Written and Directed by Michael Hollingsworth
The History of the Village Of the Small Huts 1885-1911
Laurier premiered in 1991 at Theatre Passe Muraille. VideoCabaret presented a newly devised version of Laurier in Spring 2008.
Laurier begins with Louis Riel’s execution, opposed by Wilfrid Laurier in a courageous act that propels him to the leadership of the Liberal Party. The death of Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald just after re-election in 1891 ends a political era, and launches a tumultuous inter-regnum -- four Tory Prime Ministers in four years. At the 1896 election, Liberals form the government and the Age of Laurier begins.
The play portrays Ottawa society from top to up-and-coming, as they revolve around the duelling salons of Laurier's wife Zoe, and his best friend's wife Emilie LaVergne with whom Laurier has a long and intimate relationship. The child of this ménage -- Armand LaVergne -- joins the early Quebec 'separatists' in opposing everything Laurier stands for. Other salonistes include the liberal Whigs Lord and Lady Aberdeen, the arch-imperialist Lord Minto, and the grandsons of the 1837 Rebels Papineau and Mackenzie -- the Quebec nationalist Henri Bourassa and the ambitious young William Lyon Mackenzie King.
As Canada begins its growth from colony to country, Laurier grapples with the controversies of Canadian troop support for the Boer War, and funding for religious schools. The great conflicts between Nationalism and Imperialism, Federalism and Regionalism, the Canadien Laurier and the Quebecois Bourassa, resonate with the urgent debates of Canada's 21st century. Laurier asks the question, What is a Canadian? And answers it.
"I am not French. I am not English. Je suis Canadien." -Sir Wilfrid Laurier