In a case study of The Centennial Play, commissioned in 1967 as a showcase the Centennial of Confederation, this article examines the problem of a commemorative performance that has no content or ideological function other than the exercise of power. The play was intended to be distributed free to amateur theatres across the country to spark a national, but after a humiliating and acrimonious premiere at the Ottawa Little Theatre, it was never performed again. This discussion of the play examines the reasons for its failure and argues that they derive from the racial and political hubris of a cultural elite that was blind to the vast changes underway across Canadian society. In the end, The Centennial Play flopped because it expressed nothing but the inability of a passing elite to cohere effectively enough to produce a monument to its own diminishing cultural power.


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pp. 48-51
Launched on MUSE
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