Vol. 21 No. 1 Spring/ Printemps 2000

Lill in Review: A Working Bibliography

Shelley Newman and Sherrill Grace

In this working bibliography for Canadian playwright Wendy Lill, the authors have listed all the primary and secondary work they could locate up to December 2000. Lill has created a substantial body of work that has received professional production but little critical analysis to date. It is hoped that this bibliography will facilitate such analysis.

Dans cette bibliographie provisoire sur l'oeuvre de la dramaturge canadienne Wendy Lill, les auteures ont mentionné tous les textes primaires et secondaires qu'elles ont pu repérer jusqu'en décembre 2000. L'oeuvre importante que Lill a créée a été souvent mise en scène au théâtre professionnel. Elle n'a reçu cependant à ce jour que peu d'attention critique. Cette bibliographie doit encourager de façon importante les analyses qui s'imposent.

For a playwright with eight major stage plays to her credit, many awards, and numerous other achievements, it comes as something of a surprise to realize that Wendy Lill has still not received much serious, critical attention. There have been some interviews and the expected reviews of productions, but, to date, only a few scholarly articles--four to be exact (by Anderson et al, Bennett, and Perkins)--and one review of the critical response to her plays (Conolly) have appeared. All the other items are performance reviews, brief introductions, or passing mentions.

Although Lill began writing for the stage in the early 80s, her work did not attract scholarly attention until the 90s, but this is, of course, only one measure of her success, or of the attention her work has attracted. Before writing her first stageplay, On the Line, Lill wrote full-time for CBC radio and won ACTRA awards for her documentary Who is George Forest? and for her radio play Shorthanded in 1981. Seven plays later, with The Glace Bay Miners' Museum, Lill once more wrote for radio and only later developed the subject into the full-scale stage version that was published in 1996. Between 1986 and 1991, she wrote a screenplay Ikwe, which won a Golden Sheaf Award in 1986, and adapted Sisters for television, this time receiving a Gemini nomination for Best Performing Arts Program in 1991. (1) Four of her plays have been nominated for Governor General's Awards--The Occupation of Heather Rose, All Fall Down, The Glace Bay Miners' Museum, and Corker--;Heather Rose has been published three times (in two different versions) and produced across Canada, from the Yukon to Newfoundland, and in Scotland, Denmark, and Germany.

Wendy Lill, in short, is an accomplished playwright with a substantial oeuvre. Her plays have sparked debate, criticism, and hasty categorization, but they have never passed, in performance, without notice. They have been described as documentary, as social realist, and as thesis plays. But such classifications are only a bare beginning; what is needed now is a critical assessment of her oeuvre. Lill has a vision of contemporary society and of human nature that is at once deeply ethical and morally complex. She asks us to feel and to think, and she does this in language and dramatic structures that will reward sustained analysis. The following bibliography is offered as a modest contribution to the study of an interesting and challenging body of work; it marks a small beginning and an invitation to an on-going critical dialogue with an important writer. (2)Primary Sources:


Lill, Wendy. On The Line. [Unpublished.] 1982.

_____. The Fighting Days. Canadian Theatre Review 42 Spring (1985): 77-119.

_____. The Fighting Days. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1985.

_____. The Occupation of Heather Rose. NeWest Plays by Women. Eds. Dianne Bessai and Don Kerr. Edmonton: NeWest, 1987. 63-94.

_____. The Occupation of Heather Rose. Staging the North: 12 Canadian Plays. Eds. S. Grace, E. D'Aeth, and L. Chalykoff. Toronto: Playwrights Canada P, 1999.

_____. The Occupation of Heather Rose. Modern Canadian Plays. Vol.2. 3rd Ed. Rev. Ed. Jerry Wasserman. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1994. 173-86.

_____. Memories of You. Toronto: Summerhill P, 1989.

_____. Sisters. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991.

_____. All Fall Down. Excerpt. The Best Men's Stage Monologues of 1993. Ed. Jocelyn A. Beard. Newbury, Vt.: Smith and Kraus, 1993. 5.

_____. All Fall Down. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1994.

_____. The Glace Bay Miners' Museum. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1996.

_____. The Glace Bay Miners' Museum. Australasian Drama Studies 29 October (1996): 115-54.

_____. Corker. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1998.

Radio Documentary (3)

Lill, Wendy. "Childless by Choice." CBC. 1980.

_____. "Who is George Forest?" CBC. 1981.

_____. "The Hard Years." Manitoba School Broadcast. 1982.

_____. "Stepfamilies." CBC. 1982.

_____. "Many Solitudes." Manitoba School Broadcast. [n.d.].

_____. "Métis Anoutch." CBC. [n.d.].

_____. "The Native Urban Immigration." CBC. [n.d.].

Radio Drama

Lill, Wendy. "Shorthanded." CBC drama. 1981.

