Janet Munsil

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Plays by Janet Munsil

That Elusive Spark

Playwrights Canada Press
Type: Text

Neuropsychologist Helen Harlow is an expert at understanding the functions of the human brain and yet her own remains a mystery. Turning her back on a once-brilliant future filled with scientific promise, Helen attempts to escape the mess of her life by diving headfirst into a new one: living in a frat-house basement, teaching Psych 101 to clueless freshmen, and confronting both her depression and the puzzling attentions of her slacker housemate, Finlay. Pushed to the brink and increasingly desperate for some semblance of normalcy, Helen finds herself in a doctor’s office looking for a change. But not everyone chooses to change. Certainly not Phineas Gage, a construction foreman in 1848 who miraculously survives an explosion that shoots an iron rod though his head. While Phineas makes an extraordinary physical recovery, he has a dramatic change in personality. Attended to and observed by the young doctor James Harlow, Helen’s ancestor, the legacy of Phineas’s dramatic story shows how far we have come scientifically, and yet how little we can comprehend of the mystery of our own hearts and minds.

Picture of Janet Munsil

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Janet Munsil is a Victoria-based playwright, and a graduate of the University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre program. She has been the artistic director and festival producer of Intrepid Theatre since 1992, where she produces the annual Victoria Fringe Festival, Uno Fest and Winterlab. Her plays have been produced internationally and include The Ugly Duchess, Emphysema (a love story) and Circus Fire, among others. Janet Munsil was commissioned by Theatre Calgary and Canada’s National Arts Centre to adapt Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, winning the Calgary Theatre Critics Award for Best Play of 2013.