I’ve written more than a dozen plays for adults and young audiences. For information about performance rights or to obtain scripts for any of the plays listed on this website contact me.
My current play-in-progress, Beautiful Savage is inspired by the true story of Marie-Angelique Memmie LeBlanc, a girl found in the woods in the Champagne district of France in 1731. Many years later, she was revealed to be an enslaved Native North American, who was brought across the Atlantic and managed to escape her captors. She became known as the Savage Girl of Champagne, the 18th century equivalent of a media sensation. Beautiful Savage weaves Memmie’s LeBlanc extraordinary personal saga with some of the fascinating intellectual currents of the period, particularly in her relationship with James Burnett, a prominent figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, who was determined to solve the mystery of her origins.
The Hollow Square
I wrote the script for this immersive music theatre production that was part of the Fringe of Toronto festival in July 2015. Mounted at the historic Church of St. George the Martyr in downtown Toronto, The Hollow Square took the audience back in time to meet characters from 1847 Toronto, including a Singing Master who led them in a “choral tsunami” of old-time shape-note hymns. Reviewers praised the show as “compelling,” “unique,” and “evocative.”
The New Mother
The New Mother, my adaptation of a classic Victorian children’s story about two well-behaved, “perfect” children who can’t resist the lure of being bad, and find they must pay the consequences. This one-act play based on a haunting gothic fairy tale has echoes of Hansel and Gretel. Neil Gaiman drew inspiration for his novel Coraline from the original story by the Victorian writer Lucy Lane Clifford.
The New Mother was produced by Montreal’s Youtheatre in 2005 and 2006, and the Montreal Gazette praised the show as “wonderful… the audience sat spellbound.” The play was also performed at the International Showcase of Performing Arts for Young People in Cleveland, Ohio in 2007.
Putting on a Show: Theater for Young People
Putting on a Show: Theater for Young People, published in 2004 by Second Story Press, contains the scripts of four of my young-audience plays and photos from the various productions, plus a detailed section that explores the history of theatre, what makes it distinct from other forms of storytelling, suggestions for how to go about creating a play, and descriptions of the roles of the director, designers, and other members of the creative team. Putting on a Show is an engaging, accessible book for kids interested in theatre, as well as a valuable classroom resource for teachers.
What reviewers say about Putting on a Show:
“Hard-hitting plays for older children that tackle subjects like self-esteem and being an unwanted foster child. Her stories are compelling and are, of course meant to be performed, but would also be suitable for reading aloud with students in a classroom setting.” – Canadian Children’s Book Centre
“Expertly written by award-winning children’s playwright Kathleen McDonnell, Putting On A Show is a simple but effective guide to introducing young people to the joy of performing. A superb tool for teachers as well as aspiring actors, directors, and playwrights.” – Midwest Book Review
“Putting on a Show will be very useful in a drama class. The plays will educate students and give them an opportunity to develop their dramatic talents through interesting, challenging plays. Highly recommended.” – CM magazine, Manitoba Library Association
The plays included in Putting on a Show are:
The Seven Ravens is an adaptation of a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a young girl who travels to the end of the world to find her seven brothers and free them from a curse that has turned them into ravens. The play received a 2003 Dora Award for best performance, as well as a nomination for best young audience play. It was first produced in 2001 by Montreal’s Youtheatre.
Loon Boy is a drama about a young boy who confronts his own inner demons when he’s sent to live with a foster mother who lives on a lake with nesting loons. It was a winner of a 1994 Chalmers Canadian Children’s Play Award for young audience theatre. It was produced by Carousel Players in 1993 and again in 1998, both directed by Pierre Tetrault.
Ezzie’s Emerald is a musical, based on my novel of the same name, about an overweight girl who meets up with a comical fairy godmother and finds her true strength. I wrote the book and lyrics for the show and the music is by composer Phyllis Cohen. It was produced by Carousel Players in 1995.
Foundlings, a coming-of-age tale set in ancient Greece, is an excellent large-cast play for high school and junior-high drama classes. It was written on commission by Young People’s Theatre during my tenure as playwright in residence in 1999-2000. The play had a workshop and showcase production at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta in May 2001, directed by Annie Szamosi.
Right of Passage
Right of Passage was a large-scale outdoor theatre work incorporating music, mask, stilt-walking and puppetry, which I wrote in collaboration with director Anne Barber and designer Brad Harley. It was presented on Toronto Island in July 2000 by Shadowland Theatre, with a cast and company of more than eighty people, including professional actors, young performers and community members. You can find more information about this unique show at the Shadowland site.
I’ve written a number of other plays, including Unpacking (1995), a one-act drama; Precipitous (1992) a comic monologue about childbirth; The Cookie War, a comedy produced at the Blyth Festival in 1988; Different(1987) a young audience drama; Risk Factors, Winner of the 1980 National Women’s Playwriting Award; and Six-East (1976) a comedy co-written with Francine Volker.