Stage Door News

London: The Grand Theatre presents Margaret Atwood’s “The Penelopiad” January 22-February 9

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace) brings her acerbic wit and inspired originality to the Spriet Stage this January with the Grand Theatre production of THE PENELOPIAD, her sly spin on Homer’s The Odyssey. This epic retelling of The Odyssey through Penelope’s eyes stars one of Canada’s finest classical actors, Seana McKenna, in her only stage appearance this year, directed by acclaimed actor/director Megan Follows. The Title Sponsor for THE PENELOPIAD is Women for Women (W4W).

THE PENELOPIAD, Ms. Atwood’s daring – and shall we say ‘timely’ - response to Homer’s The Odyssey, is a provocative, brilliantly funny, and contemporary look at one of history’s most powerful myths, giving voice to Penelope and the chorus of ten handmaidens. It’s a story that Ms. Follows calls “more relevant than ever.”

“A story that began as a myth, a legend, passed on through generations of orators, written down at some point and rewritten from there, has reverberated through our literary canon for centuries. Eventually, in Atwood’s hands, it shifted perspectives and mediums. The woman who was rendered a footnote in the saga of her husband’s life becomes the protagonist. The play asks us to examine the intersections of narrative that make up our history, to reckon with that honestly, and to consider the cost of our complicity as we go on to tell and retell our stories,” said Ms. Follows, award-winning film and stage star who played the title role of Penelope in Nightwood Theatre’s 2013 production.

“I came to this work first as an actor, and in my experience, speaking Atwood’s words is like chewing glass. When you’re in her world it is so arresting, sharp, delicate, and dangerous, and yet beautiful and delicious. It is an honour to approach this work as director this time around, and I am thrilled to hear these words brought to life anew here at the Grand,” said Ms. Follows.

Seana McKenna returns to the Grand Theatre after more than 20 years, starring as Penelope, the famously faithful wife of the Greek hero Odysseus who finally gets to tell her side of the story. Margaret Atwood’s THE PENELOPIAD is Ms. McKenna’s only scheduled stage engagement of 2019, after which she embarks on a professional hiatus celebrating her 40th year as an actor. Ms. McKenna’s distinguished career includes 27 seasons as a company member at the Stratford Festival, this past season starring as Mary Tyrone in LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and the titular role in JULIUS CAESAR. As well, Ms. McKenna starred in and directed the Groundling Theatre Company’s production of KING LEAR. This past season, Ms. McKenna was appointed to the Order of Canada.

“It is one thing to read Atwood, yet another to experience her words on the stage,” said Dennis Garnhum, Grand Theatre Artistic Director. “Listen closely as these women from ancient times speak modern truths.”


The Grand Theatre continues its commitment to accessibility initiatives for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing theatre patrons.

Open Caption performances: Wednesday, January 30 at 1:00pm and 7:30pm.

To book tickets, please email

The Wednesday Speakeasy Series

Following each Wednesday evening performance, patrons are invited to extend their theatre experience and get closer to the artists with exclusive talks, casual conversations, and spontaneous happenings in the relaxed atmosphere of the Poster Lounge.

Wednesday Speakeasy: January 23 & 30 and February 6.

Pre-Show Theatre Talks

Arrive a little early to the Wednesday matinee and join host James Stewart Reaney as he sparks creative conversations about the production.

Pre-Show Theatre Talks with James Stewart Reaney: Wednesday, January 30 at 12pm.

The Grand Theatre gratefully acknowledges Season Sponsor BMO Financial Group and Title Sponsor Women for Women (W4W), a group of bold, curious, audacious, and creative women with one common passion: To celebrate, support and advance the work of women in Canadian Theatre – starting in our home town, in our theatre.

Margaret Atwood’s THE PENELOPIAD is on the Spriet Stage from January 22 thru February 9. Tickets range from $29.95 to $86 and are available at, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the Box Office, 471 Richmond Street. Prices include HST and are subject to change.

Photo: Seana McKenna. © 2017.