_____. "The Occupation of Heather Rose." CBC Morningside. 1989.

_____. "The Fighting Days." CBC Morningside. 1990.

_____. "Glace Bay Miners' Museum." CBC Sunday Matinée. 1991.

_____. "Burden of Desire." Adaptation. Robert MacNeil's Burden of Desire. CBC Stereo Theatre. 1992.

_____. "We All Fall Down." CBC Stereo Theatre. [n.d.].

Television / Video / Film

Lill, Wendy. "Ikwe (Daughters of the Country)." NFB. 1986.

_____. "Illuminated Lives." Animation narration. NFB. Montreal. 1989.

_____. "Sisters." Stage on Screen Series. Primedia Productions. 1991.

_____. "Passage of The Heart." Stage on Screen Series. Primedia Productions. 1992.

_____. "Silent Rumours." Triad Productions. NFB. CBC. 1993.

_____. "The Val Orlikow Story." Merit Productions. NFB. Telefilm. 1993.

_____. "Mi'kmaq Family." With Catherine Anne Martin and Shelagh Mackenzie. NFB. 1994.

_____. "Caught in the Middle." Manitoba School Broadcast. [n.d.].

_____. "Hudson Bay Lowlands." Manitoba School Broadcast. [n.d.].

_____. "The Boreal Forest." Manitoba School Broadcast. [n.d.].


Lill, Wendy. "Celebrating Sam's Birth." Herizons 4:8 (December 1986): 20-22.

_____. "Playwrighting Politician." Theatre Memoirs: on the occasion of the Canadian Theatre Conference. May 21-23, 1998. Toronto: Playwrights Union of Canada, 1998. 66-68.


Lill, Wendy. "Playwright on the Hill: Creativity and the Public Good." Munro Beattie Lecture, 1998-99. Carleton University, Ottawa. 12 Feb. 1999.

Secondary Sources:


Bowes, Nancy. "Playwright in Parliament." Atlantic Books Today 18 (Fall 1997): 5-6.

Enright, Robert. "The Explorer of Human Emotions: An Interview with Wendy Lill." Border Crossings 10:1 (January 1991): 12-17.

Mitchell, Nick. "A Feeling for Our History: An Interview with Wendy Lill." Prairie Fire 11:1 (1985): 16-19.

Rudakoff, Judith, and Rita Much, eds. "Interview with Wendy Lill." Fair Play: 12 Women Speak: Conversations with Canadian Women Playwrights. Toronto: Simon and Pierre, 1990. 37-48.

Walton, Glen. "Lill Women / Lill Men: Glen Walton Interviews Playwright / M. P. Wendy Lill." Arts Atlantic. 16:2 (Fall/Winter 1998): 41-43.

Wasserman, Jerry. "Video conference interview with Wendy Lill, Playwright and Member of Parliament." Departments of English, Theatre, Film, and Creative Writing. UBC. October, 1998.

Reviews / Biography

Adilman, Sid. "CBC mines motherlode of fiction." Toronto Star 21 Feb.1994: C5.

Anderson, Joan, Sherrill Grace, Gabrielle Helms, Matt James, and Paddy Rodney. "Women Speaking: The Occupation of Heather Rose and the Culture of Health Care." Northern Parallels. Eds. Shauna McLaron and Douglas Nord. Prince George: UNBC P, 1997. 84-101.

Ball, Jennifer. "For whom the bell tolls: Wendy Lill goes underground." Ottawa Express 26 Feb. 1998: 11.

Barnard, Elissa. "The Occupation of Heather Rose full of wit, vivid imagery, poignancy." Halifax Mail-Star 5 May 1993: A14.

_____. "All Fall Down Lill's latest hot potato." Halifax Chronicle Herald/Mail Star 11 Feb. 1994: A11.

_____. "Dartmouth playwright nominated for Governor General's award." Halifax Chronicle Herald 8 Oct. 1996: A10.

_____. "Political playwright." Halifax Chronicle Herald 14 Feb. 1998: C11.

Barton, Bruce. "Too distant voices: the publishing of dramatic texts in the Maritimes." Canadian Theatre Review (Spring 1999): 4-8.

Bennett, Susan. "The Occupation of Wendy Lill: Canadian Women's Voices." Women on the Canadian Stage: The Legacy of Hrotsvit Ed. Rita Much. Winnipeg: Blizzard P, 1992. 69-80.

