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378 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 This is an anthology of film writing styles. It is the result of the heterogeneous accumulation that typifies film studies program design in the contemporary academy. There is something for every taste here, but individual professors may wish to recommend specific articles as role models for their students= writing rather than the vast spectrum provided here. There are, for example, both exhaustive and selective survey articles of various corpora of recent animated film, experimental film, aboriginal film, films made in Newfoundland, and the individuals and studios producing them. D.B. Jones updates his 1982 study of the National Film Board of Canada, offering thumbnail sketches and quick judgments of a remarkable number of its films. He indulges the urge to tilt at >isms= and >house earnestness= and is prepared to regret the omission of >white, Englishspeaking , Canadian males= from the recent >umbrella of concern= for diversity and inclusion. Alongside these are close readings of single films, chatty interviews with filmmakers and studio executives, exercises in cultural recovery, prolegomena to promised or dreamed-for longer works, revisionist revisitings. The shadow of John Grierson, whose name gets easily the most citations in the nineteen-page index, still looms large even if only in four of the pieces. All in all, it is a typical book on Canadian cinema. Only the films and some of the critical frameworks are new. (DAVID CLANDFIELD) Robert Astle. Theatre without Borders Signature Editions. 142. $19.95 In Theatre without Borders, Robert Astle collects interviews with established Canadian practitioners of a kind of theatre that he finds difficult to categorize: >call it clown, mime, mask or physical theatre, imagistic theatre, puppetry or new vaudeville.= The eclectic group of performers he interviews come from across the country: from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Harro Maskow and Robin Patterson of Theatre beyond Words; from Montreal Daniel Meilleur of Les Deux Mondes (formerly Théâtre de la Marmaille) and Yves Dagenais, the creator of the clown Omer Veilleux; from Toronto, Dean Gilmour and Michele Smith of Theatre Smith-Gilmour, Leah Cherniak and Martha Ross of Theatre Columbus, and the master puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, who has recently moved there from Calgary; from Vancouver, Wayne Specht of Axis Theatre Company and the performer and teacher Wendy Gorling; and from Halifax the four members of Jest in Time Theatre (Mary Ellen MacLean, Sherry Lee Hunter, Shelly Wallace, and Christian Murray). Astle, himself a creator of this kind of theatre, explains that he discovered the need for such a book when he first taught an advanced clowning humanities 379 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 course at Concordia University, and found that there was very little source material on Canadian artists to which he could refer his students. In the course of the interviews, he identifies students at various levels as potential readers and invites his subjects to pass on advice for those interested in pursuing this kind of theatre. At the same time, he was motivated by the need to record the work of these established practitioners: in his interview with Leah Cherniak and Martha Burns, he observes, >I thought it was essential to write this book, because in ten years we=re not going to remember what happened at all.= In pursuit of these overlapping goals, his interviews focus on the practitioners= training and working methods. The interviews are supplemented by production photographs, production histories for each company or artist, and, in a few cases, excerpts from scripts. Theater without Borders is more successful as a lively introduction to the selected artists than as a record of their work. While the interviews are informative about the lives and opinions of the individual practitioners and some of the methods of the companies to which they belong, they lack the context necessary to serve as substantial records of these artists= achievements . We are never told, for example, why these particular performers have been chosen (beyond their established careers), why they are grouped together, what their place is within the history of this type of theatre in Canada, or even when Astle conducted the interviews. Certain...


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