- Queer and Now
In their introduction to Q2Q: Queer Canadian Performance Texts, the editors make an important observation with regard to the texts they have brought together in the collection: “The only categorical statement that can be made about the workings of queer theatrical style … is that such workings resist categorization” (vi). It is indeed a challenge to anthologize the many diverse voices in contemporary queer Canadian theatre and performance while also accounting for perspectives from artists, scholars, administrators, and practitioners working today. As theatre scholar David Román has observed, any engagement with the contemporary is also a necessary engagement with history, especially when accounting for the marginalized and often-silenced queer voices that came before; following his definition, Q2Q uses the framework of queer resistance to compose a con/temporary history that reflects what Román calls “a critical temporality that engages the past without
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being held captive by it and that instantiates the present without defining the future” (1).
The essays and performance texts included in these volumes address the necessary slippage of the term ‘queer,’ which implies a fluid identity in terms of both sexuality and gender, as well as intersections with race, ability, age, and other aspects of identity. The volumes engage productively with queer as a mode of critical discourse that also resists concrete definition, situating queerness within a uniquely Canadian context. While the growing number of queer performances and plays in the United States and the United Kingdom have resulted in a great number of critical companions and performance anthologies, there has been relatively less output on queer Canadian theatre despite its rich history of queer theatre practices. These volumes serve to bridge a gap existing in the scholarship on the historical genealogy of Canadian LGBTQ2+ theatre and performance, and the books cast a wide net in terms of genre to include plays, musicals, autobiographical solo performance, digital performance, and drag, to name just a few.
Despite the potential pitfalls of having such an open-ended theme for a collection without a specific organizing principle other than ‘queer,’ Q2Q provides an unprecedented compendium of perspectives from across Canada’s vast landscape—scholarly and artistic alike—while being inclusive of diverse identities and perspectives from within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, Two-Spirit and queer communities, both locally and nationally. While other recent anthologies have focused on queer identity in Canadian performance, they have done so from more specific vantage points, such as Queer/Play: An Anthology of Queer Women’s Performance and Plays (2017), edited by Moynan King, or Jean O’Hara’s Two-Spirit Acts: Queer Indigenous Performances (2013). In contrast, Q2Q includes perspectives from positions of difference across the queer community. This is undoubtedly the result of the collection’s genesis out of a major consortium held in Vancouver in July 2016 entitled Q2Q: A Symposium on Queer Theatre and Performance in Canada, the first of its kind in Canada. Uniquely, the conference sought to put into conversation Canadian theatre and performance scholars together with the artists, producers, curators, and administrators contributing to the LGBT2Q+ live-arts scenes and cultures across the country. The symposium addressed important questions surrounding not only queer aesthetics but also the ways in which the histories, places, and forms of queer performance have contributed to the social and political developments of LGBT2Q+ communities across Canada.
The categories of “History,” “Place and Space,” “Form,” and “Diversity” provide the organizing framework for the critical essays included (though specific subheadings do not divide the essays) in Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance—the eighth volume in the New Essays in Canadian Theatre series, which focuses on critical histories of theatre in Canada. Productively, the essays not only historicize the...