6 Essential QuestionsFrom celebrated novelist and poet Priscila Uppal comes a startling playwriting debut; a poetic and powerful carnival of tragicomic theatre.

6 Essential Questions tells the story of Renata as she travels to Brazil to reunite with the mother who abandoned her when she was just five years old. In Rio, Renata discovers more than she bargained for in her quest to uncover the truth of who abandoned whom. She is continually tossed about by her undead grandmother and a semi-invisible uncle as they choreograph the ultimate dance of mother and daughter, who must both confront their dreams before they can ever attempt to confront each other. Imaginations run wild in this strangely beautiful and funny story loosely based on Uppal’s critically acclaimed memoir, Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother, a finalist for both the Hilary Weston Writers’  Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

(Playwrights Canada, 2015)

Buy 6 Essential Questions from the publisher, available October 2015.

Praise for 6 Essential Questions

“[A] riotous Rio Carnival: it’s raucous, in your face, often entertaining…Elizabeth Saunders is vibrant and irrepressible…There is lots of good work by the cast, especially Saunder’s exotic, energetic mother and Huculak’s sensual, wistful, fantasizing grandmother. Zeppieri is often mesmerizing in the trickster role.” NNN—recommended, memorable scenes

–Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine

“The play is based on her 2013 memoir Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother, a book that I’ll definitely be reading soon…Elizabeth Saunders was fabulous as Mother; she’s flamboyant, completely self-centered, and unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality…I enjoyed Richard Zeppieri’s performance as Uncle Garbage…Their timing was always perfect…The thing I loved most about the play was the language, the wordplay, the dry wit. I loved Uppal’s use of unexpected metaphors…a couple of tears rolled down my cheeks.”

–Sam Mooney, Mooney on Theatre (for 6EQ)

“[F]ar more than culture shock…(Elizabeth Saunders) is a firecracker constantly ignited and ready to burst at the seams…The other two members of the cast do a fine job at creating the necessary buffer. Grandmother (Maggie Huculak) is as delicate as an old Brazilian lady can be—which is still quite fiery…Doctor Garbage (Richard Zeppieri) settles into his role as the grounded anchor for this trio of opinionated arguing women…As Renata learns the truth about her absentee mother and makes her sad return home, she learns that not all endings were meant to be happy and that some memories are best left behind. It is for this realization and for the intriguing acting choices that this production is still worth checking out.”

–Samantha Wu, Lithium Magazine

“A surreal, tango-drenched adventure through time and space…incredibly funny. The dialogue dances with sharp wit that reads like snappy poetry…Each character hits the mark…Elizabeth Saunders is hilarious…Funny, shocking, touching, and deeply humanizing, this play deals with a delicate and difficult notion—maternal rejection—with humor, brutal honesty and steely nerve, much like the phenomenal acting of the four-member ensemble who bring Brazil to life in all its colourfulness and contradictions, while simultaneously taking the audience on a tour of the human heart, with all its frailties and all of its resilience…uncanny, quirky exploration of love, family, the nature of memory…I just have one question for you…when are you getting your tickets?”

–Gesilayefa Azorbo, Cadence Canada

“The performances are engaging…this show, though infused with magic realism, teaches its audience a most integral message about family. Family is comprised of people who care about you. Love, not DNA, is the foundation on which a family is built…6 Essential Questions teaches us that there are some things you cannot wipe from your memory, no matter how hard you try.”

–Veronica Appia, The Theatre Reader

“[A] riveting and poetic theatrical experience. Elizabeth Saunders fires up the stage in her depiction of a narcissistic mother…Maggie Huculak is hilarious…Richard Zeppieri is fantastic.”

–Lisa McKeown, The Charlebois Post, Canada

“(Victoria Wallace) makes great use of simple items to create an atmosphere as surreal as its characters, setting the backdrop for everything from a bullfight to carnival to a quaint apartment. The physicality of both Renata’s long lost mother Catharina (Saunders) and grandmother (Huculak) is a highlight. They are two of the most eccentric female characters I have ever seen on stage. The complexity of the situation is heightened by the cultural imposition by Renata to think of herself as Brazilian, even though she is Canadian through and through…[T]he performances are great and the visuals most intriguing.”

–Lorenzo Pagnotta, My Entertainment World

“Elisabeth Saunders is fearless…flamboyant…Hideous character. Eye-popping performance.”

–Lynn Slotkin, The Slotkin Letter

“[H]eavy on poetry and metaphor…Uppal does succeed in creating a dreamlike atmosphere.”

–Carly Maga, Torontoist