Committing Theatre

Theatre Radicalism and Political Intervention in Canada

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgements ** Chapter 1** Purposeful Performance and Theatrical Refusals ** Chapter 2** Class, Spectatorship, and the Unruly: The Nineteenth Century ** Chapter 3** Mobilized Theatre and the Invention of Agitprop ** Chapter 4** Six Comrades and a Suitcase: From Agitprop to “Eight Men Speak” ** Chapter 5** Crafting Theatre Work: Mid-Century Radicalism ** Chapter 6** Generation Agitprop, with Puppets ** Chapter 7** A Case of Cultural Sabotage: The Mummers Troupe ** Chapter 8** Powering Structures and Popular Theatre ** Chapter 9** Out There: Digital Spaces, Chaos Aesthetics, Heritage Guerillas ** Coda** Out There, In Here ** Notes** Bibliography Index


Winner of the Ann Saddlemyer Award from the Canadian Association of Theatre Research. Finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize from the Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures

Committing Theatre offers the first full-length historical study of political intervention theatre and theatrical spectatorship in English Canada. Building on twenty years of research and engagement in the field, this book?s historical narrative frames close-up examples of how theatre artists have intervened in and engaged with political struggle from the mid-19th century to the present. Lumber-camp mock trials, Mayday parades and street protests, the Workers Theatre Movement, agitprop theatre, the counter-culture theatre of the 1960s and 1970s, and more recent anarchist theatre collectives all played a role in a vibrant and unique radical theatre culture that went largely unnoticed, unrecorded, and undocumented by the professional theatre establishment.


In Filewod’s hands, Canadian theatre history becomes a metaphor for the development of the modern Canadian nation-state and a transnational culture pressing ever more insistently against our borders.

- Quill & Quire