Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2019


The astounding increase in immigration and the rise in intercultural relationships within Canadian society resulted in the last decade in the acceptability of a number of dramatic works by ethnic, immigrant and second generation Canadian playwrights. This paper examines through Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce’s theory of semiotics the East-Asian Canadian immigrant experience and the journey of redress in two dramatic works: Marty Chan’s The Forbidden Phoenix (2010) and David Yee’s lady in the red dress (2010). The Forbidden Phoenix and lady in the red dress, address issues related to exclusionary policies against early Chinese immigrants to Canada and historical moments troubled with tension which challenge the audience to examine the legacy of discrimination and prejudices in a nation’s community. The two dramatic texts exhibit a complex network of signals not previously examined in research to date and which according to Saussure and Peirce’s semiotic theory, may not always be written or uttered, rather, they are presented as signifiers which can be mental or sensory impressions by which meaning is both produced and exchanged. The messages communicated between the performers and the audience in both plays are based on the “ensemble of rules” (Keir 22) embedded within the Chinese-Canadian heritage. The conclusions of this analysis reveal that despite past injustices Canada as a nation can through redress achieve reconciliation and exhibit “cross-cultural solidarity” (Kirby et al.100).