Whispering Pines

Tracey Ferencz and Paul Rainville. Photo by Paul Toogood, courtesy of GCTC


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

“Whispering Pines a gripping tale with many ah-ha moments”.
   – The Ottawa Citizen

Download the whole Ottawa Citizen review.

Whispering Pines
by Richard Sanger

It’s 1987 and the Soviets still hold an iron grip on East Berlin. Espionage is rampant. The Stasi employ half a million informants, and every third citizen is under surveillance. In this divided city live Renate and Bruno, two artists who want to write, sing and paint their way to a new world. When Thomas, a Canadian academic, arrives on their doorstep bearing gifts from the West and dreams of life beyond the Wall, their lives are turned upside down. Years later, in a peaceful cabin on the shores of Lake Superior, Renate brings the three old friends together once more to confront the secrets, passion and betrayal that tore them apart.

Nightswimming is very proud to have commissioned Richard’s play and guided his challenging vision for it through an exciting period of creation and workshopping. Whispering Pines premiered in October 2011 at Ottawa’s Great Canadian Theatre Company in a very beautiful and powerfully performed production.

Richard wrote the following for the GCTC production:

“‘It was never just for the two of us,’ says Renate at the start of the play. She’s talking about the idyllic retreat she’s built on the north shore of Lake Superior, but she might be describing the impulse behind many of the perfect things we design, be they dinners, cabins in the woods, or new societies. Even the greediest capitalists, she observes later, like to share their wine with others. Although inspired by unique historical events—the collapse of socialist in the Eastern Bloc, the release of the Stasi files — Whispering Pines explores themes that, I hope, extend beyond those circumstances: what happens when our ideals are tested? Can we ever really be free or true? Then there are the usual dishes: love, art, betrayal.”

Production History

Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa
October 28 – November 13, 2011

Directed by Brian Quirt
Featuring Tracey Ferencz, Kris Joseph, Paul Rainville
Set & Costume design by Brian Smith
Lighting design by Beth Kates
Projections designed by Beth Kates & Brian Smith
Sound Design/Composer: Ian Tamblyn
Assistant Director: Leora Morris
Stage Management by Samira Rose
Apprentice Stage Manager: Erika Morey

Development History
Whispering Pines was commissioned and developed by Nightswimming. It received a workshop and public reading at Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects, and a workshop at GCTC where Richard Sanger was playwright-in-residence at the time. We wish to thank the following performers for their invaluable contributions to the creation of this play:

Nola Augustson, Oliver Becker, Kevin Bundy, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Ins Choi, Todd Duckworth, Tracey Ferencz, Natascha Girgis, David Jansen, Kris Joseph, Trevor Leigh, Tony Nappo, Gord Rand, Jane Spidell, Greg Spottiswood, Kristen Thomson, Nigel Shawn Williams and Rylan Wilkie.

Many thanks to Naomi Campbell, Deborah Lambie and Andrea Romaldi for all their work on this play. Special thanks also to Marie Barlizo, Liz Engelman, Laurren Iacobellis, Lise Ann Johnson, Jordan Tannahill and ATP’s Vanessa Porteous and Vicki Stroich.

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