In the next several months, you'll be able to visit this section for a quarterly review of what's new, what's hot, and what's trending this season. But for now, we thought it best to get started with a history of the discipline's deep roots in Quebec's Anglo arts community. The following essay can be read in its complete, interactive form at the RAEV.ca website, as well as in the book Minority Report: An Alternative History of English-Language Arts in Quebec, published by Guernica Editions in 2011.
ANGLO-QUEBECOIS THEATRE: FROM COMMISERATION TO CELEBRATION
By Marianne Ackerman
On December 7, 1985, a headline in the Montreal daily La Presse declared: Le théâtre Anglophone à Montréal: pratiquement mort. ("Anglo theatre in Montreal: practically dead.") Eleven years after the election of the Parti Québécois and between two intense referenda campaigns on independence, the province's historically strong English-speaking population was experiencing a flight of people and capital that would see its numbers decrease by some 250,000, and professional prospects for those who stayed substantially diminished. Little wonder an intrepid francophone journalist discovered a minority theatre scene on its deathbed.
The flourishing amateur theatre scene of earlier decades was little known in the Francophone milieu, and not all Anglophones were aware that back in the '50s renowned actors like William Shatner and Christopher Plummer had begun their careers as child actors in Montreal theatre before working in television and film. Expo 67 created a climate of optimism and creativity. The origins of today's English-language theatre scene began with people like Carol Libman, Walter Massey, Victor Knight, Norma Springford and four other playwrights who incorporated Playwrights Workshop Montreal in 1966 as Canada's first play development centre. Also in 1966, Mary Morter founded Instant Theatre which became Centaur Theatre Company in 1969 wit...
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