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Sher, Emil (Canadian playwright, 1959-____), "Sanctuary,"

a 45-minute drama in English set in a secluded spot in an urban park,


© 1997 by Emil Sher, script/rights available from Playwrights Guild of Canada, www.playwrightsguild.ca; contact Emil Sher via e-mail emil@emilsher.com, www.emilsher.com. • Cited by playwright via ftp, May 21, 1997, and updated June 12, 2003; Sher says,

§ Dramatis Personae Philip (m), a deserted artist; June (f), widow.

§ Synopsis "Philip is sketching. June arrives, startled to find someone there. Philip is in her 'spot' but refuses to leave. June is familiar with sketching: her emotionally-abusive husband made her pose every week, for years. That kind of art does not interest Philip. He uses art as therapy. A year ago his wife stepped out the door and never returned. June's husband drowned that winter. She is at the park to scatter his ashes. Philip knows about June's spot. He has been watching her from a distance. Initially angry that she has been watched, June asks Philip to read a eulogy about her damaged marriage as she scatters her husband's ashes. 'I killed him,' June suddenly declares. She could have saved her drowning husband. Philip disagrees, but June wants to show him otherwise. She asks Philip to crouch behind a stone. Before he knows it, Philip is playing the role of June's husband, as June recreates the last moments of her husband's life. Convinced she killed him, June douses herself with gasoline. She flicks a lighter. Philip distracts her with a gift and grabs the lighter out of her hand. She collapses, then opens Philip's gift: a sketch he drew of her. Philip hands her his sketch pad and charcoal. 'Draw,' he tells her. June stares at the sketch pad, weeping."

§ Comment "'A tight, well-crafted two-hander. . . . Sher weaves a delicate tapestry of two lives. . . . This both humorous and disturbing story . . . makes for a compelling 45 minutes of theatre.'—Vit Wagner, Toronto Star. • "Sanctuary first premiered at the Fringe of Toronto Festival in 1991, where it played to sold-out houses. Sanctuary has since been staged in New York and has been featured in several one-act play festivals. Female actors have found the role of June particularly challenging and rewarding. A very simple set-a few boulders-means production costs can be kept very low. • Addendum, June 12, 2003: Sanctuary has been produced in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K, with an upcoming production in Australia."

§ Themes art, art as therapy, desertion, drowning, gift, grief, guilt, impersonation, initial meeting, model, park, ritual, sketching, suicide.

This Website continues under construction and welcomes new citations and comments.

Page updated May 27, 1997, July 13, 2003, by the site Webmaster.

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