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LPG Drama Backlist Catalogue: 2015

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Burning Vision ebook
By (author): Marie Clements
9780889228085 Electronic book text, Unspecified English DRAMA / Canadian Mar 15, 2003
$17.95 CAD
Active 0 x 0 x 0 cm 128 pages Talonbooks
Marie Clements’s latest play sears a dramatic swath through the reactionary identity politics of race, gender and class, using the penetrating yellow-white light, the false sun of uranium and radium, derived from a coal black rock known as pitchblende, as a metaphor for the invisible, malignant evils everywhere poisoning our relationship to the earth and to each other.

Burning Vision unmasks both the great lies of the imperialist power-elite (telling the miners they are digging for a substance to “cure cancer” while secretly using it to build the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki); and the seemingly small rationalizations and accommodations people of all cultures construct to make their personal circumstances yield the greatest benefit to themselves for the least amount of effort or change on their part. It is also a scathing attack on the “public apology” as yet another mask, as a manipulative device, which always seeks to conceal the maintenance and furtherance of the self-interest of its wearer.

Clements’s powerful visual sets and soundscapes contain curtains of flames which at times assume the bodies of a chorus passing its remote judgment, devoid of both pity and fear, on the action: a merciless indictment of the cross-cultural, buried worm of avarice and self-interest hidden within the terrorism of the push to “go with the times,” to accept the iconography of a reality defined, contextualized and illuminated by others.

Marie Clements writes, or, perhaps more accurately, composes, with an urbane, incisive and sophisticated intellect deeply rooted in the particulars of her place, time and history.

Cast of five women and 12 men.

Marie Clements
Marie Clements is an award-winning Métis performer, playwright and director whose work has been presented on stages across Canada, the United States and Europe. A fellowship award from the BC Film Commission enabled her to develop the film adaptation of her stage play, The Unnatural and Accidental Women. She is also a regular contributor on CBC Radio. The world premiere of Copper Thunderbird is the first time Canada’s National Arts Centre has produced the work of a First Nations playwright on its main stage.

Burning Vision by Marie Clements In the late 1880s, a Dene medicine man prophesized a “burning vision” that will “come a long time in the future. It will come burning inside.” His people may have regarded him as a sapient observer of the future, but nobody else did. The Dene seer’s burning vision turned out to be the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The source of those bombs – uranium – came from the bowels of Sahtu Dene territory in the Northwest Territories and it ripped many lives apart long before the bombs were created, let alone dropped. In Burning Vision, Métis performer and playwright Marie Clements’ latest play, she traces the journey of uranium, using it as a metaphor for the poisonous effects on humans resulting from constructing lives on foundations so terribly out of synch with nature. Clements covers a lot of ground, but she knows her territory and travels it deftly. Sketching a path from 1880 to 1945, she traces the journey of uranium from the land of her ancestors, down the Mackenzie River, across the United States, and landing in Hiroshima. En route she presents an allegory of the characters and lives and lies that are wrapped up in this substance’s discovery. Clements dips her pen in numerous cross-cultural references, from cherry trees to caribou to Hank Williams, and writes with a magical irreverence that highlights this tragic saga. Her rich poetic style evokes parallels between Japanese and native myths – not unlike Yeats’ Noh Plays where Celtic and Japanese myths meld – finding connection through ancient truths and the power of the soil, except in this case the soil is literally explosive. Clements has divided her play into four movements, using leitmotifs to connect everything to the main metaphor. The text’s impact is lessened without the visual and aural accompaniment of the live production, but Clements’ power as a storyteller manages to rise above this limitation, making Burning Vision a lasting read. Reviewed by Elizabeth Mitchell (from the Quill&Quire July 2003 issue) - Elizabeth Mitchell, www.quill&quire.com

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