Richard Sanger



Mermaid Collective at Array Music, Toronto, August 2015.

A sonic theatre collaboration with singer Fides Krucker and composer Nik Beeson based on Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s story “The Professor and the Mermaid”.

“The first half-hour is full of pithy dialogue and big laughs, sometimes bawdy, sometimes political… Pastko and Gouveia are a hugely likeable pair, drawing us in inexorably via the charm of the writing and the quirky characters each of them brings to life for us.  They’re pulling us closer, to set up the scenario for the climactic set-piece..  We move into a realm that is ambiguous and unreal, and progressively more and more musical. …  as the Professor remembers and relives the ecstatic experiences of his youth—we are seeing it enacted and remembered. The experience is poised brilliantly on the edge between recollection and enactment, simultaneously in the present and the past, the Professor both young and old in the same moment….   This is one of the most sensitive portrayals of age & aging I’ve ever encountered…  DIVE is a spectacular new creation that deserves to be heard.”

Leslie Barcza, barczablog,  July 31, 2015

Dark Locks

Summerworks Performance Festival 2012, Toronto, August 2012, directed by Mary Francis Moore.

“A ripped-from-the-headlines take on the Shafia family murders, but–like a lake–it runs much deeper than we may assume….  Once it starts, you simply cannot look away.  Thought-provoking, compelling theatre with an excellent cast. Don’t miss it.”  Mike Anderson,

Grannie Didn’t Go to Florida

Cooking Fire Theatre Festival, Dufferin Grove Park, Toronto, June 20-24th, 2012,  directed by Leora Morris.

” Expertly blended comedy and chilling action in the tale of a family driving to Florida.”  NOW magazine.

 Whispering Pines

Great Canadian Theatre Company, Oct-Nov. 2011; commissioned and developed by Nightswimming; directed by Brian Quirt.

“A gripping tale with many a-ha moments”, Ottawa Citizen

Hannah’s Turn

Summerworks Festival 2011, August 2011, Toronto; co-written with Mark Migotti and directed by Mary Francis Moore.

“NNNN…   Three stellar performances anchor Mark Migotti and Richard Sanger’s intellectual speculation about Hannah Arendt’s relationship with philosopher and dabbling Nazi sympathizer Martin Heidegger”  Naomi Skwarna, NOW Magazine.

“Fascinating, moving and brilliantly performed”

“Permeated with intelligence…  The crispness of the play is wholly present and it never relaxes its grip”, Don Coles

Vavilov’s Seeds

developed and read at the Tarragon Theatre, 2006-2011;  Russian plant biologist Nikolai Vavilov (1887-1943), his quest to build the world’s biggest seed bank and the rivalry with a protegé that undoes him.

Some Mother

(unproduced)  Two mother-daughter encounters in Toronto a generation apart: 1970 and 2000.

Two Words for Snow  

Alberta Theatre Projects playRites Festival, January 1999, Calagary; revised version, Volcano Theatre, January 2003, Toronto; directed by Ross Manson.

“Two men meet in the Eskimo Room at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1935.  Robert Peary Jr. is young, white and brash.  He is there to protect the good name of his father, Robert Edwin Peary Sr. who in 1909 laid claim to the title of the first man to reach the North Pole.  Matthew Henson, who accompanied Peary on that journey and on eight previous Arctic expeditions, is old, black and full of regret.   Henson has just given a newspaper interview in which he claims that he, not Peary, was the first to reach the Pole.  Young Peary has come here to convince him, through pleas, bribery or blackmail, to retract the story.   Two Words for Snow, the new play by 1998 Governor-General’s Award nominee Richard Sanger, takes that single, imagined encounter and explodes it into a world—two or three worlds, really—of lies, death, betrayal and guilt.  What emerges from that explosion is a smart, powerful and deeply moving examination of colonialism at home and abroad, and the damage it does to colonized and colonizer alike.”  Chris Dafoe, The Globe and Mail

“As absorbing as any thriller…   Sanger writes like the poet he is, and his cool, reflective images fit both the geographical landscape and the emotional climate of his characters.” Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star

“An eloquent, moving piece of theatre…  Filled with a deep, quiet sorrow for the foolishness and tragedy of things long past.”
Martin Morrow, The Calgary Herald

“***** A superb piece of writing… a thrilling production…  the first must-see show of the year….  Through curator Franz Boas and Henson’s Inuit lover Akatingwah, Sanger questions distinctions between primitive and civilized.  Even as Sanger tells this compelling tale, he ponders the insignificance of such conquests that time and nature ultimately erase…   There may only be two words for snow in Inuktitut. The one word for this show is extraordinary.”
Christopher Hoile, eye magazine

“***** Deeply affecting…  A tale of friendship, love, betrayal and so much more.”
John Coulbourn, Toronto Sun

“Passionate and moving”
Robin Breon, Aisle Say

Not Spain

“Wonderfully poetic and dramatic, filled with intelligence, emotion, perception and surprise.” Vit Wagner, The Toronto Star

“Driven by a poet’s eye for vivid and revealing detail, Sanger’s compelling drama about the experience of war–from within and without–neatly contrasts the experiences of a Canadian journalist and a resident in a war-wracked city.  Sanger knows how to mould a metaphor into an original shape…  Full of unexpectedly resonant moments and haunting rhythms.”  Jill Lawless, NOW

“Very impressive…  A subtle, penetrating look at how westerners, particularly the media, deal emotionally with the world’s wars and crises.” Geoff Chapman, The Toronto Star

“Powerful and moving writing…  A pure concentrate of emotion… Sanger’s spare, unsentimental script makes us question and change our ways of looking at things.” Patricia Black, Scene Magazine

“The spareness and purity of Sanger’s language convey a powerful drama of how those who have been reduced to their most basic needs and those who are still privileged cannot communicate”
Governor-General’s Awards shortlist
citation 1998

“Finely-crafted…  A contemporary Brecht-like fable…  It shows how complex human situations become further distorted by attempts to render them as formulaic news stories.”
Kevin Burns, Quill and Quire