Sharon Pollock Criticism: General Commentary - Essay

Malcolm Page (essay date fall 1979)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Page, Malcolm. “Sharon Pollock: Committed Playwright.” Canadian Drama (fall 1979): 104-11.

[In the following essay, Page details the storylines of a handful of Pollock's earlier plays, and considers the social and political motivations behind them.]

Sharon Pollock may be an under-estimated writer because, of her numerous works, only Walsh (Talonbooks) and The Komagata Maru Incident (Playwrights Co-op) are readily available—for the fact (sometimes the accident) of publication remains important in establishing the stature of a playwright. Further, Pollock identifies with alternative rather than mainstream theatre, telling an interviewer: “I...

(The entire section is 3945 words.)

Robert C. Nunn (essay date spring 1984)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Nunn, Robert C. “Sharon Pollock's Plays: A Review Article.” Theatre History in Canada 5, no. 1 (spring 1984): 72-83.

[In the following essay, Nunn appraises Pollock's plays published together in Blood Relations and Other Plays. Nunn concentrates on the oppressive forces that assault Pollock's characters, the decisions these characters make while under oppression, and the results the decisions have on the rest of their lives.]

Sharon Pollock has been writing for the stage, radio and television for more than ten years. Although her television and radio plays are not readily accessible, a survey of those of her stage plays which are available (and...

(The entire section is 5601 words.)

Diane Bessai (essay date 1986)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Bessai, Diane. “Sharon Pollock's Women: A Study in Dramatic Process.” In Amazing Space: Writing Canadian Women Writing, edited by Shirley Newman and Smaro Kamboureli, pp. 126-36. Edmonton: Longspoon/Newest, 1986.

[In the following essay, Bessai analyzes Pollock's addressing of feminist, social, political, and familial issues in her works, and surveys Pollock's experimentation with dramatic techniques to convey her message.]

At a summer 1985 conference in Toronto on Women's issues in the theatre, Rina Fraticelli cited playwright Sharon Pollock (along with the American Joanne Akalaitis and British Caryl Churchill) as representing ‘the distinct female...

(The entire section is 6800 words.)

Reid Gilbert (essay date 1986)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Gilbert, Reid. “Sharon Pollock.” In Profiles in Canadian Literature. 6, pp. 113-20. Toronto: Dundurn Press Limited, 1986.

[In the following essay, Gilbert provides an overview of Pollock's plays, offers insights recurring themes and styles in her works, and comments on Pollock's evolution as a playwright.]

Since 1974, when Walsh brought Sharon Pollock to national attention, critics have tended to generalize her work as documentary, seeing it as another example of a style which, in various expressions, has dominated Canadian theatre, particularly through the last fifteen years. In this view, her plays are often seen as examinations of historical evils...

(The entire section is 5388 words.)

Diane Bessai (essay date 1992)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Bessai, Diane. “Women Dramatists: Sharon Pollock and Judith Thompson.” In Post-Colonial English Drama: Commonwealth Drama since 1960, pp. 97-117. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

[In the following excerpt, Bessai expounds upon the feminist aspects of Pollock's Blood Relations, Whiskey Six Cadenza, and Doc.]


In Canada the fortunes of women playwrights, like those of their male counterparts, are reflected in the struggle for an indigenous Canadian drama on the Canadian stage. Only in the past fifteen years or so can it be truly said that Canadian plays have found an equitable place on that stage. However, in each...

(The entire section is 4502 words.)

Anne Nothof (essay date winter 1995)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Nothof, Anne. “Crossing Borders: Sharon Pollock's Revisitation of Canadian Frontiers.” Modern Drama 38, no. 4 (winter 1995): 475-87.

[In the following essay, Nothof presents three examples (Walsh, The Komagata Maru Incident, and Fair Liberty's Call) in which Pollock blends historical documentation with fictional embellishments to refute the commonly held belief that Canadian history is lacking in controversy and has no issues of immigration double standards or racial discrimination.]

Sharon Pollock's “history plays” are essentially iconoclastic, deconstructing comfortable assumptions about the growth of the Canadian nation and the peaceful...

(The entire section is 5645 words.)

Rosalind Kerr (essay date 1996)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Kerr, Rosalind. “Borderline Crossings in Sharon Pollock's Out-Law Genres: Blood Relations and Doc.Theatre Research in Canada 17, no. 2 (1996): 200-15.

[In the following essay, Kerr analyzes Blood Relations and Doc to reveal the correlation between Pollock's use of non-traditional theater styles and techniques with her plays about women who break from their traditional roles in a patriarchal society.]

Sharon Pollock's well-known plays, Blood Relations and Doc, can be read as “out-law genres” by extending the criteria which Caren Kaplan has outlined to designate women's renegade texts to theatrical...

(The entire section is 5370 words.)