering artists an avenue to display their work.  Under the leadership of Michael Rubenfeld, the Festival’s Artistic Producer, SummerWorks has expanded to include a Music Series, a Performance Bar, Musical Works in Concert, and the S.L.I.P. (SummerWorks Leadership Intensive Program). It has received enthusiastic national acclaim.


The 2012 SummerWorks Theatre Festival will take place from August 9th-19th.

For more information please go to