Patricia Joudry | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Patricia Joudry

During the 1950s, Joudry turned to more serious dramatic writing for radio, television and stage. Her best-known play, Teach Me How to Cry, was first produced on CBC radio and television in 1953.
Patricia Joudry
Patricia Joudry was one of the few Canadian dramatists of her era with an international reputation (photo by John Steele courtesy Estate of Patricia Joudry).

Patricia Joudry

 Patricia Joudry, writer (born at Spirit River, Alta 18 Oct 1921; died at Powell River, BC 28 Oct 2000). Patricia Joudry grew up in Montréal but moved to Toronto in 1940 to write and act for radio. Over the next decade, she became one of the most successful radio comedy writers in North America. She wrote and starred in the weekly situation comedy series Penny's Diary on CFCF Radio (1941-42) and CBC Radio (1942-44). In 1945 Joudry won a four-year contract to co-author the weekly The Aldrich Family situation comedy series for NBC Radio in New York; it was the most popular and highest paid situation comedy program in the US.

During the 1950s, Joudry turned to more serious dramatic writing for radio, television and stage. Her best-known play, Teach Me How to Cry, was first produced on CBC radio and television in 1953. It was well received off-Broadway in New York in 1955 and won the Dominion Drama Festival's best play award in 1956. A drama about the maturation of 2 teenage lovers and the conflict between restricting family ties and individual freedom and self-realization, it was retitled Noon Has No Shadows and was the first all-Canadian production to play the London West End in 1958. Universal International Pictures released a film version as The Restless Years the same year.

Joudry and her husband, the theatre photographer John Steele, moved to London in 1957 because of the lack of professional theatres in Canada. In 1960 she became the first Canadian female playwright to be produced on Broadway when her drama Semi-Detached, about the bigoted relationship between an English-Canadian Protestant and a French-Canadian Catholic family sharing a semi-detached house in Montreal, opened at the Martin Beck Theatre. Her farcical comedy Walk Alone Together, inspired by her experiences providing progressive education for her 3 daughters, won second prize in the 1959 STRATFORD FESTIVAL-Globe and Mail Playwriting Competition. Retitled Will You Walk a Little Faster?, it was produced in the London West End, also in 1960.

Patricia Joudry's playwriting in England often displayed Shavian overtones as in her satire of attempted human scientific engineering, Toe of Clay, which she wrote for Rex Harrison in 1965, and in the 1969 comedy Think Again (published by the Canadian Theatre Review in 1979), in which a surgeon transplants a bishop's brain into a baboon.

In England Joudry extensively explored psychoanalysis, Buddhism, radionics and transcendental meditation. She maintained her strong concern with spirituality when she returned to Canada in 1973. Her autobiography, Spirit River to Angel's Roost: Religions I Have Loved and Left (1977), examines the relationship between her spiritual beliefs and creative process. Joudry explored her belief in twin souls in her first published novel, The Dweller on the Threshold (1973). In her finest literary creation, the three-generation Prairie novel The Selena Tree (1980), she again portrayed the "divine discontent" of the opera singer Sophia attempting to realize her god-given talent in a restrictive Prairie frontier town in the early 1900s.

From 1990 to 1993 Patricia Joudry co-authored with the American psychiatrist Maurie D. Pressman the popular spiritual guide Twin Souls, published in 5 English editions in Canada, the US and Australia and in Portuguese, Dutch, Greek, Hungarian and Bulgarian translations. She completed what she considered the major literary work of her life, the unpublished The Continuing City, in 1997. The novel follows the evolution of 4 twin souls from prehistory to ancient China, classical Greece, and Italy during the Inquisition, London in 1780, and present day Vancouver.