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Playwrights Canada Press Spring 2020

The Breathing Hole
By (author): Colleen Murphy With: Siobhan Arnatsiaq-Murphy Translated by: Janet Tamalik McGrath Introduction by: Kenn Harper
Colleen Murphy ,

With :

Siobhan Arnatsiaq-Murphy ,

Translated by :

Janet Tamalik McGrath ,

Introduction by :

Kenn Harper


Playwrights Canada Press



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Nov 23, 2020
$19.95 CAD


8.38in x 5.37 x 0.25 in | 500 gr

Page Count:

336 pages


160 minutes
Playwrights Canada Press
DRAMA / Women Authors
Carol Bolt Award 2018, Nominated Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2018, Nominated

Stories of the Canadian Arctic intersect in this epic five-hundred-year journey led by a one-eared polar bear.

In 1535, Hummiktuq, an Inuk widow, has a strange dream about the future. The next day, she discovers a bear cub floating on ice near a breathing hole. Despite the concerns of her community, she adopts him and names him Angu’ruaq. In 1845, Angu’ruaq and his mate Ukuannuaq wander into a chance meeting between explorers from the Franklin Expedition and Inuit hunters. Later, when the explorers are starving, the bears meet them again. By 2035, entrepreneurs are assessing degrees of melting ice for future opportunities. Angu’ruaq encounters the passengers and crew of a luxury cruise ship as it slinks through the oily waters of the Northwest Passage.

Humorous and dramatic, The Breathing Hole is a profound saga that traces the paths of colonialism and climate change to a deeply moving conclusion.

  • • Colleen has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama twice: for Pig Girl in 2016 and The December Man (L’homme de décembre) in 2007.

Born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, and raised in Northern Ontario, Colleen Murphy won the 2016 and 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Drama for her plays Pig Girl and The December Man / L’homme de décembre respectively. Both plays were also awarded a Carol Bolt Award. Other plays included The Society For The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius, Armstrong’s War, The Goodnight Bird, The Piper, and Beating Heart Cadaver, which was short-listed for a Governor General’s Literary Award. She is also a librettist—Fantasma for composer Ian Cusson, My Mouth On Your Heart for composer August Murphy-King, and Oksana G. for composer Aaron Gervais—and an award-winning filmmaker. She has been Writer-in-Residence at six universities and Playwright-in-Residence at two Canadian theatres as well as at Finborough Theatre in the UK.

Siobhan Arnatsiaq-Murphy has performed traditional Inuit drum dance and has worked as a choreographer for over twenty years. She studied ballet and was in the aboriginal modern dance core at the Banff Centre for the Arts with the Aboriginal Dance Project. In her choreography work, Siobhan melds traditional drum dancing with modern dance. She is a graduate of the University of Victoria where she earned her law degree in 2005. She has worked as a lawyer and also taught drum dancing to youth and children. Siobhan lives in Iqaluit and has three wonderful daughters and a stepson.

Janet Tamalik McGrath grew up in Nattilik culture in the 1970s. Throughout her childhood and early teen years she lived on the land in the summers with Nattilingmiut families, becoming fluent in the dialect and familiar with traditional values and teachings. After high school she became a regional interpreter-translator for the Nattilik area, innovating on audio presentation modes, assisting in the documentation of Nattilik grammar, and supporting script and font amendments to reflect the dialect’s unique phonemes. Her M.A. thesis was conducted and documented in Nattilingmiut dialect (“Conversations with Nattilingmiut Elders on Conflict and Change: Naalattiarahuarnira” 2004). Currently she works as a language advocate and consultant for Nattilik communities, and was approached by Qaggiavuut Society for assistance with The Breathing Hole.

Kenn Harper is a writer and historian who lived for fifty years in the Arctic. He is the author of Minik, the New York Eskimo (formerly Give Me My Father’s Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo); Thou Shalt Do No Murder: Inuit, Injustice, and the Canadian Arctic; and the series In Those Days: Collected Writings on Arctic History. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and a Knight of the Order of Dannebrog (Denmark).

“The play and production gently invite audiences to consider relations between native people, settlers and the natural world through perspectives that are novel—perhaps even a little revolutionary...” - Karen Fricker, Toronto Star

“What War Horse did for horses, this does for bears… The bear is, in all his charm and majesty and significance, a triumph for the author's ambition and imagination.” - Robert Cushman, National Post

“We’re conscious that we are witnessing a work of epic proportions.” - Jamie Portman, Capital Critics Circle

The Breathing Hole is an incredible piece of theatre that is both ground-breaking and deeply moving.”

- Lauren Gienow, Broadway World

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