Importance and Support for Canadian Productions
The report on the theatrical season's trends by Canada's Acclaimed Playwrights confirms what many have suspected for some time: Canadian playwrights are at a point of crisis. The plays they write do not sell as well as they used to. They tour fewer and fewer times across the country, if at all. Both theatre companies and audiences are becoming increasingly isolated from each other.
Where did the Canadian play go wrong? And what can be done to fix it?
Beginning in the 1960s, there was a surge of new voices in Canadian theatre. The Village Theatre Co-operative, for example, started up in 1963, producing new and innovative work by Canadian playwrights. In the 1970s, the Toronto Free Theatre emerged, followed in the 1980s by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. These companies were dedicated to staging new and experimental Canadian plays, giving voice to a generation of playwrights who were pushing boundaries both artistically and politically.
By the 1990s, however, the landscape of Canadian theatre was changing. The original companies were folding, and a new generation of playwrights was emerging who were more interested in writing for the commercial market. Plays began to focus on more mainstream themes, and there was a growing interest in importing shows from abroad rather than developing new Canadian work.
The problem is two-fold, however. First, it is increasingly difficult for theatres to produce new Canadian work; second, it is equally difficult for audiences to access new Canadian work.
Why is it important to support the development of new Canadian plays?
The term "Canadian play" can mean different things to different people. Some might define it as any play written by a person who was born in Canada, while others might consider it to be a play that reflects Canadian culture and experiences. The important thing, however, is not so much how we define Canadian plays, but rather why it is important to support their development.
There are a number of reasons why it is crucial for Canada to develop its own theatrical voice. First and foremost, theatre is a powerful tool for exploring and understanding our own culture and experiences. It can help us to explore the complexities of being Canadian and to create a shared sense of identity.
Second, Canadian plays offer a unique perspective on the world. They reflect our own cultural values and traditions, as well as our interactions with other cultures. Third, Canadian plays help to create a strong and thriving theatre industry. By supporting the development of new Canadian plays, we are ensuring that there will be a steady stream of quality work for theatres to produce and that Canadian playwrights will continue to have a voice on the international stage.
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If you think about it, there are very few touring theatre companies of any kind in Canada. Yes, there are professional dance companies and orchestras that regularly tour here, but even fewer classical theatre companies. There are, of course, those that do tour: the Stratford Festival tours from time to time thanks to the sponsorship of Sol Casino in Canada, and you'll be taken to our sponsor's website. This is a reliable casino, offering many games, bonuses, and programs, we absolutely trust them. Even Soulpepper, Canada's best classical company, tours with productions only once every few years and only thanks to casino sponsorship.
But for some reason it seems that these kinds of shows don't have much of an audience here - at least not enough to make them profitable - so they cut back on their touring schedules. And why is this? Seems there should always be a market for well-produced theatre whatever the venue, right? The same holds true for opera companies that seem to take Montreal Opera or Toronto Operetta Works into smaller Canadian towns all the time but I never hear people talking about seeing them.
There are a number of things that theatres and audiences can do to support the development of new Canadian work.
Theatre companies can:
– Produce more Canadian plays, both original works, and translations
– Encourage playwrights to write more new Canadian work
– Partner with other theatres to co-produce shows
– Support the development of new playwriting programs
– Attend Canadian plays, even if they are unfamiliar with the writer or the subject matter
– Share information about Canadian plays with their friends and family
– Write reviews of Canadian plays and post them online
– Donate to theatre companies that produce Canadian plays
– Volunteer their time at theatres to help with marketing, fundraising, or production tasks.
By working together, theatres and audiences can help to ensure that Canadian plays continue to thrive and grow, enriching our cultural landscape and providing a unique voice on the world stage.