This essay examines how in Doc and Fair Liberty's Call Sharon Pollock metaphorically places the father figure on trial for social injustice against his family. In these two New Brunswick plays Pollock makes use of the memory play structure to revisit the social crimes of Ev Chalmers and George Roberts. The memory structure allows multiple characters to revisit the family wrongdoings in their attempt to understand, defend, justify, and/or accept their past actions.

Dans cette étude de Doc et Fair Liberty's Call j'analyse la façon dont Sharon Pollock se sert d'un tribunal métaphorique pour accuser un père d'injustices sociales envers sa famille. Pollock utilise dans ces deux pièces du Nouveau- Brunswick une structure basée sur la dramatisation de la mémoire, structure qui se prête à la révision des crimes sociaux de Ev Chalmers et de George Roberts et qui permet à plusieurs personnages de revisiter les torts familiaux afin de comprendre, défendre, justifier, et/ou accepter leurs actions passées.

"Well you're not rememberin' right!" (Fair Liberty's Call 53)

In an interview with John Hofsess in 1980, Sharon Pollock mentions how she does not like looking back at her past in New Brunswick because it is "a ghost story" (60). However, the majority of Pollock's stage plays revisit and grapple with her personal past in Fredericton, and this is most evident in her two New Brunswick plays Doc and Fair Liberty's Call. Although there are many ways to investigate Pollock's public and private dramas, I have come to believe that at their heart lies the unresolved family issues that took place in her childhood years in New Brunswick. Pollock's workaholic father (a well-known Fredericton doctor) and alcoholic mother (who committed suicide when Pollock was sixteen) resurface in various forms in practically all of her socially conscious plays. During an interview with Judith Rudakoff and Rita Much, Pollock states that she is writing "the same play over and over again. It's a play about an individual who is directed to or compelled to follow a course of action of which he or she begins to examine the morality" (210). Jerry Wasserman concurs with her statement, but takes it one step further by asserting that the play she has been writing over and over again is "a play about fathers or father figures betraying the trust of those who depend on them" (Vol. 2 125). In this essay, I argue that the father figure in most of Pollock's plays is placed on trial for social injustice against his family. The metaphorical, rather than legal, trials that Ev Chalmers and George Roberts undergo in Doc and Fair Liberty's Call provide specific examples of Pollock's memory trials, a dramatic structure used in these two plays.

The term memory trial suggests that a character is put on trial (i.e. the father figure) for social injustice, and the evidence for the investigation is gathered from the memories of various characters. As Ann Saddlemyer has pointed out, Pollock reaches beyond the "simple 'whodunit' of the present to a reexamination of the past in an effort to determine the original crime. And in so doing fact becomes less important than fiction, style and form as persuasive as content" (216). The victims in Pollock's work are usually apparent to the audience, so the focus of the memory trials is on investigating and questioning who is the victimizer and, more importantly, what are the conditions and forces that could have generated the social crimes. Pollock's plays frequently re-examine unresolved violent acts from public history (the Borden murders, the Whitechapel murders, and the Waxhaws massacre, among others), yet the violence in her socially conscious plays is "but the foreplay to an internal trial" (Saddlemyer 216). Rather than focusing on theories of who committed a crime and shocking her audience with gory, graphic depictions of the public and domestic murders, Pollock's memory plays are moral investigations; most often at the centre of the dilemma is the father figure, and his immoral actions against his family become much more heinous than the violence narrated on stage.

In Canadian drama, several plays include trials on a political or domestic level. In fact, seven of the twelve plays in The Penguin Book of Modern Canadian Drama edited by Richard Plant deal with crime. George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe marks another example of a Canadian trial play or, in Gary Boire's words, a "mock-trial." Boire describes it as such because "it is the audience that ultimately emerges as the central defendant—the audience, whose history is placed on trial and judged guilty of imperialistic complicity at worst, ignorance at best" (Boire 10). Boire's comments echo those of Richard Knowles who suggests that for Pollock, the audience is "both nationally and individually responsible for what we are and what we have become" (240). The social issues raised in Pollock's work provoke audience members to re-examine their own moral decisions and their role as spectators is shifted to that of witnesses, even accomplices.

