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Collective Encounters

Collective Encounters: Documentary Theatre in English Canada

Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 214
  • Book Info
    Collective Encounters
    Book Description:

    In this study of the genre as it has developed nationally, Alan Filewod examines six landmark examples in terms of their impact on their respective theatres and their role in Canada's cultural development generally.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7310-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  5. 1 The Evolution of Documentary Theatre in Canada
    (pp. 3-23)

    There is an enduring cliché to the effect that Canadian culture has an inherent predilection to the documentary in film, literature, theatre, and visual art. Like many clichés, this one is founded on a reasonable observation. That the documentary has an important place in Canadian culture is readily apparent, but it does not follow that Canadian culture is more partial to the documentary than other cultures, or that Canadians are better – or even more prolific – than others at making documentaries. The idea of cultural bias towards one mode of expression is troublesome. It denies that cultures are processes...

  6. 2 Documentary and Collective Creation: The Farm Show
    (pp. 24-49)

    The dominant form of Canadian documentary had its birth in an unused barn near Clinton, Ontario, in August, 1972, when Theatre Passe Muraille premieredThe Farm Showto an audience of local residents and farmers.The Farm Showis important both as a play and a cultural phenomenon. It stands as one of the finest works of the Canadian theatre, and it became the model for a form of community documentary theatre based on the actorsʹ personal responses to the source material.The Farm Showinspired numerous imitations across Canada, most of which applied techniques of collective creation developed by...

  7. 3 Documentary and Popular History: Ten Lost Years
    (pp. 50-79)

    The Farm Showinitiated the dominant form of Canadian documentary theatre, but the play that may be said to have established the documentary as a popular genre in the minds of critics and audiences derived from another tradition entirely. In February, 1974, less than two years afterThe Farm Show,Toronto Workshop Productions opened its adaptation ofTen Lost Years, a popular and well-received anthology of oral memories about the Great Depression compiled by Barry Broadfoot. Adapted to the stage by Jack Winter, Cedric Smith, and George Luscombe,Ten Lost Yearswent on to become one of the most successful...

  8. 4 Documentary and Regionalism: No. 1 Hard and Paper Wheat
    (pp. 80-111)

    In a period of just under a year, rural audiences in Saskatchewan had the rare opportunity to see two related shows that extended the relationship of documentary and regionalism first suggested inThe Farm Show. In March, 1977, Saskatoonʹs 25th Street Theatre began the first of three tours ofPaper Wheat,and eleven months later Reginaʹs Globe Theatre presented its production ofNo. 1 Hard.The two plays had much in common. Both examined the history of Saskatchewanʹs grain industry; they were both collective creations; both attempted to promote an idea of culture that is at once regional and populist;...

  9. 5 The Political Documentary: Buchans: A Mining Town
    (pp. 112-151)

    In 1974, the Mummers Troupe of Newfoundland introduced a new element into the form of community documentary pioneered by Paul Thompson. Under the direction of Chris Brookes, the Mummers lived for eight weeks in a bunkhouse in the central Newfoundland mining town of Buchans, where they created a documentary at the invitation of the local union of the United Steelworkers of America. LikeThe Farm Show, Buchans: A Mining Townis a collectively created compilation of oral history and folklore which incorporates the process of research into the performance text. Because of this basic similarity of the two, critics have...

  10. 6 Documentary and Audience Intervention: Itʹs About Time
    (pp. 152-181)

    So far I have defined two general approaches to the relation of the actor to documentary material. InTen Lost Years, No. 1 Hard,andPaper Wheatthe actors bear an arbitrary relationship to an autonomous and essentially literary text. There is no direct relation between the matter of the play and the particular actors in a given performance, even though those actors may have contributed to the making of the play. InThe Farm ShowandBuchans,on the other hand, the relation of actor, material, and text is direct, and the text is essentially non-literary. The significance of...

  11. Conclusion: Canadian Documentary Theatre in Context
    (pp. 182-188)

    The six plays examined in this study represent the major directions documentary theatre has followed in Canada. Together they reveal the formal and thematic characteristics that identify the Canadian documentary as a development of documentry theatre in general. By way of conclusion I wish to define these characteristics and consider their place in the context of modern Canadian theatre as a whole, and their effect on contemporary Canadian drama.

    The most notable common features of these plays are their emphasis on collective creation and the transformation of historical or community experience into art. These features are not unique to the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 189-198)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-206)
  14. Index
    (pp. 207-214)