The Breathing Hole

Written by:

Colleen Murphy, with Siobhan Arnatsiaq-Murphy, translated into Nattilingimutut by Janet Tamalik-McGrath

Cast Size:




    British History
    Climate Change


    145 min.

    Year Written:



    The Breathing Hole is a series of stories set in the Canadian Arctic, that intersect in this epic five-hundred-year journey led by a one-eared polar bear named Angu’řuaq.


    Casting Note: The play was originally performed with 24 actors, including 3 children. It can be done with less. There are more male characters than female but I urge perspective productions to incorporate non-gender specific casting and to cast as many Inuit and First Nations actors as possible.

    ACT I
    Hummiktuq, forty-five, widow
    Maniilaq, thirty-five, wife of Nukilik
    Nukilik, thirty, husband of Maniilaq
    Higguk, thirty, husband of Ibřuq
    Ibřuq, thirty-five, wife of Higguk
    Avinngaq, thirty, angakkut [shaman]
    Qiluniq, ten, son of Maniilaq and Nukilik
    Atugauq, eight, daughter of Ibřuq and Higguk
    Qaakšaattiaq, Qiluniq and Atugauq’s young daughter
    Angu’řuaq, polar bear
    Ukuannuaq polar bear, Angu’řuaq’s wife

    ACT II
    Wickers, twenties, midshipman
    Bean, twenties, midshipman’s mate
    Sir John Franklin, fifty-nine, expedition commander
    James Holloway, twenties, second commander of the Erebus Carter, twenties, boatswain
    Ařgiaq, twenties, hunter

    Paningajak, thirties, hunter
    Oliver Morshead, fifty, chief engineer and ice master
    Crew #1 and #2 of the Erebus
    Angu’řuaq, polar bear
    Ukuannuaq, polar bear, Angu’řuaq’s wife

    Matson Day, thirties, entrepreneur, Oceanus Adventures
    Qi’ngaqtuq Donoghue, thirties, biologist
    Tuutalik, thirties, security guard at Circumpolar Oil
    Roy, twenties, ad agency professional
    Larkin, twenties, ad agency professional
    Rivera Garcia, sixties, entrepreneur, Oceanus Adventures
    Mr. Ryan Griffith-Thomson, forties, entrepreneur, Oceanus Adventures
    Mrs. Lori Griffith-Thomson, forties, entrepreneur, Oceanus Adventures
    Lee, thirties, entrepreneur, Oceanus Adventures
    Dufort Bonnière, thirties, entrepreneur, Oceanus Adventures
    Ainsworth, forties, entrepreneur, Oceanus Adventures
    Captain Matias, captain of the Aurora Borealis
    Steward on the Aurora Borealis
    Lucy Larkin’s nine-year-old daughter
    Marianne, forty, Lucy’s grandmother
    Angu’řuaq, polar bear

    First Produced:

    Commissioned by the Stratford Festival and performed at their Studio Theatre from July – October, 2017.


    The Breathing Hole is available through Playwrights Canada Press.

    The Breathing Hole can also be accessed at the Canadian Play Outlet.