In addition to the trial structure, Pollock makes use of memory in the majority of her plays. I define the memory play as a dramatic work in which a portion of the action is set in a time previous to that established as the work's initial present time or "now", and the enacted scenes from the past are identified as the memories of at least one of the characters within the play1 . Pollock has experimented with different forms of memory plays over the last three decades, and Doc and Fair Liberty's Call challenge the traditional memory play model exemplified in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie and in Sheldon Currie's The Glace Bay Miners' Museum. Instead of having a single first-person rememberer, like Tom (Glass Menagerie) and Margaret (Glace Bay), Doc and Fair Liberty's Call make use of multiple first-person rememberers, so that the evidence gathered for the trial comes from more than one perspective, complicating the notion of a single truth. Most often the memories of the mother figure inform the accusations; whereas the memories of the father figure provide a defense. In both Doc and Fair Liberty's Call, the remembered scenes strongly suggest that the father figures are guilty of domestic neglect, so the trial examines the degree of their irresponsibility towards the family.

First produced by Theatre Calgary in 1984, and the recipient of a Governor General's award, Doc is Pollock's most personal play. As Cynthia Zimmerman points out, the "autobiographical aspect of the play is undisguised" (84). The central investigation in the play questions whether or not Ev should be held morally responsible for the death of his wife, Eloise Roberts (known as Bob in the play). His daughter, Catherine, believes that Ev's lack of responsibility to his family was a major factor in Bob's suicide. Through her remembered scenes, the audience witnesses how Ev neglected his family because of his commitment to his medical practice. The evidence gathered for Ev's moral trial stems primarily from the individual and shared memories "of the two present-time characters, Ev and Catherine, who are both remembering and commenting on the family past" (Bessai 135). Pollock's memory play strongly implies that Ev failed to listen to his wife's needs; however, whether or not he should be held fully responsible for her demise and eventual suicide remains debatable. Oscar (Ev's closest friend) and Bob figure prominently in Catherine's memories, and they provide ample evidence of Ev's domestic neglect. Ev's memories do not deny his lack of family responsibility, but his recollections highlight his dedication to his patients, which, according to him, should be weighed in a moral court. The remembered scenes provide other reasons for Bob's decline, aside from Ev's neglect: for example, Gramma's disapproval of Bob, Katie's hatred for her mother, and Bob's struggle to accept her role as doctor's wife collectively contribute to the suicide. And these factors should be taken into account in the trial.

Although she never physically appears on stage, Gramma's disapproval of Bob carries significant weight in the play. Ev's mother blamed Bob for the pregnancy, implying that she had caught her son "by the oldest trick in the book" (51). The marriage prevented her son from becoming a specialist, which, according to Bob, was something Gramma deeply desired (52). As a general practitioner, Ev dedicated himself to his practice and soon turned into a workaholic, which meant that Bob saw less and less of her husband. His dedication to his patients led him to the point where instead of being with his wife for the birth of Robbie, Ev was in Keswick trying to save "Frank Johnston's kid [who] fell under a thresher" (64). Ironically, Gramma's desire to see her son succeed in the medical profession results in his seeing less and less of her. She "is reduced to writing ... letters and crying ... on the phone" to Oscar because she never sees her son (89-90). This loneliness likely led her to her death on the train bridge.

Oscar's physical attraction to Bob and his role as "pseudo-husband" leads to a few intimate moments (122). Near the end of act one, the audience sees Bob and Oscar dancing to "Auld Lange Syne" and eventually kissing. This scene is remembered by Catherine and witnessed by Katie who "screams," and then "launches herself at OSCAR and BOB" (77). The intimate moment between Bob and Oscar widens the gap in the relationship between mother and daughter. And from that point onwards, Katie appears to lose both sympathy for Bob and respect for Oscar. She accuses her mother of being an irresponsible alcoholic, and she refuses to believe that her mother is sick: "You all say she's sick, she isn't sick ... She's a drunk and that's what we should say!" (119). Bob herself is no doubt partially responsible for her own unhappiness. The energy consumed by wallowing in self-pity and reminiscing about her ambitions prior to meeting Ev could have been channeled more productively. Catherine confronts her about remaining in the unhappy situation:

CATHERINE. Why couldn't you leave. Just leave!
BOB. Katie and Robbie.
CATHERINE. Did you care for them?
BOB. And your father? (94)

Unlike Oscar's mother, who "had the good sense to get out," Bob, like most women from her generation, stayed in the marriage and suffered the consequences (35). The issue of socially determined roles for women appears in several Pollock plays, and some of Pollock's women resist the roles they are placed in and attempt to construct their own. Most are unsuccessful and pay a high price for their transgressions, such as Lizzie in Blood Relations, Nell in Moving Pictures, and Sarah Anne Pictou in The Making of Warriors.

Ev's intense focus on his medical practice and his lack of support for his wife figure prominently in Bob's decline. Catherine's recollections of the past strongly suggest that Ev was an insensitive husband and father, and that he should be held morally responsible for his wife's decline. However, through Ev's memories, the audience sees the other side of Pollock's moral trial because his recollections defend his irresponsibility towards the family. In this sense, the memory trial weighs Ev's commitment to saving lives in his community against his irresponsibility to his family.

