The Queen of Queen Street

The Queen of Queen Street



About the book

This play goes behind the headlines to examine the life of Bertha Rand, Winnipeg’s notorious Cat Lady, who battled her neighbours and city hall to save her more than fifty cats. Hunter delves into Rand’s tragic life of poverty and deprivation, giving a sensitive portrayal of the circumstances that led Rand to retreat into squalid isolation.

About the author

Hunter, Maureen

Maureen Hunter is one of Canada's most accomplished playwrights. She is the author of eight full-length plays, including Wild Mouth, Vinci, Atlantis and Transit of Venus, the first Canadian play ever produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company of Britain. In 2007, Transit of Venus premiered as an opera at Manitoba Opera, with music by Victor Davies and libretto by Hunter. Her work has been produced extensively in Canada, as well as in Britain and the U.S. and by CBC and BBC Radio. It has been nominated for two Governor General's Awards, two Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Outstanding New Play) and the Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. Other plays include Beautiful Lake Winnipeg and Footprints of the Moon.



A cat is a miracle, that's what I believe. Lights up the house, like—electricity. First you have nothing but candles, and kerosene lamps, and you stumble around in the dark, banging your toes. Straining your eyes. Then you take a cat in your lap and—snap! Revelation!


So. That's it, then, that's settled. A house, and a cat. That's my future right there—sprawled across my knee like a map.

Shift to Queen Street. Autumn, late 1960s. The lights peppering the stage begin to move, sway, swirl.

What's that? What's happening?

Picks up the cat, rises, turns upstage.

And what's this? Another cat? And another, and another and another and—and they all want to be with me! Well. Never thought of this, never thought of being—popular. Oh, just look. Beautiful, did you ever in your life see anything so...hungry, though. Why are they all so hungry? Why, these cats are starving! That's people for you. Oh yes! That's the milk of human kindness. Well, don't you worry, kitty-cats. You've come to the right place now. You've found your way to the arms of the queen of Queen Street!


The play deals with poverty, both physical and emotional. With the pain of loss, the search for love and warmth. And most of all, it's an extended meditation—a very poetic meditation at times—on the nature of madness. It's not about… >>

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