The December Man: The private shadow of public violence

On December 6, 1989, a young man by the name of Marc Lépine entered a college classroom at the École Polytechnique in Montreal carrying a gun. Stepping into a classroom, he separated the male and female students, claiming that he was "fighting feminism.” Overall, he killed fourteen women and injured ten others along with four men in just under 20 minutes, before turning the gun on himself.

Colleen Murphy’s The December Man (L’homme de décembre), winner of the 2007 Governor General's Literary Award for drama, looks beyond the headlines of the massacre, creating a story of a fictional student named Jean, a man who was in the room with Marc Lépine and survived.

In the aftermath of that attack, Benoît and Kathleen try to help their beloved son Jean deal with the guilt of surviving what so many women did not. Seething with rage and powerlessness, Jean's life has come unglued. “For my character, she’s acting in the microcosm.” Says actor Kate Hennig. “She’s really trying to keep her son alive. She doesn’t see the politics or the societal impact of what’s happened.”

With the recent terrorists attacks in Beirut and Paris, audiences of The December Man (L’homme de décembre) will undoubtedly be very fragile emotionally. However, for Ms Hennig this should not be a deterrent to seeing this production. “It’s the responsibility of the audience, in a way, to see the macrocosm … the audience will get the impact, because of where the world is today - because of last Friday.”

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