Spring drama PREVIEW: Little Death, a new play by award-winning playwright Daniel Karasik | Book*hug Press

Spring drama PREVIEW: Little Death, a new play by award-winning playwright Daniel Karasik

Introducing the newest member of the BookThug family: award-winning playwright and author Daniel Karasik! BookThug is thrilled to publish his new play, Little Death, just in time to coincide with its World Premiere at the Theatre Centre in Toronto, ON, from April 17-May 3, 2015.  Little Death goes on sale April 17th from BookThug (pre-order here). Today on the BookThug Blog we are excited to bring you an exclusive sneak peek at the play and some information on the upcoming production.

Daniel Karasik’s plays have been produced across Canada, in the United States, and frequently in translation in Germany. His story “Mine” won the CBC Short Story Prize in 2012. In 2013 he won the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award. His story “Witness” won The Malahat Review’s Jack Hodgins Founders’ Award for Fiction in 2014. His most recently produced play, The Biographer (2013) was shortlisted for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play. He is the playwright-in-residence at the Tarragon Theatre for the 2015/16 season.

Little Death is the story of Alex, a young man who may or may not be dying. Shaken by an ambiguous but potentially terminal diagnosis, in search of sex and connection, Alex meets strangers in hotel bars—with his wife Brit’s conflicted blessing. Meanwhile, he and Brit try to hold their marriage together.

Christopher Stanton as Alex (Photo credit: Emily Lockhart)

It is a deeply emotional account of how the fear of imminent death affects a man’s sexuality in general and his marriage in particular, but its style on the page is shaped by a desire to leave space for the interpretative visions of directors, actors, designers, and readers. 

(From left to right) Elizabeth Tanner, Christopher Stanton, and Nicole Underhay (Photo credit: Emily Lockhart)

Little Death fuses a poetic sensibility with a rigorous psychological realism and verbal naturalism. It exists on the page as a poem, yet it has also an innate theatricality that calls out for elaboration on stage.

Christopher Stanton and Shauna Black (Photo credit: Emily Lockhart)


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



Excerpt from Little Death
by Daniel Karasik
(Available April 17th from BookThug)






Alex                              You’ve just been sitting here



Alex                              I told you I’d be home late

What’s the




Alex                              Hello




Alex                              Why the performance

Brit                               Performance

Alex                              Man comes home late

His wife at the kitchen table



Bloodshot eyes


He’s been out he didn’t come home for dinner he’s been drinking


Where have you been etc

Do you know what time it is

I’ve been waiting up for you

Etc etc

That whole

We haven’t played that one in a long time

Brit                               I guess I missed it


It’s fun

Alex                              Uh-huh

Brit                               Because we all know that scene


Husband and wife

The infidelity

The waiting

Familiar isn’t it

Even comforting

The way normal people play this shit

It makes sense




Brit                              You know I think I finally figured out what my problem is

My real problem

Alex                              Oh

Brit                               It’s a revelation I had in therapy

A therapy revelation

Are you skeptical

Alex                              I


Brit                               My real problem is that I secretly or not so secretly want

things to go back to exactly the way they were when we first


To fucking behind the portables at midnight

The wonderful irreverence

The reverent irreverence of our

That’s what I can’t

Let go of

And I would pretend that’s what we still have if you’d let me

I would be so happy to pretend and I’d never complain

But you don’t let me

You take that from me every time you come home at three in the


You don’t even allow me the right to complain

Because of your


Your own enormous unimaginable suffering

And you act like we agreed that was okay

Alex                              We did agree

We talked about this

Brit                               A long time ago

Alex                             We can talk about it again

Brit                               Would it make a difference

Alex                              Sure it

I mean if we

Brit                               Would you stop

Would it persuade you to stop

Alex                              I

Brit                               I’d much prefer you shut your mouth than lie to me


Little Death goes on sale April 17th. Pre-order a copy here. Daniel will read from Little Death at BookThug’s Spring 2015 Launch Party at the Garrison in Toronto. Copies will also be available for sale.

Directed by Zachary Florence


Shauna Black (Titus Andronicus, As You Like It, Dream in High Park/Canadian Stage)
Sarah Dodd (The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs, Tarragon Theatre)
Kate Hennig (Billy Elliot on Broadway; series regular on TMN’s Bomb Girls)
Christopher Stanton (Possible Worlds, Talk Is Free Theatre/BeMeTheatre Munich)
Nicole Underhay (The Shipping News, Miramax Pictures)
Elizabeth Tanner (The Seagull, Upstart Theatre)

Little Death cast photos by Emily Lockhart | Photography + Design (emilylockhart.ca)

Little Death premieres as part of The RISER Project, a collaborative producing model presented by Why Not Theatre, with the generous support of the Toronto Arts Council and Canadian Heritage. This production of Little Death is made possible by lead supporting partner Koffler Centre of the Arts. For more information and to order tickets, click here.




Photo credit: Bronwen Sharp

Photo credit: Bronwen Sharp

A graduate of the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme in London, UK, Daniel Karasik is a recent winner of the CBC Literary Award for Fiction and the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award. His plays have been produced across Canada, in the United States, and frequently in translation in Germany; his most recent Toronto production, The Biographer, garnered a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Outstanding New Play. He’s the author of two volumes of plays published by Playwrights Canada Press, a poetry collection with Cormorant Books, and a short story collection forthcoming in 2017 from Guernica Editions. He has new plays in development with Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, where he’s 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 theatre and politics at danielkarasik.com.

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