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Sunday March 28, 2010 in Books
“I don’t see how a play can be Canadian. I don’t think there are any plays that you could call strictly Canadian … What does that phrase mean?”
Now, thirty-three years after Canadian directors spoke their minds, or rather shrugged their shoulders at the seeming hopelessness of de-colonizing Canadian theatre, this fourth edition of the “classic” Modern Canadian Plays sets out for us an even broader range of plays than previous editions, outlining a Canadian drama-scene that is far from colonial, inert, middle-class, or middle-aged. Spanning the years from 1967 to 1997, this anthology will likely continue to be the standard anthology for Canadian drama—and not without good reason.
Edited by Jerry Wasserman—professor at the University of British Columbia, theatre critic for CBC, and one of Vancouver’s most recurring (and memorable) faces on television— Volume I still contains plays such as George Ryga’s seminal and highly political The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (first performed in 1967, it was described as a “cicatrice” of Canadian society that “showed the bleeding flesh beneath”), as well as Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles-Soeurs (one of the most critically acclaimed plays in Canada, translated from the original, controversial, joual). But more to the point, this edition of Volume I carries with it an even more distinct flavour of adventurousness in its juxtaposition of plays that are strikingly, even wildly, various—plays that can only be said to cohere around the difficulty of amorphous notions such as social justice, cultural belonging, and the existence of a collective past.
The plays in this fourth edition of Modern Canadian Plays: Volume I date from 1967 to 1986:
The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga
Fortune and Men’s Eyes by John Herbert
Les Belles-Soeurs by Michel Tremblay
Leaving Home by David French
1837: The Farmer’s Revolt by Rick Salutin and Theatre Passe Muraille
The St. Nicholas Hotel by James Reaney
Zastrozzi by George F. Walker
Billy Bishop Goes to War by John MacLachlan Gray with Eric Peterson
Balconville by David Fennario
Doc by Sharon Pollock
Drag Queens on Trial by Sky Gilbert
The Occupation of Heather Rose by Wendy Lill
ISBN 13: 9780889224360 | ISBN 10: 889224366
7 W x 10 H x 1 D inches | 464 pages
$39.95 CAN / $39.95 US
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA002000
4th edition, revised
QUOTES OF NOTE
“The anthology of choice for most courses … both Jerry Wasserman and Talonbooks continue to expand, update, and broaden the representational range of the standard teaching anthology in the field. One can only look forward to the fifth edition, and all those to follow.”
– Ric Knowles, Canadian Literature
About the ContributorsJerry Wasserman
Professor of English and Theatre at the University of British Columbia and a professional actor, Jerry Wasserman has written and lectured widely on Canadian theatre, dramatic literature, theatre history, modern fiction, and blues music; publicly interviewed writers and theatre artists ranging from Margaret Atwood to Stephen Sondheim; and served for over fifteen years as a drama critic on CBC Radio. He is currently theatre critic for The Province newspaper and editor of Vancouverplays.com, an informative Web site that provides up-to-date listings and reviews of local theatre performances. Wasserman grew up in New York and attained an M.A. in English from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Cornell, specializing in twentieth-century literature and drama. He started teaching at UBC in 1972; though his initial research focus was on fiction, his work in the theatre as an actor soon led him to teach mainly drama courses, eventually creating a course in Canadian drama.
In addition to his scholarly accomplishments, Wasserman continues to maintain a busy career as an actor. A seasoned veteran on the Vancouver theatre scene, he has also made over two hundred appearances on film and television. For more information on Wasserman and his work, please visit his faculty webpage. His acting credits may also be found here.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.