Finalist 2017-18

Colleen Murphy

Play: The Breathing Hole


Synopsis: The Breathing Hole is a 500-year saga that follows a polar bear named Angu’juaq, from his entry into an Inuit community in the 16th century, through an encounter with the Franklin Expedition in the mid 19th century, to an emotional conclusion: a meeting with a 21st century cruise ship navigating the Northwest Passage in a world now ravaged by climate change.

Cast Breakdown: 18 to 22 Actors

Act I
Huumittuq (Huum-mit-tuq) 45 and 61, a widow
Mannilaq (Man-ni-laq) 35 and 51, wife of Nukilik
Nukilik (Nu-ki-lik) 30 and 46, husband of Mannilaq
Higguk (Hig-guk) 30 and 46, husband of Ipruq (Ip-ruq)
Ipruq (Ip-ruq) 35 and 51, wife of Higguk
Avinngaq (Avin-ngaq) 30 and 46, Angakkuq (shaman)
Qiluniq (Qi-lu-niq) 10 and 26, son of Mannilaq and Nukilik
Atugauq (Atu-gauq) 8 and 24, daughter of Ipruq and Higguk
Angu’juaq (An-gu’-juaq) Polar bear
Panik (Pa-nik) Polar bear

Act II
Wickers early 20’s, Midshipman
Bean early 20’s, Midshipman’s Mate
Sir John Franklin 59 and 61, Expedition Commander
James Holloway mid 20’s, 2nd Commander of the Erebus
Carter early 20’s, Boatswain
Ajjiaq (Aj-jiaq) 20’s Hunter
Panigayak (Pa-ni-ga-yak) 30’s Hunter
Oliver Morshead 50 and 52, Chief Engineer and Ice Master
Crew #1 and #2 of the Erebus
Angu’juaq (An-gu’-juaq) Polar bear
Panik (Pa-nik) Polar bear

Matson Day late 20’s, Entrepreneur (female)
Shen Young late 20’s, Entrepreneur (male)
Qi’ngatuq Donoghue (Qi’-ngaq-tuk) 30’s, Biologist
Félix Bonnière 30’s, Zoologist
Totalik (To-ta-lik) 30’s, Security Guard at PanArtic Oil
Larkin (photographer), Roy and Melody (ad agency workers)
Passengers: Rivera, Mr & Mrs Griffith-Thomson, Lee, Hayden, Dufort and Ainsworth
Captain Matias, 50’s Captain of the Grande Hermine
Steward #1 and #2 on the Grande Hermine
Lucy 9
Marianne 49, Lucy’s grandmother
Angu’juaq (An-gu’-juaq) Polar bear

Set/Costume Requirements: A single location set centered around a ‘hole’. A sense of the Arctic region can be achieved with creative use of backdrop, painting and lighting. Costumes require authentic patterns and tattoos for the Inuit characters, 19th century navel dress for the British officers and sailors, and anything goes for the mid-21st century.


Agent: Michael Petrasek, Kensington Literary Representation,

Play Service: The Breathing Hole will be published in early 2019 by Playwrights Canada Press Manuscript is currently available through agent.

Bio: Colleen Murphy is a two-time Governor General Literary Award Winner for Drama. In 2016 she won for her play Pig Girl, and in 2007 she won for The December Man (L’homme de décembre). Twice she has won the Carol Bolt Award for Best Play. In 2017, Colleen had four world premieres in Canada including The Breathing Hole at the Stratford Festival, Oksana G. at Tapestry Opera in Toronto (composer, Aaron Gervais), and The Society For The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius at Rumble Theatre in Vancouver.
Other plays include I Hope My Heart Burns First, Armstrong’s War, The Goodnight Bird, Beating Heart Cadaver and The Piper. Other libretti include My Mouth On Your Heart (composer, August Murphy-King). She is also a filmmaker and her distinct, award-winning films have played in festivals around the world.
Colleen has been Playwright-in-Residence at Finborough Theatre in London, U.K., Necessary Angel Theatre and Factory Theatre in Toronto. She has been Writer in Residence at the University of Regina, McMaster University, the University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, the Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta, and is currently Writer in Residence at the University of New Brunswick.

Bruce Hunter (Angu’juaq, the bear), Jani Lauzon (Huumittuq)
and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings (Paniq, the bear).

Photograph by Itai Erdal. Stratford Festival, Summer 2017, Stratford, Ontario, Canada
(l-r) Miali Buscemi (Mannilaq), Nick Nahwagahbow (Qiluniq) , Johnny Issaluk (Nikiluk),
Gordon Patrick White (Higguk), and Ujarneq Fleischer (Avinngaq) at the Stratford Festival, 2017.

Photograph by Cylla von Tiedemann. Stratford Festival, Summer 2017, Stratford, Ontario, Canada

(l-r) Thomas Mitchell Barnet (Bean), Jamie Mac (Wickers), Zlatomier Moldovanski (Carter),
Randy Hughson (Sir John Franklin), Jim Codrington (Holloway) Photograph by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Stratford Festival, Summer 2017, Stratford, Ontario, Canada