Ev recalls a heated debate he had with Oscar over who should be held responsible for Bob's death. Oscar strongly implies that Ev's neglect was the cause:

OSCAR. It shouldn't have happened.
EV. It did. (Closes the music box)
OSCAR. She asked for goddamn little and you couldn't even give her that [....] I could see it in my father, I can see it in you. You got your eye fixed on some goddamn horizon, and while you're striding towards that, you trample on every goddamn thing around you! [...]
EV. It was all my fault? (Oscar stops. Ev moves to him) Supposin' it were, her death my fault, put a figure on it, eh? Her death my fault on one side—and the other any old figure, thousand lives the figure—was that worth it? (Oscar exits) Was it? I'm askin' you a question! Was that worth it! (122-23)

This scene suggests that Ev admits he played a role in Bob's death; however, his reasoning indicates that the sacrifice needs to be examined in a larger context. If he is to be tried publicly, as well as personally, responsibility needs to be considered. According to Ev, the thousand lives he saved as a doctor outweigh his failure to support his family.

The first scene in act two has Catherine asking Ev the recurring moral question: "Was it worth it?" (79). He initially avoids the question, until Catherine clarifies it: "About Mummy" (80). At this point, Ev desperately seeks evidence to support his past actions, and he searches through the trunk for a photo of him and Valma in Minto with "[s]ix or seven kids standin'... outsida this Day Clinic" (80). Frustrated that he cannot find the photo, he tries to convince Catherine that his decision was anything but selfish: "I cared about those little kids! I looked into their faces, and I saw my own face when I was a kid ... was I wrong to do that? ... You tell me, was I wrong to do that!" (81).

In an earlier scene between Catherine and Ev, the same question arises. But this time, the responsibility for Bob's death is compounded by Gramma's death. The tension-filled scene begins with Ev holding onto the enigmatic letter from Gramma, which may provide the reason why she walked across the train bridge. Father and daughter argue over their lack of communication and Ev becomes defensive: "[Y]our father who gave his life to medicine because he believed in what he was doin' is an asshole!" (31). Trying to justify his commitment to medicine, Ev recalls the plight of his family to Catherine: "My whole family never had a pot to piss in, lived on porridge and molasses when I was a kid" (31). Not willing to let her father off the hook, Catherine indirectly asks Ev if he realizes to what extent he was responsible for both his wife's and mother's death:

CATHERINE. And it all comes down to you sitting up here alone with Gramma's letter!
EV. I am goin' through things.
CATHERINE. Why won't you open it?
EV. I know what it says. (32)

Catherine then grabs the unopened letter from Ev, and is about to open it. However, she doesn't and, instead, questions her father further:

CATHERINE. Did Gramma really walk out to meet it?
EV. It was an accident.
CATHERINE. What was Mummy?
EV. You blame me for that.
EV. It was all my fault, go on, say it, I know what you think.
CATHERINE. It was my fault. (32)

At this point, Catherine reveals why she came home to revisit the ghosts from her past. To a certain degree, she feels responsible for her mother's death, and her coming home involves confronting and then forgiving both her younger self as much as her father. As an adult, Catherine begins to understand her father's single-minded dedication to his profession because she, too, acknowledges that she has little time for a relationship. After all, "The work [... m]akes it hard" (28).

The most significant moment in the play, which suggests Catherine is willing to forgive her father and put an end to the memory trial, occurs in the final moments when father and daughter agree to burn the letter. This act of complicity can be read as freeing them both from past responsibilities; symbolically, the letter still gave voice to Gramma and Bob (Wasserman, Vol. 1 365). Furthermore, the burning of the letter allows them to purge the past in order to create a possible future. Nevertheless, the play does not wholly acquit Ev. Both father and daughter may have taken the easy way out. And in burning the letter, they can be accused of refusing to take responsibility.

The memory trial is more pervasive—thematically and structurally—in Fair Liberty's Call, which examines the Loyalist Settlement near present-day Fredericton, New Brunswick soon after the American Revolution. First produced in 1993 at the Stratford Festival, Fair Liberty's Call contains several memory trials, including the trial of the father figure, George Roberts. As in Ev's trial, the evidence for George's trial strongly suggests that he is guilty of domestic irresponsibility, to the point where he jeopardizes the lives of his family. His wife, Joan, goes mad rather than committing suicide. But like Bob, her victimization is largely the result of her husband's unsympathetic and onetrack mind. The moral investigation of George concerns his role and responsibility in the deaths of the two sons (Richard and Edward) and the sacrifices made by the daughters (Emily and Annie). Even though the victimizer, George, cannot be legally tried for these family sufferings, the evidence from the text provides ample reason to indict him in a moral court.

