Looking Back: Where have we come from?

Hello everyone,

I apologize for my absence over the past two or three weeks. I have had the whirlwind experience of moving in Montréal. I have moved from an area that was primarily Anglophone to an area that is much more of a mix. There are interesting challenges that I am experiencing now that you will be reading in these plays.

On excursions into our new neighbourhood, my partner and I have interacted with both French and English Montréalers. While I generally begin my conversations in French, he speaks in English. I have noticed a distinct difference in how we are treated when this happens. This has not been my experience everywhere in the city, but we now live in St. Henri, which is one of the older areas of town. Rue Vinet is just a mere two blocks away from us and that was the main artery for business until the 1960s when the city decided to level most of the surrounding area.

There is a pain here, a wound that has not healed. But there is also a sense of hope and a deeply rooted sense of community and courage. The area is being gentrified and revitalized. And so is the history. Museums, markets, squares, parcs, they are all named after someone in Québec’s vibrant history and the locals who have lived in the area for generations are more than happy to tell you all about it. It’s wonderful.

That is a long and personal introduction to an article that I am inviting you to read before I discuss the October Crisis, which will be in my next post. After a lot of thoughts, I have decided that it is better for me to focus on context in these entries rather than on playwrights and plot. Heather is doing such a great job talking about the plays and the authors, and Google can fill in the missing biographical information. But the context, the nuances of the political situation, and resources to help you better understand what was going on – that’s what I can help with.

And so, without any further ado, I am offering to you Quebec’s Theater of Liberation by Edwin Joseph Hamblet. This article was published in Comparative Drama in 1971, so just following the October Crisis of 1970. I would normally prefer to cite (or suggest) more recent articles, but as I am looking through the historical lens, this one is actually the right article to read. Hamblet provides an overview of the theatre situation with regards to nationalism and the politics of the times from Gratien Gélina’s Ti-Coq (1948) to Robert Gurik’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic into Hamlet, Prince of Québec (1968). His article takes the historical context I have provided in my blogs thus far and applies it to the major theatrical works of the mid 20th century.  It will solidify for you what both Heather and I have been discussing in our posts. ~AB, Dramaturg

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