Crabdance: An Afternoon of Dramatic Readings

🦀 The UBC Department of English, UBC Library, and ESA are pleased to present a selection of dramatic readings from Vancouver playwright Beverly Simons’ Crabdance. 🦀

Crabdance is a tragicomedy in three acts in which a lonely, middle-aged woman plays elaborate, ritualistic games with three men whom she forces to play the roles of her son, her husband, and her lover.

Please join us on March 22 in the Buchanan Penthouse at 4 PM for an exciting night of drama. Coffee, tea, and cookies will be provided. All are welcome!

If you are interested in being a dramatic reader, please contact No experience necessary!

Crabdance is an absurdist play that premiered at A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle in 1969, directed by Malcolm Black and starring Marjorie Nelson, Alan Scarfe, Robert Casper, and Gordon Gould. Its Canadian premiere was at the Vancouver Playhouse in 1972, directed by Frances Hyland. It was subsequently performed at a number of theatres across the country.

The play was published by Talon Books. Simons wrote in the author’s preface: “I saw around me again and again a kind of woman who tormented and destroyed people…She was sitting on my head, on my breast, sucking the energy out of me…I started to write because I had to get rid of this woman,[but] what started out almost as an act of hate became an act of compassion.”

Crabdance explores the underside of the communal psyche, where the damage done by the inequity of prescribed gender roles and other lies that sustain the social order is given a subversive archetypal life. This underworld of the discarded and the desperate assumes a dreamlike ritual character in the predatory actions of Sadie, an elderly woman who invites door-to-door salesmen into her home and enlists them in the roles of Husband, Son, and Lover, trapping them in a bizarre tarantella of half-farcical, half-nihilistic shadow-play. Part satire, part tragicomedy, Crabdance is a ferocious and fascinating exposé of the dark side of family values. It also explores the kind of madness that can surface when the elderly are abandoned to their own devices in a society facing ruthlessly forward. Evocative of the experimental works of Beckett, Pinter and Albee, Simons’ play is a woman’s view of the world in fragments.

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