_____. "Sisters by Wendy Lill." Canadian Theatre Review 75 (Summer 1993): 82-83.

Bergman, Brian. "Enter stage left: an MP's plays are fueled by a social conscience." Maclean's Toronto Edition. 111:7 February 16 (1998): 61.

Bessai, Diane. "Introduction." NeWest Plays by Women. Eds. Diane Bessai and Don Kerr. Edmonton: NeWest P, 1987. vii-xvii.

Birnie, Peter. "Injustice at Indian schools portrayed cleverly by Lill: Oddly Sisters lacks a single Indian character." Vancouver Sun 3 Nov. 1997: B9.

Bolt, Carol. " Rotters and Cads." Books in Canada March (1990): 37-38.

"Canada Council for the Arts Announces Nominees for the 1999 Governor General's Literary Awards." Canadian Corporate Newswire. 19 Oct. 1999.

Canadian Press. "Show based on Prairie suffragette." Calgary Herald 27 June 1984: F15.

_____. "Fiery feminist heats up history." Globe and Mail [Toronto] 4 July 1984: M 11.

_____. "French language nominees." London Free Press 20 Oct. 1999: C11.

Carson, Neil. "Looking Backward." Canadian Literature 136 Spring (1993): 134-36.

Colbourn, John. "Story of miner's daughter is a gem." Toronto Sun 22 Nov.1999: 47.

Conlogue, Ray. "Fighting Days a frustrating near-miss." Globe and Mail [Toronto] 15 Feb. 1985: E8.

_____. "Heather Rose built on shaky premise." Globe and Mail [Toronto] 20 Jan. 1988: C5.

Conolly, L. M. ed. "Wendy Lill: The Occupation of Heather Rose." Canadian Drama and the Critics Rev. ed. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1995. 324-30.

Crook, Barbara. "Playing with the truth." Vancouver Sun 29 Apr.1995: C7.

_____. "All Fall Down in new production next to Rhodes." Vancouver Sun 3 May 1995: C7.

Currie, Sheldon. "The Glace Bay Miners' Museum." The Antigonish Review 24 (Winter 1975): 35-53.

_____. The Glace Bay Miners' Museum. Breton Books: Wreck Cove, Cape Breton Island, 1995.

Devine, Michael. "The Glace Bay Miners' Museum." Canadian Theatre Review 96 (Fall 1998): 96-97

Di Cenzo, Maria. "Memories of You." Canadian Theatre Review 68 (Fall 1991): 94-95.

Donnelly, Pat. "Glace Bay Miners' Museum has the familiarity of kitchen sink." Montreal Gazette 28 Sept. 1996: E7.

_____. "Centaur play mines Cape Breton parable." Montreal Gazette 11 Oct. 1996: D10.

_____. "All Fall Down is potent drama on a shoestring." Montreal Gazette 25 Nov. 1996: C4.

Doruyter, Renee. "Child abuse is grim but not this play." Vancouver Province 3 May 1995: B5.

Downton, Dawn Rae. "Words, Words and Moving Pictures." Arts Atlantic 14:2 (1996): 42-43.

Dykk, Lloyd. "Heather Rose's tale masterfully told in Fringe reprise." Vancouver Sun 12 Apr. 1990: D12.

Enright, Robert. "My Memories of Lill." Border Crossings 8:1 (Winter 1988/89): 5.

Everett-Green, Robert. "Political playwright turns theatrical politico." Globe and Mail [Toronto] 14 Feb. 1998: C7.Fitzgerald, Judith. "Summerhill launches a dramatic season." Performing Arts in Canada 26:2 (Summer 1990): 33-34.

Flynn, J. "Fascination of The Obomination." NeWest Review 11 (April 1986): 19.

Forsyth, Louise H. "Feminist Theatre," The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre. Eds. Eugene Benson and L.W. Conolly. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1989. 203-6.

Fraser, Paul. "Moral panic in modern times: Dartmouth playwright addresses controversial issue of child abuse." Halifax Daily News 11 Feb. 1994: 29.

Friedlander, Mira. "The Glace Bay Miners' Museum." Variety 6 Dec.- 12 Dec. 1999: 94.

Garebian, Keith. "Fraught With Background." Books in Canada 27:4 (May 1998): 23-24.

Grace, Sherrill. "Wendy Lill: Introduction." Staging the North. Eds. S. Grace, E. D'Aeth, and L. Chalykoff. Toronto: Playwrights Canada P, 1999. 295-97.

Haag, Stephan. "Apocalyptic (Re)Visions." Canadian Literature 158 (Autumn 1998): 153-55.

