If We Were Birds 

By Erin Shields
Fall 2013, at the Centaur Theatre, part of the Brave New Looks series

Photo credit: Tristan Brand

Winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama
Nominated for 9 METAwards
Winner of a METAward for Outstanding Professional Production and for Outstanding Sound Design (Peter Cerone)

If We Were Birds was truly rewarding. The brilliance of the aesthetic experience—the lights, sound and set—was matched perfectly with the beauty and horror of the story it told.
— The Link
[A] gripping piece. The whole cast dazzles in this intense and disturbing production. The vibrant, nightmarish set and the creepy, ethereal chorus complete the experience…
— Bloody Underrated
Ordinarily wild horses couldn’t get me to sit through the horror of such subject matter, and this is where Micheline Chevrier casts her inimitable spell. The stories are woven with such a delicate mixture of movement and music that they have a mesmerizing effect on the audience…
— Rover Arts

About If We Were Birds

If We Were Birds is a brave and ingenious adaptation of Book 6 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, featuring a chorus of women, each a survivor of a 20th Century conflict. Winner of the 2011 Governor General’s Award for Drama, If We Were Birds is a moving, funny and unsettling play that gives voice to women forced into silence through violence; an uncompromising examination of the transformative nature of revenge.

Cast: Lauryn Allman, Deena Aziz, Stefanie Buxton, Shiong-En Chan, Chip Chuipka, Nico Racicot, Amelia Sargisson, Clare Schapiro, Warona Setshwaelo 

Creative Team: Leslie Baker (Movement Coach), Peter Cerone (Sound Designer), Micheline Chevrier (Director), Danielle Desormeaux (Choral Director and Composer), Natasha Greenblatt (Assistant Director), Kate Hagemeyer (Assistant Stage Manager), Adam Provencher (Assistant Designer), Robert Thomson (Lighting Designer), Diana Uribe (Set and Costumes Designer)


“I am attracted to archetypal stories because they are the distilled versions of our contemporary stories. I knew I wanted to write about sexual violence, to try to better understand why this perpetual and gruesome act relentlessly occurs on a mass scale, particularly during times of war. A contemporary story didn’t seem to be a large enough container to hold this investigation. Ovid’s “Tereus, Philomela and Procne” presents a seemingly simple story about the dangers of following one’s passions, both in lust and revenge. The moral of the story is “don’t do it.” Inside of the framework of this story, I’ve been able to chew on the complexities of human passion and the dangers of forsaking the Dionysian reality of the body in favour of the Apollonian structure of the mind.”
— Erin Shields, If We Were Birds playwright