Magpie at FemFest

Jane Burpee in Magpie; Photo by Janet Shum

“Magpie” is my third play to be produced at FemFest, following “Cowboy Boots and a Corsage” in 2003 and “Abby’s Place” in 2006. These three plays share roots as original radio drama scripts for the CBC, which I later adapted for the stage. An audio clip from the 1995 CBC national broadcast of “Magpie” featuring Valerie Pearson is available on my website ( “Magpie” is about a parolee surveillance officer, code named Magpie, who has her own agenda. She doesn’t like the guys she mentors in her halfway house, but Reggie, the new guy, gets under Magpie’s skin. She’s got to give in, give up or give back.

This play was written after a woman I knew was slain in an Edmonton subway station. She was a young mom, and had just had lunch with her husband downtown, and kissed him goodbye. I wrote this play in memory of her and also to try to understand why anyone would hurt her and what I could do with my own hurt knowing that some people kill other people without intending, without thinking, without cause. I also had to deal with my own feelings of revenge, and that’s when the character of Magpie came to me.

How does a woman work with rapist-murderers? In some research I did with the Edmonton Police Service on another project, I met one particular amazing woman who worked with men like Reggie, and she inspired the character of Magpie. “Magpie” first appeared on stage ten years ago at Jagged Edge Lunchbox Theatre in Edmonton, which makes its appearance at FemFest a tenth anniversary production! I’m travelling from Edmonton to Winnipeg for opening night on Sunday, September 18. Hope to meet you there!

-Katherine Koller

Nan Fewchuk, Karl Thordarson and Adam Charbonneau in Magpie; Photo by Janet Shum

Full details on Magpie performance at FemFest.

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