- Critical Perspectives on Canadian Theatre in English
For teachers, students, and scholars both inside but especially outside the country, there is probably no better way to understand historic and contemporary trends within Canadian drama and theatre than this valuable series that was launched just six years ago. Every facet of the theatre is investigated (and interrogated) within a template that includes scholarly essays and straightforward Q and A, as well as historical texts.
Volume 13, Theatre Histories, edited by Alan Filewod (University of Guelph) provides a broad overview of the new historiography and the various methodologies employed to produce narratives in the postmodernist and postcolonialist periods of academic research. Although the academics here included would not necessarily ascribe their work to one theoretical category or another, the breadth and range of the essays here included speaks to the essentially changing nature of how we view historical research. Richard Plant ('The Toronto Lyceum: A Study of Early Canadian Theatre in Miniature'), Anton Wagner ('Infinite Variety or a Canadian 'National' Theatre: Roly Young and the Toronto Civic Theatre Association, 1945-1949'), and Paula Sperdakos ('Dora Mavor: Before [End Page 330] the New Play Society') provide valuable insights into pioneering organizations and individuals, while Moira Day investigates the homiletics of William Aberhart ('The Evangelist as Subversive Political Dramatist'), recalling the early days of the prairie social gospel movement subverted by the more politically right-leaning Aberhart. Susan Bennett ('Feminist [Theatre] Historiography / Canadian [Feminist] Theatre: A Reading of Some Practices and Theories') and Kym Bird ('Performing Politics: Propaganda, Parody and aWomen's Parliament') provide both a rationale for and a practical example of early Canadian feminist theatre, while Ric Knowles ('Stories of Interest: Some Partial Histories of Mulgrave Road: Groping towards a Method') and Stephen Johnson ('"Getting to" Canadian Theatre History: On the Tension between the New History and the Nation State') examine how the new historiography weaves the definition of theatrical culture into the fabric of the nation-state. Scott Duchesne ('English Canadian Theatre Historiography and the Strange Case of Roy Mitchell') makes a strong case for this theatrical prophet's inclusion into the emerging canon of important practitioners, and Alan Filewod creates similar critical (re)appraisal for the Workers' Theatre Movement ('Performance and Memory in the Party: Dismembering the Workers' Theatre Movement').
Volume 14, 'Ethnic,' Multicultural, and Intercultural Theatre is edited by Ric Knowles and Ingrid Mü ndel. This issue contains a number of seminal pieces (especially from the mid-1980s) that everyone with an interest in the subject matter should read. To see them gathered here in one volume is especially useful for educators. Rita Shelton Deverell speaks from personal experience on the plight of Black actors in her evocative article, 'When the Performer Is Black.' Beverly Yhap recalls the early pioneering work of organizations such as Black Theatre Canada and Theatre Fountainhead while noting a new set of challenges encountered by the next generation ('On Their Own Terms'). Carol Off provides an insightful dissection of the bureaucratic obfuscation that faces many ethnocentric organizations as they pursue funding at various levels of government ('Heritage or Cultural Evolution: Federal Policy on Multiculturalism and the Arts'). Although one could easily expend an entire article reviewing this subject, suffice it to say that equally informative pieces with expert knowledge in the field are authored by Marie Annharte Baker, the late Angela Baldassarre, Mayte Gomez, Lorena Gale, Julie Salverson, Julie Byczynski, Christine Lenze, Jerry Wasserman, Jean Yoon, Guillermo Verdecchia, Helen Gilbert, Aparna Dharwadker, Maureen Moynagh, Joanne Tompkins, Ric Knowles, and Michelle la Flamme.
Volume 15, Design and Scenography, is edited by Natalie Rewa (Queen's University) and includes sixteen contributors addressing the work of about the same number of artists, most of them contemporary. The [End Page 331] issue begins with a welcome revival of Herman Voaden and Lowrie Warrener's text (unproduced) entitled, 'Symphony: A Drama of Motion and Light for a New Theatre.' Conceived as a 'painter's ballet,' and...