Blood Relations and Other Plays


336 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-896300-64-2
DDC C812'.54





Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is librarian emeritus and former assistant director of
libraries at the University of Saskatchewan Library. He is also
dramaturge for the Festival de la Dramaturgie des Prairies.


Since 1971, Sharon Pollock has written more than 30 plays and radio
dramas. Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, she moved to Calgary in 1966
and has become a pre-eminently successful Western Canadian playwright
and director. Her plays Blood Relations and Doc have both been awarded
the Governor General’s Award for drama (in 1981 and 1986,

Ann Nothoff notes in her excellent introduction to this reissued
collection of Pollock’s early work that these plays “remain in the
landscape of Canadian drama and have [also] been relocated in other
countries for production and study.” Although a number of her plays
are based in Canadian history (Whiskey Six Candenza, newly included
here, or Walsh, for example), Pollock is by no means parochial in either
her subject matter or her stylistic choices. Her most celebrated and
often-produced early play, Blood Relations, is universal in its
intriguing exploration of the psychological landscape of American legend
Lizzie Borden (“Lizzie Borden took an axe / Gave her mother forty
whacks”) interpreted by an actress who is scripted and instructed by
the character herself in playing her role.

It is perhaps because of Pollock’s unusually wide scope in the use of
dramatic conventions to explore her issues that she is in such demand as
a dramaturge (she has led the playwrights’ colony at the Banff Centre
for the Arts and is currently playwright-in-residence at Theatre
Junction in Calgary). Nothoff points out that frequently Pollock’s
plots revolve around a woman constrained by historical circumstances to
make circumscribed choices to assert herself.

This welcome reissue of Pollock’s early plays includes production
photos, a new introduction, and an extensive bibliography.


Pollock, Sharon., “Blood Relations and Other Plays,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,