After the Fire & The Particulars

From the author of Bears comes two dark comedies that expose what we’re capable of when pushed to our breaking point and give in to the temptation of taking matters into our own hands.

Set in the aftermath of the disaster that nearly destroyed Fort McMurray in 2016, After the Fire centres around two couples whose lives have been deeply affected by the ruin. Sisters Laura and Carmell have been channelling their devastation into their daughters’ hockey team, as their Indigenous husbands Barry and Ty grapple with their own demons while digging a very big hole.

In The Particulars, a week’s worth of daily routines for an insomniac is disrupted by a mysterious home invasion. Gordon battles his invaders on two fronts—in his home, where he believes he is dealing with vermin, and in his yard, where insects have taken over his garden. By day, Gordon forges ahead, in control of every aspect of his life. But by night, the scratching he hears in his walls is unravelling him, driving him to the edge of cosmic desperation.

With sharp commentary, Matthew MacKenzie revels in the mundane struggles that disguise the cosmically profound surrounding us all.


Matthew MacKenzie

A citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Matthew MacKenzie is a multi-award-winning playwright from amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). Artistic Director of Punctuate! Theatre, Matthew is the founder and Artistic Associate with Pyretic Productions and Canadian Liaison of the Liberian Dance Troupe. Matthew has had nearly a dozen of his works produced across Turtle Island.


Jo-Ann Saddleback

Jo-Ann Saddleback is involved in many Indigenous arts initiatives, including advising artists and art groups. She is currently Elder-in-Residence for the Edmonton Public Library and supports, promotes, and helps to establish Indigenous writers, artists, filmmakers, and Knowledge Keepers.


Simon Bracken

Simon Bracken is a Canadian actor. Aside from playing Gordon on many occasions, his work includes performances with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Shakespeare in the Ruff, Coal Mine Theatre, and the Stratford Festival. He trained at the National Theatre School of Canada, and lives in Toronto. 


“[The Particulars is] smart, strange and stirring, in exactly the right ways.”

“The writing [in The Particulars] stands on its own—I like how our narrator speaks of himself in third person—and MacKenzie effectively brings the cyclical smallness of a life to life.”

“Moving and funny, audaciously strange . . . Suffice it to say that it’s as if Martin McDonagh took up writing the kind of Canadian family plays where revealing dark secrets of the past usually tends to be the way forward. Basically, [After the Fire] blows that Canuck m.o. into smithereens, while slyly seducing us into feeling its embrace.”

The Particulars entices you with its details, but it’s the exploration of life’s biggest mysteries that will break your heart.”

After the Fire may have one of the greatest surprise endings ever in a Canadian play—and certainly has one of the most Canadian surprise endings ever to a play . . . It is also good writing that alters your perception of all of the characters, the state of their relationships—and maybe Fort McMurray as well.”


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Excerpts & Samples ×

(Cosmic dissonance. LAURA stares up at the moon.)

LAURA The moon shines bright on Fort McMurray… the city that never stops working. Like a hockey game that keeps going and going.


When you’re coaching, what are you thinking.

(Short pause.)

CARMELL What do you mean.

(Short pause.)

LAURA Like when you’re speaking, and the girls are all listening.


CARMELL I’m thinking I want to beat the other team.

(Pause. LAURA shakes her head.)

LAURA I wouldn’t know what to say.


Ultimately, I’m thinking the same thing. But I wouldn’t know what to say.


CARMELL You coordinate dozens of volunteers and several employees.

LAURA That’s not the same thing.

(Short pause.)

That’s in the event of an emergency.


CARMELL Saving the lives of animals is more important than hockey.

(Short pause.)

LAURA But I’m responding.


I don’t lead an attack to eliminate the threat to those pets pre-emptively.


CARMELL There are different ways to lead.


LAURA What good are you doing, coordinating dozens of volunteers and several employees, when the world is burning and you tell them to leave.


CARMELL You had them take all the animals from the shelter and evacuate. That’s taking the lead.


LAURA Hundreds of pets died.

CARMELL You are not responsible for what happened to those other animals.

LAURA Then who is.

CARMELL No one is. The fire is.

LAURA But everyone got out. Eighty-thousand of us.

CARMELL Yes. It was miraculous.

LAURA Not for those pets…


CARMELL Calm, cool and collected; that’s all that’s expected.

LAURA I don’t think Nan was talking about situations like this.

CARMELL It’s a mantra, it extends to all situations.


LAURA Haley and Taryn are with Nan now.

(CARMELL nods.)

CARMELL Mom and Dad took them over with Declan to watch Spaceballs.


LAURA And we…

CARMELL We went to the game. We grabbed coffees. Then we went to BPs.

(Pause. LAURA shakes her head.)

LAURA I need to call Barry.

CARMELL We’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s not reception.

(LAURA goes to open her purse.)


(LAURA drops the purse—it lands with a thud. LAURA backs away from it.)

LAURA Oh sweet Christ—oh sweet Christ—

CARMELL Breathe.

(LAURA slowly pops a squat, trying to control her breathing.)

LAURA Should Declan be watching Spaceballs, he’s only six.

CARMELL Yes. It’s over his head.

LAURA Haley re-aggravated her groin injury, I should be with her, helping her stretch.

CARMELL After we’ve finished this.

LAURA It took her so long to recover the last time…

CARMELL She’s eleven, she’ll heal fine.

LAURA But hockey, hockey’s the only thing that makes her happy since we lost everything…

CARMELL We need to focus.

(CARMELL picks up the purse.)

We need to focus on getting rid of this purse and then getting to Boston Pizza.

(CARMELL pulls LAURA to her feet.)

Fishbowl Fridays.

(A whistle sounds in the distance.)

Shift change. Let’s go.

Reader Reviews



112 Pages
8.30in * 5.30in * .30in


May 02, 2023



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