Accepting new bookings for "Ducks on the Moon" Spring/Summer 2013

Ducks on the Moon

Written and performed by Kelley Jo Burke


runs 73 minutes

designed for in situ, found set production 

FMI info, and photos from the production go to my web site: 

$300/show plus travel



About “Ducks on the Moon”

“It’s a triumph of the human spirit, isn’t it?”
(audience comment, Regina premiere)

“Ducks on the Moon” is writer-documentarian Kelley Jo Burke’s “99% true” performance documentary about the first five years with her son, who in the play she calls “Noah”, because as she says, “My need for anecdotes does not trump my family’s need for privacy.”

In this non-fiction solo performance piece, Kelley Jo begins her talk to the audience on the day after her five year old autistic son has had dental surgery in the hospital. It hasn't been an easy 24 hours. She is almost immediately interrupted by her unseen, but very much felt, son, who continues to make appearances (of which the audience hears only Kelley Jo’s portion) throughout the performance.

In a series of stories and movement, the performer reflects on the boy's birth, and early childhood, and attempts to answer the question, "when did you first know that Noah was ...different?"

Through the stories the audience gets to share Kelley Jo’s learning curve as she meets not the child she expected but the child she has. The child has obvious differences, but Kelley Jo’s resistance to the idea of the child's autism is equally obvious. The question becomes, how bad will things have to get before this parent sees her child as who he is?

Ultimately, the piece is about the passage from denial to acceptance, not just for the parent of an autistic child, but any parent, making the transition from clinging to her expectations of motherhood, to the realities of life with her particular child. It is funny, heart-breaking and both entertaining and informative.

“Ducks on the Moon” was the winner of the 2009 City of Regina writing award. It has been performed in across Western Canada, by Kelley Jo Burke, with the Curtain Razor’s Theatre Co. 2009/10 season tour being a highlight.

“Ducks on the Moon” has been made into a documentary for the CBC radio program IDEAS, first broadcast on January 25th, 2010. A book of the same name, which includes the play, the interviews done for the documentary and other support material, was released fall 2010 by Hagios Press (see below).

Response to “Ducks on the Moon”

Susan Ouriou (novelist and translator)

“Kelley Jo Burke's… one-woman show is an unflinching look at one mother's hard day's night bringing up her autistic child. What we have seen so far is full of wisdom, wit, brutal honesty, and a willingness to challenge and be challenged. She gives voice to the fear, despair, love, and wonder of "special" mothering and a demonstration of the courage it takes, day after day after day, to drill into the hard rock of love, patience, creativity, and combativity that bringing up Noah requires. Thanks to Burke's gifts as a playwright, we anticipate a theatre piece that allows us to share in the triumphs and tragedies of the Noahs and Noahs' families of the world.”

Di Brandt (poet and teacher)

“It's ever so difficult to capture the sweaty anxious adoring pleasurable mix of giving birth and mothering young children in words. In this vivid monologue, Kelley Jo Burke manages that impossible task with verve and panache. The child in this case is not only young and demanding, but extraordinarily so, an autistic toddler, who can't sleep through the night without falling out of bed and injuring himself, who can't let go of his mother's hand or skin for even a second. The mother in this case is energetic and articulate in her response to the child, taking us through the swirl of emotions and ambivalences, the sorrow, guilt, weariness, anger, wonder and joy of mothering such a needy but also eerily gifted child, an increasingly common challenge in our time. This is sharply delineated human drama at its most tender, most vulnerable, most courageous. Excellent theatre.”


Karen Jeffrey, artistic director, Sunset Theatre

"Ducks on the Moon" by Kelley Jo Burke is a journey of the un-daunting spirit of a mother and an invitation to the open heart of a child, filled with wonder, awe and courage. It puts a whole new perspective on what it means to be a mother. It's honest- raw- and moves us to take a deeper look at our life, children and loves and examine not what we see but perhaps what we've missed!”


About Kelley Jo Burke

Kelley Jo Burke is an award-winning playwright and poet, a director, storyteller, documentarian, and broadcaster. Her plays have been produced and published in Canada, and around the world, including her stage plays, “Ducks on the Moon”, "The Selkie Wife", "Jane's Thumb", and "Charming and Rose: True Love” and her most recent radio play "Big Ocean", which was heard in 7 countries in 2000.

She dramaturges, directs and produces for stage and radio and is the host/producer of CBC Saskatchewan’s radio art performance hour SoundXchange. She has written and produced a number of documentaries for CBC Radio’s Ideas, including 2010’s “Ducks on the Moon: A Parent Meets Autism”.

She is the 2009 winner of the Saskatchewan Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts.


For more information, please feel free to e-mail me or call

Kelley Jo Burke

306 347 0757/306 596 6740



Re: DUCKS on the Moon: A Parent Meets Autism
By Kelley Jo Burke

Hagios Press
ISBN 978-1-926710-07-5

“People always ask me when I knew that Noah was …different. I never know how to answer that question. Knew is a really strong word.”

Hagios Press is pleased to announce the release of Ducks on the Moon: A Parent meets Autism by Regina writer and broadcaster Kelley Jo Burke. In this unique book Burke covers the first five years in her evolving relationship with her autistic son.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), also known as autism, is a neurological disorder that causes a development disability. It affects the way the brain functions, resulting in difficulties with communication and social interaction, unusual patterns of behavior, activities and interests.
There are approximately 200,000 individuals with ASD in Canada and it is estimated that one in every 150 children is born with an autism spectrum disorder. Ducks on the Moon: A Parent Meets Autism is one of the first books published in Canada that gives witness to the experience of parents of autistic children. Ducks on the Moon: A Parent Meets Autism includes the text of Kelley Jo Burke’s dramatic “stand-up” documentary that provides an honest, raw and often humorous portrayal of day to day life in a family with an autistic child. As a crucial resource for parents the book includes current and salient interviews with other parents of children with ASD as well as leading experts in their field, including Dr. Peter Szatmari and Dr. Rita Jordan.

While engaging the general reader, this is a book that challenges misconceptions about ASD, and offers provocation and inspiration to parents and teachers who have an autistic child in their lives.

Ducks on the Moon is available on better on-line book sellers. Contact Hagios Press ( for more information. Or request it at your local bookstore.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Crowdsourcing for Somewhere, Sask. almost there! | Main | Thanks to everyone who has contributed to "Somewhere, SK." »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>