With four issues annually and a short publication production cycle, Canadian Theatre Review is pretty nimble for a print publication and is able to respond fairly quickly to recent shifts and maintain its focus on innovation and change in the field. Innovation has been a watchword not only for what is written about but also how it is written. Five years is a long time in the life of a publication like CTR, and a lot can change over that span. This issue marks the end of my tenure as co-editor of Views and Reviews. In fact, Natalie Alvarez and I will both be moving on. Given this milestone, it seemed appropriate to take a moment and reflect on the past and ongoing evolution of the Views and Reviews section. Turning around to take in the scenery and consider the path we have travelled, three principal editorial trends stand out.
The first is that the Views and Reviews section has become consciously more autonomous from the main section. What was once the consistent practice of aligning the Views and Reviews section to the theme of the issue has now become the exception. This decision has released V&R editors to make a concerted effort to provide a forum for discussion around pressing questions. I am thinking particularly of a recent issue that asked several theatre companies about their community building practices, and another issue that examined the state of the field in performance studies. The second trend is that we review a lot more books. Publishing in the field of Canadian drama, theatre, and performance seems to be flourishing if the number of books available for review is any indicator. This seems to be true not only of scholarly monographs, but also collections of essays, popular theatre histories, and anthologies of plays. Standing in contrast to the previous observation, the third trend is that we review many fewer productions. The reason is not that there are proportionally fewer productions and so fewer reviews. In fact, the problem is the opposite: there is so much rich and varied performance work being presented across the country that any attempt at documenting this practice is nigh impossible. Even the selection of key innovative productions for review is a daunting task. How to choose? And yet we must try; reviewing performance is a key pillar of the CTR mandate. We are Canadian Theatre Review. It is interesting to note that the early history of CTR was entwined with just such an ambitiously comprehensive project in the Canada on Stage publications (1974–1986), which listed annually every professional production and key data (like opening and closing dates, and the names of the cast and creative team). Although those volumes held pride of place as a valuable resource at the time, the theatrical ecosystem of the country can no longer be adequately compassed in this manner.
New ideas are brewing among members of the editorial team at CTR that have been inspired by recent conversations taking place in the field about the ways that online contexts are changing the landscape of theatre criticism. We look forward to experimenting with the possibilities opened up by CTR’s website to think about not only expanding the number of critical voices that can be included in each issue but also the form that those critical voicings take—from blog posts, to podcasts, to critical dialogues and overtly theatrical enactments of critical exchange.
Meditating on renewing and reviewing, this issue of Views and Reviews presents five book reviews curated around the theme of re-viewing. To begin, reviewer Martha Herrera-Lasso recognizes the much-welcomed work by Natalie Alvarez as editor of Latina/o Canadian Theatre and Performance, the third volume in the New Essays in Canadian Theatre series under the general editorship of Ric Knowles. Recently awarded the Patrick O’Neill prize by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research, Alvarez’s collection brings together a diverse group of scholars and practitioners who demonstrate the ways—by history, by language, by geography—that we are all hailed to think anew about Canadian performance practice, recontextualized by our hemispheric roles and obligations.
This invitation to change...