Hall, Steve. "Tokens, targets and rabble rousers." Atlantic Progress 5:3 (May 1998): 96-100.

_____. "Corker." Canadian Theatre Review 99 (Summer 1999): 92-93.

Heald, Susan. "Wendy Lill and the Politics of Memory." Canadian Dimension 29:2 (April/May 1995): 54-56.

Hood, Sarah B. "Sisters." Theatrum 28 (April/May 1992): 31.

Hunt, Nigel. "Sisters." Quill and Quire 58:2 (February 1992): 27.

Hutchinson, Ann M. "The Fighting Days." Canadian Women's Studies 8:3 (Fall 1987): 96-98.

Inwood, Damian. "Sisters is a bit like purgatory." Vancouver Province 3 Nov. 1997: B9.

Jansen, Ann. "Dramatic Histories." Books in Canada 21:1 (February 1992): 28-29.

Johnson, Chris. "The Fighting Days and the Problem of Goodness." Arts Manitoba 3 (Summer 1984): 37-38.

Kennedy, Janice. "The literary parliamentarian: Thrice nominated for the Governor General's Award, playwright Wendy Lill says becoming an MP was not that much of a stretch." Ottawa Citizen 23 Feb.1998: E1.

_____. "Glace Bay Miners' Museum strong, stirring - right on!" Ottawa Citizen 27 Feb. 1998: E5.

Kirchoff, H. J. "No pat answers in powerful script." Globe and Mail [Toronto] 14 Feb. 1993: A11.

Kimber, Stephen. "The whole truth: Playwright Wendy Lill lives the way she writes: no copping out, no sugar-coating." Halifax Daily News 19 Dec. 1994: 4.

Knelman, Martin. "Francis: a fascinating new play sheds light on a feminist crusader." Saturday Night 100 (February 1985): 45-46.

"Literary MP to deliver Munro Beattie Lecture." This is Carleton 1:3 4 Feb. 1999: 3.

Mahoney, Michael, and Meredith Ralston, Dirs. Wendy Lill: Playwright in Parliament. Prod. Charlie Doucette, and Kent Martin. NFB, 1999.

Majka, Christopher. "Wendy Lill writes script for the political stage." Globe and Mail [Toronto] 17 Nov. 1999: C4.

Matheson, Sue. "Heather's Tale." Western Report. 1 March 24 (1986): 49.

MacDonald, Laura E. "Wendy Lill: the Parliamentary Playwright." In 2 Print (Summer 1998): 26-27.

MacDonald, Reg Foley. "It's a Corker of a play: Eastern Front returns to form with Wendy Lill's latest." Halifax Daily News 22 Feb. 1998: 41.

_____. "Miner's Museum all grown up now: Practice has made perfect with this tragic mining play." Halifax Daily News 9 Mar.1997: 49.

_____. "Lill's stage museum a triumph." Halifax Daily News 22 Sept. 1995: 31.

McCaw, Kim. "Introduction to The Fighting Days." Canadian Theatre Review 42 (Spring 1985): 74-76.

McNeil, Lisa. "Beattie lecturer discussed recent work, writers in society and media monopolization." This is Carleton 1: 5 4 Mar. 1999: 3.

McNulty, Jim. "The curious career of Wendy Lill: Playwright turned politician discovers the new national stage." Vancouver Province 19 July 1998: A47.

Metcalfe, Robin. "Letters Out." Books in Canada (March 1990): 21-24.

Mietkiewicz, Henry. "Author's wry humor fends off melodrama." Toronto Sun 20 Jan.1988: D4. Morrow, Martin. "Pioneering feminists could use a little humour." Calgary Herald 9 Apr. 1998: B13.

Pederson, Andy. "Playwright mines Cape Breton story." Halifax Daily News 11 Aug. 1995: 29.

Pederson, Stephen. "Lill's play digs deep into miner's lives." Halifax Chronicle Herald 11 Aug. 1995: A9.

Perkins, Don. "Revisionary Drama: A Study of the Contemporary Canadian History Play."

Diss. University of Alberta, 1993.

_____. "Dramatizing Canada's 'Regions of Shared Anxiety.'" Diverse Landscapes: Re-Reading Place Across Cultures in Contemporary Canadian Writing. Eds. Karin Beeler and Dee Horne. Selected Proceedings of the Inter-National Regions Conference. Prince George: UNBC P, 1996. 28-35.

_____. "Necessary Adjustments: The Problem of Community Solidarity in Paper Wheat, The Fighting Days, and The Shipbuilder." Prairie Forum 21:1 (Spring 1996): 43-53.

"Political passions come alive in documentaries." Halifax Daily Chronicle 12 Nov. 1999: D2.

