Identity and Displacement

            displaced by Natasha Martina and Sue Mythen is a dramatic performance about three women displaced from their homes by tumultuous events and the difficulties that befall them in their voyage towards a better life in Canada. The story is presented in an engaging manner meant to draw the audience into the characters struggles and create empathy for their plight. The play uses both visual and oral stimulus through both spoken text and movement to portray the story to the audience. Using this multi-modal format, the play aims to make the audience use their eyes and ears to connect to the story through actively listening to the character’s dialogue and through the visualization of the physical toll that the characters bodies have taken throughout their journey.

I believe that a play is a great way to showcase personal histories. The playwrights, Martina and Mythren, are using the stories of Mary, the Irish woman affected by the Irish Famine, Sofia, the German woman affected by the war, and Dara, the Afghani woman affected by Taliban rule, to tell the unpleasant history of the women who were displaced from their homes and emigrated to Canada. They portrayed the story in this way in order to get the viewer to think about how they treat other people who are considered “different” and to think about the ways in which where we are from affects how we are perceived. Although the majority of the accents within the play were fairly accurate representations of the peoples in which they were supposed to portray, there were some difficulties with the accents in the play that detracted from the value of the story. When the audience is too busy trying to decide if both characters are Irish, the message, meaning, and flow of the play is lost. However, the accents were necessary for clarities sake because without them the play would have been a jumbled mess of who’s who. With that being said, the accents, when done well, did enrich the plays emphasis on “otherness” and how the people considered “others” had to flee their own repressive countries only to be treated with similar problems here in Canada. The play gave a stark reminder that, although Canada was a land of freedom and opportunity, oppression still has a grasp here in Canada.

I believe that this play has many opportunities for teaching English especially in regards to identity.  This play is based on the histories of three women and their passage to Canada. Using this idea, a family tree assignment in which the students gather information about their histories and write about the endeavours of their ancestors would allow them to begin to see themselves in a different light. This tree would be a road map of all the history that has lead up to them and give them a better idea of the people and places in which they come from. In this way, students get a better understanding of who they are through the studying of their ancestors. This assignment works great because it allows students to delve deeper into their own histories and discover the foundations in which their identity was created from. A comprehensive knowledge of the background of your students can allow a better understanding of their character and a few of the obstacles they may have overcome within their lives. Thus, the teacher can better connect and relate to their students as well as have the students better connect and relate to one another.

Genre: 1. Engaging- Touching the heart and mind of the audience

  1. Informative- Historical Contexts and conditions

Mode: Multi-Modal: Aural, Visual, and Oral

Form: Play

Curriculum Connections (theme):

**Outcome: CR A10.1-Comprehend and respond to a variety of visual, oral, print, and multimedia texts that address:

social action (agency) (e.g., Human Existence).

social responsibility (e.g., Destiny and Challenges of Life); and

identity (e.g., Foundational Stories).

-View, listen to, read, and respond to First Nations and Métis resources and other texts that reflect diverse personal identities, worldviews, and backgrounds (e.g., appearance, culture, socio-economic status, ability, age, gender, language, social structures, and decision making).

-Respond personally and critically to individuals, events, and ideas presented in a variety of First Nations, Métis, and other Canadian and international texts.

-Generate relevant questions about texts on issues related to identity, social responsibility, and social action (agency).

**Outcome: CR A10.4– Read, interpret, and draw conclusions about the ideas, information, concepts, and themes presented in a variety of literary (including poems, plays, essays, short stories, novels) and informational (including magazines, newspapers, and on-line information) texts.

-Read, comprehend, and explain the human experiences and values reflected in various literary and informational texts created by First Nations, Métis, Saskatchewan, Canadian, and international authors from various cultural communities.

-Read and interpret critically the main ideas, events, and themes of a variety of literary texts including stories, novels, scripts, poetry, and non-fiction works, and prepare, present, and defend critical responses to what is read.

-Interpret, explain, analyze, and discuss how the literary qualities and the distinctive conventions, structures, and language features of a range of texts suit the topic and purpose.


Martina, N., & Mythen, S. (2017, January 28). displaced. (J. Block, E. Laishram, & A. Mazurik, Performers) The Refinery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


3 thoughts on “Identity and Displacement

  1. The following quotation from your blog is so so important: “the plays emphasis on “otherness” and how the people considered “others” had to flee their own repressive countries only to be treated with similar problems here in Canada”. This is important because “otherness” is something that should be taught from a young age. I think that this play is important because it doesn’t just have one group as the other, but multiple other groups. This will hit home for more students! I think that when teaching our students to consider themselves, they should also be thinking about what “othering” is and why it effects them!

    I also believe that this would have CCC potential as well! This is social studies material as well!

    Great job Kashtin! Awesome Blog post! ❤

    — Solara


  2. Hi Kashtin!
    This is an excellent resource idea that portrays many ideas of the realities of people seeking a “better life” in Canada. Being a play, this resource would act as a form of experience for students; it would serve both visual and audio learners in a positive way. I love how you point out the importance of being an active listener when studying drama. Connecting to the story through the actions and thoughts of the characters is a perfect way to capture the attention of students of all different learning styles… these aspects make it personal.
    Your emphasis on identity, especially in relations to the countries these women come from, make this play an ideal source for study in various curriculums (ELA10, ELA30). Whether it be the search for self, home, or freedom, the connection this play has with Canada emulates relatability that many students are sure to have faced at some point in their lives. The search for self is a long road that stems from an understanding of an identity that consists of culture, experience, family, language… this play seems to capture all of these aspects in a single text that has a key focus on worldview.
    Thanks for all the ideas! I’m definitely adding this one to my reading list. 🙂


  3. Hi Kashtin,
    I have never heard of the play before but now I need to check it out! I think a family tree assignment is a great way to connect with your students!


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