Judith Thompson became one of Canada’s leading contemporary playwrights when, after a series of negative reviews, her play The Crackwalker (1980) was recognized as a brilliant piece of cutting-edge theater. Bleak and affronting, about the lives of those marginalized and abandoned by society, the play set a standard for a career writing realistic drama with psychologically profound characters and a commentary on the key social issues in modern-day Canada.
Thompson’s drama Habitat, which premiered on September 20, 2001 at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto, also examines issues facing marginalized members of Canadian society. It focuses on the tribulations of a group home for troubled teenagers and the struggles of the home’s manager to remain on a prosperous suburban street while the street’s residents campaign to have the group home removed. Raine, whose mother has just died of cancer, grows and changes emotionally while she gets to know the man who runs the group home, one of its troubled wards, and an older woman who lives on the street. In addition to addressing themes of teenage anger and rebellion, the play explores the power and importance of the mother figure as well as what it really means to create a habitat of love and acceptance.