Banana Boots is a one-man-show / memoir in which Fennario recounts, with astonishing insight and wit, the phenomenon of taking his famous bilingual play Balconville to Belfast on a British / Canadian cultural mission. Given the subject of Balconville, that the real problem in Quebec is not one of language or culture, but one of British imperialism and the class structure it imposes on its “colonials,” the ironies of such an event are, of course, both delicious and irresistible.
Though first mystified by the dismissive and disinterested response to his play, Fennario gradually realizes that it is his handlers and agents, presenting him as an icon of the British Empire, who are causing the problem. Once out among the working class and the bristling tension-filled atmosphere of their pub-based communities, Fennario experiences a mutual epiphany of solidarity with “the troubles” in Ireland and “the troubles” in Quebec, brought to a head by his soul mate “Banana Boots,” the stand-up Irish comedian who regales his audience with scathing caricatures of both Ian Paisley and the leaders of Sien Fein. Himself an Anglophone descendant of Irish immigrants who came to “the point” in Montreal to escape the potato famine in 1847, Fennario remains an unabashed Marxist and Quebec separatist.
Banana Boots is Fennario’s clearest expression of his revolutionary social conscience since his highly acclaimed student journal Without a Parachute; it is also published in celebration of the historic 1998 referendum in Ireland.
About the author
Anglophone playwright born David Wiper in Montreal, Quebec, 1947. He was raised in the working class district of Pointe-St-Charles, an area he would make the centre of most of his plays. He was one of six children, his father was a housepainter. His pen name, given to him by a girlfriend, was part of a Bob Dylan song, “Pretty Peggy-O.” David Fennario has described his life as: Born on the Avenues in the Verdun-Pointe Saint Charles working-class district of Montreal; one of six kids growing up in Duplessis’ Quebec, repressed, depressed, oppressed and compressed. “School was a drag. My working experience turned me into a raving Red calling for world revolution. The process of becoming a political activist gave me the confidence to be a writer. Up to then, I thought only middle-class people could become artists, because they were not stupid like working-class people, who were working-class because they were stupid. But reading Socialist literature convinced me that working-class people can change themselves and the world around them. We are not chained to fate, Freud, God, gender or a genetic code. We can make ourselves into what we want. I’ve been trying my best to do that ever since, and have had some success as a playwright and a prose writer.?