In a world ruled by fear and class, what happens when an epidemic obliterates social order? “down from heaven” is an uneasy place, full of contradictions, horror and deep emotional beauty. As people fight for their survival, the concept of justice, civility and dignity becomes increasingly difficult to hang onto. The worm has turned. Heaven is a cautionary tale full of wonder and despair.
Set during a pandemic and food crisis, down from heaven explores the events that lead to the collapse of civil society, revealed through the lives of the wealthy Braumbach’s and their former gardener, Cheater; now a member of the Security and Surveillance Police. After going into voluntary quarantine the Braumbach’s become dependent on Cheater not only for information on the outside world, but for their very lives. Laurel Braumbach, their sixteen-year old daughter acts as go-between and enters the dark and convoluted world of Cheater, discovering in the process, startling revelations about herself, politics, and the man they have become dependent upon.
Down From Heaven premiered at Imago Théâtre, Montreal, Quebec in 2009 and was directed by Alain Goulem and starred Chip Chiupka, Bruce Dinsmore, Leni Parker and Amelia Sargisson.
Nominated for a MECCA award for best new play.
In her plays, Colleen Wagner has scavenged the sun-scorched plains of the Dust Bowl, confronted the desperation of parents with a terminally ill child and tackled the horrors of war. It is against these expansive, turbulent backdrops that her characters struggle to survive.
The theme of change via extreme circumstances also lies at the heart of Wagner’s new play “down from heaven”… The story follows the well-to-do Braumbach family, who are quarantined in the basement of their luxurious home. Outside, society teeters on the verge of collapse as a pandemic and food crisis rip apart the old order. – Brett Nooton. Montreal Hour. Sept 24-30 Vol. 17:38
“Colleen’s writing acutely evokes our contemporary world’s pulse and climate of seemingly perpetual catastrophes. In this post 9/11 era of heightened security, threatened ecology, impending pandemics and economic scandals, the mistrust of “others” has been heightened to an ominous frequency. down from heaven poignantly examines the paranoia and quest for delineation that our current condition fosters.” – Clare Schapiro, Artistic Director: Imago Théâtre
“I love the way Colleen is able to skewer the strata of society while still loving them,” says director Alain Goulem. The play explores in particular the world of the working class – who in Wagner’s story are in positions of power – and the human condition in a time of crisis. “I think that’s when we come to know ourselves most profoundly. We discover who we are,” she says.
Down from heaven was published in 2011 by Playwrights Canada Press.