Ravage of Life

By (author): Evelyne de la Chenelière

Translated by: Louise H. Forsyth

For three years, Evelyne de la Chenelière wrote on the long entrance wall in Montreal’s Espace GO as part of an artistic residency that would profoundly shake her outlook on words, theatre practice, and writing. The culmination of this is Ravage of Life, a bold departure from prevailing norms where the playwright breaks with written and performative conventions in her dramatization of an endless and multi-faceted instant between life and death.

In this experimental text, bits and pieces of a family’s realities unfold in a non-linear simultaneity that reflects with captivating irony the difficulties encountered when language is expected to facilitate communication.

Ravage of Life is a challenging invitation to eviscerate theatre and create a space where thought finds its body, freeing theatrical languages from grammatical constraints, logic, and structure in order to promise new theatrical experiences.


Evelyne de la Chenelière

Playwright and actor Evelyne de la Chenelière studied drama at École Michel-Granvale in Paris. She was the recipient of the 2006 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for her play Désordre public. Evelyne lives in Montreal.


Louise H. Forsyth

Louise H. Forsyth has always loved performance and theatre. As an amateur lover of the stage, she has acted, sung, danced, written, directed, produced, translated, stage managed, served as props manager, and hung out as much as she could as spectator. Woven into an amateur obsession with theatre has been her professional life, where she wrote two theses on the classic French writer of theatrical comedy, Molière, taught courses and supervised theses in theatre, drama, and dramatic literature, wrote scholarly studies about French and Québec playwrights, and theorized about acting and dramatic writing. Her areas of academic specialization are feminist performance and dramaturgy in Québec.

Along with her passion for what the women of Québec have written for theatre, she has been engaged for quite some time with developing theories of dramaturgy and acting au féminin, along with revealing the sources of tenacious sexism in the practices and conventions for doing theatre, for studyin


  • Prix Marcel Dubu00e9 2020, Winner
  • Governor Generalu2019s Literary Award for French Drama 2019, Nominated
  • Excerpts & Samples ×

    (this place despite everything)

    I’ll not put this world on trial, even if it mistreats us.
    I’ll not put this time on trial, even if it hustles us toward the fall.

    I’ll not put a system that assaults us on trial, I’ll not put a religion that blinds us on trial, I’ll not put an economy that assassinates, attacks, dries, smothers, grinds, drowns us on trial.

    I’ll not put life on trial, despite its fundamental inadequacy, nor our species, which does not cease hating itself.
    Anyway I’ll launch no trial; the world has enough of those who destroy,
    and I know only how to show the blows (and then).
    So what can I do? I who do not have the confidence of the troublemakers, to try to transmute what is real, to try to tear up my own ruts, to restrain what is dying, to flesh out time, to punch holes in impasses and see sense appear, perhaps, in its unstable beat?

    I chose, one day, to make a commitment despite everything to places that are theatres,
    And I chose to linger in this one so as to invite dreamers and to dream with them,
    So as to give more space to speech, more speech to speech.
    I chose to write on a long wall having the title I begin again, so as to recreate tirelessly and thus to converse infinitely with this world that never ceases to amaze me.

    Take the word ravage, for example.
    Still yesterday, it inspired in me only fear and destruction, ugliness and chaos.
    And then, one day, my country friend taught me that a ravage is also a place
    where the deer gather to face the rigours of winter.

    In winter, if you go for a walk in the forest, you might fall on a ravage, which you
    will recognise by the disturbance of the snow, by the many and mingled deer tracks,
    like the imprint of mysterious writing, And you will see that the ravage is protected by tall evergreens that wrap their long resinous arms around it. 

    The first time I saw a ravage I thought That’s what we need! A spot to survive the winters, a place despite everything, a refuge for beauty, a stopping place for what hides itself! A ravage! A ravage! We need a ravage!

    I thanked my country friend and I returned to the city.
    Ever since I begin again,

    And I hope, with you, to make a ravage out of this theatre.

    Reader Reviews



    144 Pages
    6.00in * 9.00in * .25in


    October 10, 2023



    Book Subjects:

    DRAMA / Women Authors

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