The Public Servant

Written by Jennifer Brewin, Haley McGee, Sarah McVie and Amy Rutherford

In the spring of 2016, The Public Servant, produced by Common Boots Theatre in association with Nightwood Theatreplayed to sold out houses in Toronto.

Inspired by dozens of interviews with public servants, this laugh-out-loud comedy is a vivid portrayal of never-ending protocols, heroic dedication and the sometimes fuzzy divide between personal need and public good.

Directed by Jennifer Brewin
Starring Amy Keating, Sarah McVie, Amy Rutherford


Madge: Amy Keating
Lois/Creator: Sarah McVie
Cynthia, Various/Creator: Amy Rutherford
Directed by Jennifer Brewin 
Set & Costume Design by Anna Treusch
Lighting Design by Martin Conboy
Sound Design by Michael Rinaldi
Choreography by Kate Alton 
Stage Management by Sandy Plunkett
Production Management by Rebecca Vandevelde
Lighting Design Assistance by Hugh Martignago 

Sponsor The Public Servant: Information package here

An unofficial public service motto is: “fearlessly advise and loyally implement,” but what happens when that advice isn’t heard?

During the Harper government drastic cuts were made to the public service with a loss of over 37,000 jobs and budgets slashed in Veterans Affairs Canada, Environment Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Statistics Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and beyond (stats from the Public Service Alliance of Canada).

Kelly Thornton, Artistic Director of Nightwood Theatre says, “In the face of cutbacks, the muzzling of scientists and under-funding, this play gave voice to public servants in a way that is painfully funny, provocative and powerful. Will things change under the Trudeau administration? This piece speaks to why it’s important that they do.”

Brewin, McGee, McVie and Rutherford together interviewed over 40 public servants of varying ages, at all levels and who had worked in governments under Pierre Trudeau through to Stephen Harper. The team then collectively created the play entirely through improvisation. “We collaborated to tell this thought-provoking, funny story that celebrates the tenacity and flexibility as well as the heartbreak and frustrations experienced of life in the civil service,” says Brewin.

Joining the creative team for the Toronto premiere is celebrated actor Amy Keating who will replace Haley McGee. She joins powerhouse creator/actors Amy Rutherford and Sarah McVie to complete a potent comic triad on stage.

About the play:

Step inside the halls of power as Madge, a young, idealistic and enthusiastic civil servant, gets ready to write her first official memo. The only thing standing in her way are endless revisions, an impossible deadline, funding cutbacks and the ever-shifting world of government protocol. This hard-hitting and hilarious play asks: doesn’t a successful society – one that is engaged, working, healthy and educated – require a successful civil service?

“A fast-paced and hilarious play…satirical without losing honesty.” -The Charlebois Post, Ottawa

“A delightful confection of wit and insight.” -Capital Critic’s Circle, Ottawa