Little Death: A Play by Daniel Karasik


Little Death: A Play by Daniel Karasik


Publication Date: April 17, 2015
96 pages
8 × 5 inches
ISBN 9781771661805

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Alex may or may not be dying. Confronted with his mortality, he searches for sex and connection in hotel bars—with his wife Brit’s conflicted blessing.

Little Death, the lyrical new drama from CBC Fiction Prize-winner and Dora Award-nominated playwright Daniel Karasik, is a gripping study of sexuality under extreme pressure. Tender and fierce by turns, in precise, musical language that straddles the boundary between poetic verse and dramatic prose, this play for six actors (5 F, 1 M) asks fundamental questions about marriage, fidelity, and the intimate needs of men and women.

Prior to its premiere production at Toronto’s Theatre Centre in April 2015, Little Death was developed at the Royal Court Theatre in London, UK, the Tarragon Theatre and Stratford Festival in Canada, and off-Broadway’s The New Group. Influenced by contemporary European dramatic forms, the play’s style is hybrid—it exists for the reader as a poem, yet it has an innate theatricality that calls out for full elaboration on stage.

Spare and enigmatic, Little Death allows the reader, director, actors, and audience to fill out its shadows with their own intuitions and truths. In the vein of Anne Carson’s The Beauty of the Husband and Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, the play will delight theatre fans, poetry lovers, and anyone interested in thought-provoking art about life and love, sex and death. It is a deeply felt work from one of Canada’s most exciting young talents.

Praise for Little Death:

“Karasik is one of Canada’s most exciting young dramatists. With Little Death he is asking juicy, red meat questions about sex, meaning, and mortality. It is a little gem of a play; finely crafted and timeless.” —Jordan Tannahill, winner of the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays

“Karasik’s keen observations of the joys and hardships of life, articulated in precise and lyrical language, produce thrilling and eerily familiar glimpses of our own lives. He’s one of the most engaging new voices on Canada’s literary scene.” —Nicolas Billon, winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for Fault Lines

With brevity and tenderness, Little Death toys with the intangible intricacies of intimacy as it relates to sex, love and mortality. In this evocative and poetic new play, Daniel Karasik proves himself, once again, to be one of Canada’s most assured and promising young literary voices.” —Rosa Laborde, Finalist for the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for Léo

Reviews of Little Death:

“All in all, Little Death is a masterful exploration of how to write a readable play. With strong characters, inimitable voices and a playfulness of form and language, Daniel Karasik breathes life into his written words—breath he gives to the reader.” —Prism International

Praise for Daniel Karasik:

Hungry is a feast—a table piled high with sushi restaurants and Greyhound buses, locker rooms and microscopes… the collection is replete with flash moments of insight, Karasik’s speaker laying aside his world weariness in the face of simple revelations.” —ARC Poetry

“In Hungry, the acclaimed playwright Daniel Karasik condenses his knowledge of character and situation into poems that get at the essential drama of the human. His poetry is penetrating yet warm in both vision and language: beautifully measured in both senses of the word. The title poem is as fine as any sonnet to come out of the recent revival of that form… and there is similar achievement on every page.” —A.F. Moritz

“A man lies on his deathbed and begins to speak—not to his wife, who sits by his side, but to his memory of the woman with whom he had an affair. It is his wife’s response, and her voice—calm, measured, reflective—that makes ‘Mine’ the story it is. Thickly imagined and expertly executed, this is the sort of writing that reminds us of the possibility of redemption and the very hard work of being human.” — Jury Citation, CBC Short Story Prize 2012 (Jury members: Peter Behrens, Alison Pick, Michael Winter)

“Daniel Karasik’s ‘Witness’ explores, with haunting eloquence, various states of isolation, the basic human need for communication, and the value of art in the face of violence. Driven by recursive rhythm and refrain… Karasik steers us through the lonely spaces of suburbia to a weird, almost Kafkaesque world of incarceration, all focalized through the self-deprecating, compassionate voice and poetic (and yes, somewhat geeky in a good way) soul of his first-person narrator. A story of longing in a world peopled with thugs, ‘Witness,’ with its poetic reverberations, will stick with me for a long time.” —Judge’s Citation, The Malahat Review’s Jack Hodgins Founders’ Award for Fiction (Judge: Jeanette Lynes)

“Karasik takes a perceptive look at the ambivalent attitude to life of his generation, a generation of extremes… [The Innocents is] a finely woven psychological portrait of a young generation growing up with the belief that they can achieve anything, yet desperately looking for their place in an affluent society on turbo drive.” —Marie Rötzer, Theaterheute (Germany)

Daniel Karasik is a writer of plays, poetry, and fiction. He is a winner of the CBC Literary Award for Fiction (2012) and the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award (2013). His plays have been produced across Canada, in the US, and frequently in translation in Germany; The Biographer, produced in Toronto in 2013, garnered a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Outstanding New Play. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Western Magazine Award for his fiction and the National Magazine Award for his poetry, he is the author of two previous books of plays published by Playwrights Canada Press, a poetry collection with Cormorant Books, and a short story collection forthcoming in 2017 from Guernica Editions. His newest plays are in development with Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, where he is an incoming playwright-in-residence, and Whynot Theatre; off-Broadway’s The New Group; and the Stratford Festival, from which he holds a commission. He writes about art and politics at Connect with Karasik on Twitter @daniel_karasik.