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182 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 Although Klinck gives considerable space in his memoir to the Literary History as well as to his involvement in the creation of the New Canadian Library series, he does also talk about his formative years. The first three chapters of Giving Canada a Literary History are a summary of Carl Klinck's early life. And here, too, he could have said so much more than he did. We learn very little that is concrete about his childhood and youth. Instead, in chapter 1, Klinck describes his family in stilted prose; he reveals nothing personal. And even when he remembers his favourite teachers, his descriptions are so sketchy that the reader is left wondering about what has been left out. Consequently, the chapter ends without a believable portrait of Klinck either as a boy or as a promising young scholar. Unfortunately, by the time that Klinck was ready to write this memoir, he had lost the vigour to do so. Consequently, Giving Canada a Literary History is little more than a pastiche of his recollections over a period of many years. While his enthusiasm for Canadian literature is never in doubt, and his contribution to Canadian literature is enormous, his memoir lacks a sustained focus. Further, he is unwilling to reveal himself as a private man, both within his family circle and in his professional relationships. Perhaps only Klinck's biographer will be able to do both the private man and the literary man justice. (DAGMAR NOVAK) Denis W. Johnston. Up the Mainstream: The Rise of Toronto's Alternative Theatres University of Toronto Press. xxii, 336. $45.00; $17.95 paper Up the Mainstream, by Denis Johnston, is the first attempt to present a comprehensive discussion of so-called alternative theatre in Toronto meaning the group of small theatres in the late 1960s that challenged the way Canadians thought about their theatre. In an eminently readable style he brings to light the evolution and development, between 1968 and 1975, of four main companies which are still functioning today: Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre Lab, Tarragon, and Toronto Free Theatre. Several chapters devoted to brief discussions of coeval companies, now no longer extant, demonstrate the breadth of artistic mandates of the burgeoning companies. Johnston points to George Luscombe's Toronto Workshop Production as an early alternative theatre and draws attention to such others as the Global Village, NOwr, the Phoenix, and Open Circle as significant expe.riments. Johnston's approach to this study is a reasonable one. Rather than discussing the literary contribution of these companies, or simply documenting their activity, he has successfully sketched the alternative theatre movement as an interplay of personalities and personal goals within the contemporary cultural context. HUMANITIES 183 In each instance, he provides the reader with biographies of the pivotal figures and outlines how each company was initially a very personal project. Using his own interviews with the founding artistic figures such as Jim Garrard of Theatre Passe Muraille, Ken Gass of Factory Theatre Lab, Bill Glassco of Tarragon, and Tom Hendry of Toronto Free Theatre, in addition to archival material from the Metropolitan Toronto Public Library and the Theatre Archives at the University of Guelph, Johnston provides a running commentary on the theatrical activity of this period from three points of view simultaneously: that emerging from the documents, the personal historical perspective of the practitioners, and his own critical perspective as a theatre historian. Thus, the influences, or rather adaptation of techniques, from Europe or the United States are explained in terms of individual exposure to these methods and their integration into personal visions of theatre in Canada. The company-by-company conceptualization of the study has kept the task manageable, both for Johnston and the reader, but one is made aware of the price of this tight focus. Johnston mentions the summer seasons organized by Keith Turnbull in 1965 and 1966 in London, Ontario , with fellow University of Western Ontario students PaulThompson and Martin Kinch, who later were key figures in Theatre Passe Muraille, and John Palmer's 'New Vic Company' in Stratford in 1967, but these references seem all too brief. The iconoclastic programming of these projects outside...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 182-183
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-25
Open Access
No
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