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In Absentia

In Absentia

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In Absentia

130 página
1 hora
Jan 29, 2013


Four seasons after her husband Tom’s disappearance, Colette remains emotionally paralyzed, isolated in a country cottage. She waits in anguish, not knowing whether he is dead or alive, but clinging to hope. A young stranger in a jean jacket waves to her from the frozen lake a sign? She emerges to give him her husband’s parka strangely, the boy has a likeness to Tom.

What is the stranger’s connection to her geologist husband, kidnapped more than a year before by leftist guerrillas in Colombia? How does this slyly seductive young stranger happen to show up at her home in rural Ontario, thousands of miles away? He seems to know more about Colette than he should, and as he slowly insinuates himself into her life, Colette’s attentive sister, Evelyn, and her helpful neighbor Bill become increasingly alarmed.

Part mystery, part moving story of vanished love, In Absentia explores the notion of disappearance, articulated in very personal terms. Through the tough, time-shifting action of the play, Colette reflects on her marriage and past love, offering rich associative memories while also uncovering the hidden and inaccessible that which is made to disappear from view.

Guilt and grief, infidelity and infertility, loss and longing are the deeper subjects Panych explores here. At the same time, the play examines the desire to make connections in life thoughts to deeds, intentions to outcomes in scenes often enlivened by the playwright’s trademark humor.

Cast of 3 men and 2 women.
Jan 29, 2013

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In Absentia - Morris Panych


Production History



Production Note



About the Playwright

Copyright Information

In Absentia was first produced on January 31, 2012, at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre with the following cast and creative team:

COLETTE: Jillian Fargey

EVELYN: Susan Glover

JASPER: Jade Hassouné

TOM: Paul Hopkins

BILL: Carlo Mestroni

Director : Roy Surette

Set and Costume Design: John C. Dinning

Lighting Design: Luc Prairie

Stage Manager: Melanie St-Jacques

Apprentice Stage Manager: Samantha Hogan

Assistant Director: Cameron Mackenzie


COLETTE McKENNY, an attractive thirty-eight-year-old woman

JASPER, a young man

TOM McKENNY, Colette’s husband

EVELYN, Colette’s older sister

BILL, forty-something, a neighbour


The play takes place in the imagination – Colette’s imagination, which includes memory, dreams, and hallucinations. In reality, the scenes happen in and around an upscale cottage on a lake, but ­naturalism should be kept to a minimum, as this will upset the dream-like, constantly drifting tone of the piece and take it out of its own milieu, which is the mind.


Characters and scenes will appear and disappear as trains of thought, like drifting snow on a lake; the piece is constantly in ­motion. Changes of tone or shifts in time or location are variously noted by a typographic ornament, a stage direction, or the arrival or departure of a character. In production this is accomplished largely through lighting changes and stage positions. There is ­simultaneous action throughout the play. The arrival and departure of characters should surprise us, but at the same time seem perfectly natural, as in a dream.

Tom, it should be noted, is visible only to Colette, and she often ­addresses him in the midst of dialogue with the other characters. Jasper, Evelyn, and Bill often remain onstage during the Colette and Tom sequences, but do not take part in them; instead, they go about their own business.


Lights up on COLETTE and JASPER. TOM stands at a distance.

TOM: You didn’t come down to the tree today.

COLETTE chooses to ignore him. Instead, she speaks to JASPER, who is trying to warm up his hands.

COLETTE: People love to swim out to that little island in the summer months. There’s a pergola somebody built – I don’t know who – covered over with trumpet vines. Apparently somebody owns the place, but nobody around here seems to know who it is. You can walk out there now on the ice.

JASPER: Not really an island, then.

COLETTE: Not if you can walk to it, no.


JASPER: I missed last winter entirely.

COLETTE: Well, I’m jealous.

JASPER: Stayed right out of the hemisphere.

COLETTE: I hate winter, especially this one.


COLETTE: It’s hard to believe anything will ever come alive again.

JASPER: Then, suddenly, everything comes back.

COLETTE: Not always.

JASPER: I like the seasons; I missed them when I was away.

COLETTE: How are your fingers now?

JASPER: The blood’s mostly come back.

COLETTE: I have terrible circulation, even in the summer. When I go swimming, the blood goes right out of my fingers. I look like a dead person. Mind you, I’ve never seen a dead person –


COLETTE: No. But when I look down at my hands sometimes, coming out of the water, I think, Oh, this is what I’ll look like. My goodness, I’m talking a lot.

JASPER: Let me see your hands.

He takes her hands and turns them over.

I knew a girl who read palms for a living.


COLETTE: Would you like some tea?

JASPER: Oh, I don’t drink tea, Mrs. McKenny. It gives me a weird indigestion. Do you have any blueberry pie at all?

COLETTE: Uh – no.

JASPER: That’s all right, then. When I was travelling, I always had a craving for blueberry pie.


It is funny what you miss the most.


JASPER: Like, you don’t know who you are until you step out of your life for a bit.

COLETTE: How did you know my last name?


JASPER: It’s on the mailbox outside?


Maybe I shouldn’t have knocked at your door. This is – an imposition.

COLETTE: No, no. I’m glad you did.

JASPER: I’m glad I did, too.

COLETTE: I saw you out on the lake, and I thought, My goodness, that poor young man, and I went out looking for you. I grabbed the parka and went out, but then I couldn’t see you anywhere. I don’t know what you were thinking, walking around in a jean jacket in this weather –

JASPER: I don’t know what I was thinking. Sometimes you don’t think.

COLETTE: Definitely the wrong hemisphere for that.

JASPER: It’s only March; you forget what it’s like.

COLETTE: How long have you been travelling?

JASPER: A while now. Quite a while now.

COLETTE: And you’re on your way home.

JASPER: Yeah, well, home is a relative term.


JASPER: I don’t think anybody misses me, where I’m from.

COLETTE: They must.

JASPER: Is this your husband’s parka?

COLETTE: Did I say I was married?



But this is not exactly a woman’s coat.

COLETTE: It’s my

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