What should we talk about now?

Any suggestions?

6 thoughts on “What should we talk about now?

  1. I know it’s a little self-serving considering that Staged and Confused’s production of The Crackwalker opens tomorrow, but here it goes:
    Should we be reviving works from the Canadian canon? Is there an audience for it? Is it relevant?

    The argument for:
    America has their giants (O’Neill, Williams, Albee, Miller) but our tradition of writing plays in Canada is fairly young, only really getting going after 1967. To build up our cultural mythology as a nation it is important to revive seminal Canadian works and give them a second life.

    The argument against:
    Those plays have had their day, we should be developing new work. Continuing to cultivate the new Canadian voices who are writing today is the current public funding priority.


  2. I’m for the latter. We’ve got a long way to go to build the bedrock of a theatrical tradition like you indicate already exists in the States, and certainly in Britain. First we build a hip new audience by developing resonant new plays and promoting the living shit out of them, then when our playwright’s works are in demand globally we’re free to re-present historical work.

    If we can develop a few more plays like Scorched and keep the ball rolling, and get them onto the world stage, we’re golden. We’re not far off, some of the work I saw at Mag North is dangerously close to being groundbreaking.

    Developmental funding is the key. Grab ahold of the good works and, with their authors – in workshop with our divinely talented actors – make them Great. Then get ’em on the road.

    Just talking about this gives me an art-on.

  3. Well, we certainly shouldn't be dedicating all our money to revivals of older Canadian plays, but I do think somebody should be making sure that our past successes remain in the consciousness of the theatre-going public and of our up-and-coming theatre artists.

    There are so many awesome plays that do their little three week run, and then die, leaving behind a published text as a corpse if we're lucky. There are only two things that will ensure that those plays have some sort of continuing life; being part of a university curriculum, or having significant revivals. The lack of the latter is why the general public doesn't believe there are great Canadian plays.

    Kudos to Richard Rose for bringing back plays like Scorched, East of Berlin and Leo after their initial runs. Of course he recognizes the financial advantage of reviving these works after their initial sold out runs, here's hoping he'll bring them back again in seven years.

    Kudos to Daniel MacIvor for doing that spectacular run of his solo shows a couple years ago at Buddies, and to Daniel Brooks for bringing back Insomnia, as well as giving Half-Life and Bigger than Jesus a couple shakes at the Toronto audience.

    Kudos to Ken Gass for reviving those George F. Walker plays. On the other hand, Kudos for not programing one this season, it was getting a bit ridiculous. There have been other playwrights who have written for the Factory, no? Let's mythologize them for a change.

    Kudos to Staged & Confused for doing Crackwalker, though Judith Thompson doesn't need to worry about her plays fading into the ether.

    There are Canadian plays that deserve to see the stage again. Who should be staging them? How about Canadian Stage? Hey, how about Soulpepper? It's embarrassing that Soulpepper has been around as long as it has and is only now starting to program Canadian plays. And Albert Schultz complains in interviews about Soulpepper not receiving government funding. If part of their mandate was to revive important Canadian works I'm sure they'd have no problem getting a few pesos tossed their way. Perhaps they could even do something by a playwright other than David French (just a suggestion). They can even tie Canadian revivals into their educational initiatives, get the schools out. It's our history and our culture. There must be a place in the curriculum for that.

  4. One of the continuing issues is that there is such a demand for new Canadian works that many plays are thrown on the deck half baked. They then get published and the next production is quite different from the printed version. {case in point Stephen and Mr. Wilde}
    We need to give more time to the initial production so that what is presented is further along the way. Ken Gass and the Repertory Theatre are putting together an initiative to bring a group of diverse artists together for a cross cultural research project where they take a part of the Canadian canon and cast it diversely. I’m not sure how that will work out but it may be part of the process to bring new life to the standards.

  5. Gotta agree with Robert in regards to Daniel MacIvor’s run of old work at Buddies last year. That production of Monster is among the top three things I’ve ever seen on stage.

    I’d also love to see a new production of Dry Lips Outta Move to Kapuskasing.

    I think the ideal answer here is to do both: revive the canon while developing new work.

    Ultimately, I think the primary marker of a thriving theatre industry is its new work. So whatever we do, let’s build on a model that supports it.

    I suggest, as have others, more aggressive private financing campaigns for new work. Can we wean ourselves off the ever-drying teat of public arts funding? Honestly. It’s killing me.

  6. i too am firmly in the “both” camp.

    and if all of our theatres weren’t being torn down to make room for condos there might actually be room for both.

    i mean honestly, is there anything to be done about that??

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