If the content you are seeing is presented as unstyled HTML your browser is an older version that cannot support cascading style sheets. If you wish to upgrade your browser you may download Mozilla or Internet Explorer for Windows.

Karla and Grif

CTE photo
Vivienne Laxdal

Two-act drama premiered at the National Arts Centre, 1991, by Vivienne Laxdal, directed by Barbara Lysnes, and subsequently performed across Canada including at Centaur Theatre.

As a work of dramatic fiction it is not without its merit; as representations of Lesbians go, it is more than slightly controversial with its prissy woman loved by a knife-wielding "bull dyke".

The play was praised for its interesting story of a couple of women who have been friends since childhood. They experimented sexually. One, Karla, realized she was a Lesbian and in love with Grif. Grif, however, was not interested in continuing a sexual relationship and in a night of confusion, Karla holds Grif at knifepoint as they both try to sort out their feelings. Ray Conlogue, for the Globe and Mail, wrote, "If you're tired of seeing trendy nonsense about human sexulaity, do yourself a favour and see Karla and Grif. It was written by a real writer."

Had the work been merely a piece about friendship and how actions between very close friends can be misinterpreted, it might not have come under such close scrutiny or created such debate among Gay and Lesbian spectators and journalists. But it occured during a time when concepts surrounding the fluidity of sexuality were raging through the Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Bisexual community. Cy-Thea Sand, writing for Kinesis wrote, "Riveting...When the creative achievements for Laxdal are most potent, lesbian [sic] passion triumphs...I am thankful for theatre of this calibre and power." However, GaŽtan Charlebois of the Montreal Mirror wrote, "Laxdal gave an uppity interview to a local journalist and claimed that though she is a married woman with children she has the right to write about whatever she wants-even lesbians [sic]. I would not presume to disagree with her. It is her right! It is also her right to write about Martians and the face of God, as she knows as much about these things."

If only for opening the debate about depictions of this nature and who has the "right" to write them, the play is an important work in Canadian theatrical history.

Commentary by Gaetan Charlebois

Last updated 2014-05-09