Four first-person rememberers gather the evidence for George's trial, and, as in Doc, most of the memories highlight the father's lack of responsibility for his family. Joan's memories, along with those of her two daughters, provide reasons to try George for immoral, wrongful, and selfish behavior. Like Ev, George defends his position and tries to explain his cause, despite receiving little support from his family. The case becomes one-sided and the evidence, provided by memories, sways the audience on the women's side. But George's change of heart near the end of the play problematizes what appears to be an easy verdict in the moral investigation.

The older daughter, Annie, remembers how "it was impossible for Richard to sit down at table with Father without havin' words, ugly words, and yet Richard believed lions could lie down with lambs, and he saw no contradiction in that" (67). On the other hand, George could not tolerate his eldest son espousing "separation and independence" (25), and in order to maintain his position and interest in "English Parliament" (25), as well as his upstanding status as a leading Loyalist merchant in Boston, he "drove Richard out"(24). While George tries to stifle the memory, Joan and Annie vividly recall the day Richard left:

ANNIE. I was there in the hallway.
GEORGE. Annie, please.
JOAN. And Em'ly and Edward at the top of the stairs and all of them watchin' their own father drive their own brother out, drive Richard out! And he went!
ANNIE. But he stopped.
JOAN. At the end of the walk. And he turned. Even then, I don't think he'd have gone, but his father, he slammed the door. (24)

Joan's memories express the pain of seeing Richard leave, and she holds her husband fully responsible for her son's departure. Richard's departure from home led to his eventual death while fighting with the Rebels. In the same scene, the women continue to remember and share more incriminating evidence against George. Annie describes how Richard was taken prisoner and "held in the Long Island Prison Ships." And Joan recalls how she urged her husband to use his political influence and go "to New York [to ask for] leniency for Richard," but he refused (25). George's moral crime against Richard involves Annie, who, in an effort to soothe her mother's pain, takes it upon herself to see Richard in prison: "I saw him once in the prison ship ... I made my way there. I offered somethin'. Them in charge wanted it. I gave it to them. It meant nothin' to me" (67). Unlike her father who feared "a tarrin'" and public humiliation, Annie sacrifices both her body and self-respect to see her brother and to help her mother (34). Joan recalls how Annie "lay on her back and she spread out her legs so she could see [Richard].... I begged [George], I begged him, but he wouldn't" (71). In refusing to go to the prison to plead for Richard's cause, George indirectly causes Annie's sexual sacrifice, as well as initiates his wife's decline into near madness. For his part, George offers little defense against these accusations nor any remorse for leading Richard to his death. To maintain his position and place in society, he felt compelled to get rid of his rebel son. This is exemplified when Major Williams sarcastically comments that what he "lacked was a son in the Rebel army," to which George responds, "I cut that boy out of my heart" (34).

In hopes of politically smoothing things out, George then sacrifices his younger son, Edward, by encouraging him to fight with the Loyalists. Once again, Joan accuses her husband of forcing their son to fight: "[H]e made him sign up! ... His father thought that was going to balance things out! Richard there ... one Rebel son, and then poor Edward, the Loyalist" (25). In response to being accused of coercing Edward to fight, George claims that "Edward would do what was right ... Do what he wanted" (24), and he "wanted to go!" (25). After Edward returns home from the massacre at Cherry Valley, he commits suicide because he is unable to deal with the bloody battle he experienced. Edward is soon buried and to protect the father's self-interests, the cross bares Emily's name, who was deemed to have died of "the smallpox" (24). Joan remembers that Emily then "picked up Edward's gun ... put on Edward's jacket, cut off her hair, joined the Legion, Tarleton's Loyalist Legion, Bloody Banastre Tarleton's Bloody Loyalist Legion! Because! Her father said!" (24). Emily transforms her identity and becomes Eddie, a Loyalist soldier, for the sake of her father. In his defense, George claims that Emily "wanted to do it! ... Because it was necessary" (24). However, a later exchange between father and daughter sheds light on how Eddie/Emily felt:

EDDIE. I went to war for you.
GEORGE. You know how that came about.
EDDIE. And here I am.
GEORGE. It was the only way.
EDDIE. That's what you said.
GEORGE. It wasn't just for me, it was for Annie and your mother.
EDDIE. What about Em'ly?
GEORGE. You wanted to go! You offered to go! How else were we to survive with the English down our throats 'cause of Richard, and the Rebels at out heels 'cause of me? Was you said you'd go, you said it!
EDDIE. I did. (73)

