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Drama Canadian

The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius

by (author) Colleen Murphy

J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
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The Society for the Destitute Present Titus Bouffonius presents five characters who shelter at the Society for the Destitute and who get a $500 grant from Arts Educational Outreach to put on a play. They decide to do Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus because it has the most murders, but as you might predict, this is not your average night of Shakespeare. Shocking, outrageous and stupidly funny, the characters often forget their lines, forget what play they are in, say whatever the hell they want to, or refuse to stay dead when they are killed. And, as only clowns are able, they turn the tables on us, the audience, and present us with our own foibles in a way that is both hilarious and inevasible. With the inspired marriage of Shakespearian text like, "I plead my passions for Lavinia's love," and inspired contemporary dialogue like, "You merciless piss-flapping dick-weed twat-waffle slug," and the French clown technique of bouffon. Audaciously satirical and physical, the play is an unflinching look at war, rage and grief through characters who yearn for beauty in the grotesqueness of our world today.

About the author

Colleen Murphy is a playwright, filmmaker and librettist, born in 1954 in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, raised in Northern Ontario, and now based in Toronto. Her play Pig Girl won the 2016 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama as well as the 2014 Carol Bolt Award. The December Man / L'homme de decembre won the 2007 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama, the CAA/Carol Bolt Award and the Enbridge Playwrights Award. Other plays include The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius, The Breathing Hole (shortlisted for the Susan Blackburn Prize, U.S. and the Carol Bolt Award), Bright Burning, Armstrong's War, The Goodnight Bird, Beating Heart Cadaver (shortlisted for the 1999 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama) The Piper and Down in Adoration Falling. Libretti include Oksana G., (c. Aaron Gervais) for Tapestry Opera (nominated for seven Dora Mavor Moore Awards), Bring Me The Head Of The President and My Mouth On Your Heart, (c. August Murphy-King) for Tapestry and Toy Piano Composers and Bicycle Opera, respectively. Colleen twice won prizes in the CBC Literary Competition. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and her distinct films have played in festivals around the world.

Colleen has been Writer-in-Residence at four theatres and six Canadian universities and Canadian Playwright-in-Residence at Finborough Theatre in London UK. In 2017, Colleen was awarded a Canada Council New Chapter Grant to write a six-hour play, Geography of Fire / La Furie et sa geographie.

Upcoming: libretto for Fantasma (c. Ian Cusson) for the Canadian Opera Company, Fall 2021; screenplay for Armstrong's War, produced by Solo Productions (Mary-Young Leckie), Fall 2021.


Colleen Murphy's profile page

Excerpt: The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius (by (author) Colleen Murphy)

FINK: Enter Aaron with a baggie of loonies.

BOOTS: (As Aaron.) Hi. I'm Aaron. (Swats.) O look I killed a fly. It feels good to hurt things...slowly. I like pleasure...the pleasure of pain and the pain of pleasure and soon I'll mount aloft with her imperial hotness, mount her pitch then Aaron...then Aaron...

Silence while BOOTS struggles to find the next line.

SOB: "Then, Aaron, arm thy heart and fit thy thoughts."

BOOTS: (As Aaron.)Then Aaron, arm thy heart and fit thy thoughts to wait upon this new-made Empress -- did I say WAIT? No way, I want to WANTON with this Queen, this Goddess -- this Nymph will charm the Emperor and I'll rise to him on Tamora's sweet tits.


SOB: The baggie of loonies.

BOOTS: (Putting the bag of loonies somewhere.) He that had wit would think that I had none, to bury so many loonies under a tree, and never after to inherit it. But alas, I have a strategy, which, cunningly effected, will beget a very excellent piece of villainy: and so repose, sweet baggie. (He listens.)HARK...who comes? Tamora's sons, Donny and Kevin.

Enter Spark holding Donny and Kevin.

SPARK: (As Kevin.) Donny, I plead my passions for Lavinia's love.(As Donny.) Kevin, I plead MY passions for Lavinia's love.(As Kevin.) No I plead MY passions for Lavinia's love.(As Donny.) NO I PLEAD MY PASSIONS FOR LAVINIA'S LOVE.

BOOTS: (As Aaron.) Why, how now, Lords! Are you comparing passions?

SPARK:(As Kevin.) I love Lavinia more than all the world.(As Donny) I love Lavinia more than all the world.

BOOTS: (As Aaron.) Both of you could take her -- one from the front, one from behind.

SPARK: (As Kevin.) Faith, not me. I love her eyes too much.

(As Donny.) Faith, not me, I adore her hair.

BOOTS: (As Aaron.) Adore her hair, ha ha -- she wouldn't look twice at your muffinfaces. She and Bassianus are engaged so the only way you could have Lavinia would be to rape her.

SPARK: (As Kevin and Donny.) No that's cruel that's so cruel mean justask her if she'll let us finger her lady parts?

BOOTS: (As Aaron.) Don't ask her. Rape is power and it's a very bad thing to do but it feels good while you're doing it unless the person you're doing it with pulls out a knife and cuts off your manly parts then you're nothing but a particle of uselessness watching the seconds fall off your life.

SPARK: (As Kevin and Donny.) ...Wow.

BOOTS: (As Aaron.) My lords, the forest walks are wide and spacious; And many unfrequented plots there are fitted...plots there are fitted for fun for...

SOB: "fitted by kind for rape and murder..."

BOOTS: (As Aaron.) ...fitted by kind for rape and murder, there serve your lusts, shadow'd from heaven's eye, And revel in Lavinia's treasury which Isuspect is full of sparkle.

SPARK: (As Kevin.) Lavinia's treasury.(As Donny.) Yeah, Lavinia's sparkly treasury.

BOOTS: (As Aaron.) Hark, your mommy's coming -- go hunt some panthers.

SOB: (As Narrator.) Exit Donny and Kevin.

Editorial Reviews

"There are comedies that are black; there are comedies that are very black. And then there's The Society For The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius: it's riotously black. All good unwholesome fun." (Liz Nicholls,

The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius is deranged, darkly funny, and perverse, but its subversiveness also serves a purpose, and it makes for an unforgettable experience." (Andrea Warner, The Georgia Straight)

It's bloody, bawdy and grotesquely perverse...This may not be for everyone. You may find yourself outside of your comfort zone, but The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Buffonius is strikingly original and delivered with enough verve and "you-can't-do-that-on-stage" style to take your breath away, while leaving you with lots to talk about after the show." (Colin MacLean,

"This show is smart. The heady mix of bouffon revelry and Shakespearean trauma is fuel for an edgy comedy, and playwright Colleen Murphy has dug deep into both worlds to concoct an experiential feast." (Chelsey Stuyt, Vancouver Presents)

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