"Politics is like writing a play, only slower: Wendy Lill." National Post 12 Nov. 1999: D2.

Redwood, David. "Political Drama: Dartmouth MP Writes a Corker of a Play." Atlantic Progress 5:4 (June/July 1998): 14-15.

Robb, Peter. "On the political stage: A profile of the artist in one act." Ottawa Citizen 19 Oct.1997: D10.

Robson, Barbara. "Play recalls forgotten feminist." Winnipeg Free Press 14 Mar. 1984: 43.

Sherman, Jason. "Tremblay and Lill." Quill and Quire 62:12 (December 1996): 32.

Shojania, Moti. "Shakespeare's Western Sisters: NeWest Plays by Women." Prairie Fire 11: 4 (Winter 1990): 109-13.

Skene, Reg. "Memories of You." NeWest Review (December/January 1989): 52-53.

_____. "Nurse's journey related with dramatic effect." Winnipeg Free Press 28 Feb. 1988: 34.

Smith, Doug. "Writer in Non-Residence." NeWest Review 14 (April/May 1989): 52-54.

Smulders, Marilyn. "Dartmouth playwright in the running." Halifax Daily News 18 Oct. 1996: 31.

_____. "Rage against the machine: Real-life labor unrest in Cape Breton brings colliery play into sharp focus." Halifax Daily News 7 Mar. 1997: 29.

_____. "Key Players: Wendy Lill." Halifax Daily News 7 Mar. 1997: 30.

_____. "Never quiet on the Eastern Front: Dartmouth theatre unveils big plans for its new season." Halifax Daily News 10 Sept. 1997: 27.

Staff and Canadian Press. "N.S. residents nominated for literary awards." Halifax Chronicle

Herald 13 Jan. 1988: 1E.

Stoffman, Judy. "67 finalists in running for literary prize." Toronto Star 20 Oct. 1999: F1.

Sweet, Lois. "Play probes the feminism-pacifism battle." Toronto Star 25 Feb. 1985: D1.

Swick, David. "Eloquent plea from Lill on the value of literacy." Halifax Daily News 1 Dec. 1997: 2.

Turner, Gordon. "Author finds nobility in harsh reality of reserve life." Weekend Sun [Vancouver] 28 Jan. 1985: D1.

Wagner, Colleen. "Corker." Fiddlehead. 202 (Winter1999): 115-17.

Wagner, Vit. "Play probes our cruel judgements (of Elizabeth Smart)." Toronto Star 25 Apr. 1989: C2.

_____. "MP used to all sorts of drama." Toronto Star 13 Nov.1999: J19.

_____. "Note-perfect performance saves a shallow, flawed script." Toronto Star 23 Nov. 1999: D8.

Wasserman, Jerry. "Drama." University of Toronto Quarterly 58:1 (Fall 1988): 60-76.

______. "Drama." University of Toronto Quarterly 62:1 (1992): 78-93.

______. "Wendy Lill: Introduction and Bibliography." Modern Canadian Plays. Vol. 2. 3rd Ed. Rev. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1994. 169-71, 364-65.

Wasserman, Jerry. "Darkness, gloom and amazing grace: Canadian drama in the '90s." Vancouver Sun 11 Jan. 1997: F8.

"Wendy Lill." Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia Online. 30 Nov. 00. <http://www.canadiantheatre.com/lillw.html>

Williamson, Kevin. "Rose blooms in sad tale." Edmonton Sun 20 Aug. 1999: F3.Winsor, Hugh. "Playwright politician poses key question." Globe and Mail [Toronto] 5 Feb. 1999: A10.

"Word from the hill." Ottawa Sun 24 Oct. 1999: C7.

Wyman, Max. "Magnificence Preserved in Heather Rose." Vancouver Province 19 Apr. 1990: 59.

Younger-Lewis, Greg. "GCTC tosses snobbery to the wind." The Charlatan 6 Mar. 1998: 26.

Zimmerman, Cynthia. "Wendy Lill." The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Eds. Eugene Benson and William Toye. 2nd ed. Toronto: Oxford UP. 1997. 657.

_____. "Letters in Canada." University of Toronto Quarterly. 69:1 (Winter 1999/2000): 81-104.


1. See Jerry Wasserman's introduction to Lill in Modern Canadian Plays, Volume II. Vancouver: Talon, 1994. 169-171.
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2. We would like to thank Kathy Chung, Don Perkins, Jerry Wasserman, and the readers for TRIC for their help with this bibliography. The bibliography has been updated to December 2000.
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3. Information on unpublished works provided by Wendy Lill.
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