Eddie/Emily suggests that it was her decision to fight for the Loyalists, but her reason for doing it was to please her father. After experiencing the war, she cannot forgive her father for allowing her to literally kill Emily for his selfinterests. She was "willing to die" for her father then, but she is not willing to keep sacrificing herself for him now (73). In the play's present, she refuses to withhold her feelings about Major Williams and his corrupt Committee of Fifty-five, even though she realizes how her opposition may jeopardize her father's chances of obtaining land. Eddie/Emily is not willing to compromise her social responsibility, so she publicly challenges Williams by writing a "seditious and scandalous" (32) letter in the Gazette, as well as openly admitting that she killed Frank Taylor, a member of the Fifty-five (69). Despite Eddie/Emily's strong opposition to Williams' Committee, George still tries to profit from his daughter's military services in hopes of acquiring land, metaphorically prostituting his daughter for his self-interests. George's desperate desire to obtain land also provokes him to prostitute his other daughter, Annie, when he strongly suggests that she marry Major Williams: "Humour an old man, it's not such a bad idea. He's in thick with the Fifty-five, and they're the ones to be thick with if you want to thrive in this neck of the woods" (29).

The sacrifices George asks of his daughters, compounded with the deaths of Richard and Edward, have sent Joan into near madness. Similar to Ev, George has a domestic blind spot and neglects to notice (or simply does not care about) the pain he causes Joan by sacrificing their children. The loss of her children is combined with the loss of her home in Boston, and she explains in the opening segment how New Brunswick "is a barren place. This wasn't home, isn't home, is no place I know, no, no place I know" (20). In her effort to come to terms with her losses, Joan recalls the past through a collection of dissociated memories, and for most of the play she appears to be in a different world from the rest of the characters. Her memories serve to accuse her husband of neglect, but at the same time the remembering and re-articulating of the past appear to be therapeutic, enabling Joan to release some of the pain.

George's desire to regain his former position and acquire land in the new country blind him of his domestic responsibility. His irresponsibility towards his family has a strong impact on his wife's well being; however, near the end of the play the father appears to realize the pain his family suffered because of his material interests. Moments before the rebel Anderson will sacrifice Annie because the Loyalists men fail to decide who will be the scapegoat, George breaks down: "Choose me! I'm an old man! I can't pull my weight! I left my life in Boston and I turned my back . . . on my eldest son . . . I turned my back on Richard . . . and Edward, I . . . Choose me" (73). Although not a full apology, George's willingness to sacrifice himself for the other Loyalists, which includes his family, makes it clear that he finally begins to recognize his past mistakes.

The ending of the play, which pairs off the couples in a romantic comedy fashion, suggests that the family comes to some sort of agreement and is ready to move into the future. George's moral trial brings out plenty of evidence against him. But whether or not his willingness to sacrifice himself at the end of the play and apologize for past mistakes absolves him of his crime is overshadowed by the hopeful ending. When Joan notices "a small indentation in the dirt," Pollock appears to suggest that the barren place is habitable and the possibility for a new home exists (79). When the painful memories have been revisited and responsibility acknowledged, the family appears to be ready to accept and forgive past actions and live for the present and future. As in Doc, the survivors in Fair Liberty's Call appear to purge the past in order to live in a possible future. Instead of burning a letter, the Roberts family will cover up the past with the symbolic earth, despite knowing that underneath lie the bones of a tragic past.

Ev and George are both reluctant to accept responsibility for neglecting their families, yet the evidence against them makes it difficult to counteract. At the end of Doc, Ev does not express any true remorse for sacrificing his family, whereas with George, the text suggests that the father figure begins to accept the blame and appears ready to change. However, George's crimes are much more heinous than Ev's. He sacrificed the lives of his children to protect his material interests, whereas Ev's sacrifice was to save the lives of people in New Brunswick. It is worth noting that in both plays it is the women who come forward and provide the opportunity for forgiveness. Catherine accepts and forgives Ev's irresponsibility to his family, and Joan's, Annie's, and Emily/Eddy's actions allow George to partially redeem himself for his selfish acts. The women in the two plays symbolically burn and bury the social injustices inflicted by the father figure in their efforts to ensure "a better world for [their] children" (Fair Liberty's Call 75).



1. Several contemporary Canadian playwrights incorporate the memory play structure, yet scholarly research in the field of the memory play has just begun to emerge. I have only found one book length study of the memory play: Memory- Theatre and Postmodern Drama (1999) by Jeanette Malkin.
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