Saskatoon playwright will share her works in Sweden
Saskatoon playwright, Madeleine Blais-Dahlem, has been selected to share her work on an international stage.
"I'm very blessed, in that a lot of the women that are going to be at this conference have had to really fight to have their voice heard and that's not the situation here in North America," she said.
The francophone author will travel to Stockholm, Sweden next week for the Women Playwrights International Conference (WPIC). The organization highlights work from women in 46 countries with a special interest in the Arab world and Africa, Blais-Dahlem said.
Her submission, La maculee, was produced by French theatre company, La Troupe du Jour, in Saskatoon last year. The award-winning play went on to a national festival in Ottawa and was also published in English.
"It's about immigration, it's about suicide, it's about loneliness. The plot is very simple and it's based on a true story," she said.
Blais-Dahlem’s play was inspired by a woman her mother knew in the 1940's. The woman would commit herself to the Saskatchewan hospital in North Battleford every spring so that she could fulfill her obligation as a Catholic. Her husband had left the church to join a mainstream English religion, Blais-Dahlem explained.
"And so she would get herself put into what we call … the nuthouse and it struck me what an act of despair that was."
While it is a Saskatchewan story, the theme of immigration and the basic questions of humanity explored in her work, will be common at the conference.
"When you have displaced families or families that are moving, it's the woman who is the keeper of the culture, the keeper of the language, the keeper of the faith, the keeper of where that family has come from," Blais-Dahlem said.
"At the same time, if she's expected to stay home, she's the person who is cut off from the new world. Children go to school, husband gets a job and the woman stays home, isolated."
Blais-Dahlem points to the cultural atmosphere in Saskatchewan today.
"We have major immigration from all over the world. You can see it on the streets."
"You have to think of all those women. Are they fitting in? Are they cut out? Are they having to change their vision of their god? Because religion is, to a certain degree, cultural," she said.
While at WPIC, Blais-Dahlem will read selected scenes from her play and explain the Canadian context.
"I've always wanted to be a writer - and I've been doing that - but to get invited to Sweden when you’re from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is awesome.”
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