The Terroir of Minority Canadian Theatre: Resisting Acclimatization
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Individually and collectively, visible minority theatre artists in Canada dramatize their distinctiveness and their differences through the stories they tell. Their need to express their “terroir” may be impelled by a desire to reify a particular immigrant varietal within a dominant culture, or it may be an attempt at acclimatization – expressing the ways in which different cultures may by hybridized. The complexity of these productions by culturally divergent theatre groups is compounded by a radically diverse audience response, which can result in internal fractures and disruptions, as was the case with the response from the Black community to the production of da Kink in my hair by Trey Anthony. Can any playwright, theatre company, critic or audience member purport to speak “for” or “to” a specific community? Do the words of one individual playwright, expressed through actors, set design, and lighting, constitute a communal voice? Do the issues explored in the play speak to the values of a particular ethnic group? Are the assumptions about and expectations for ethnic theatre different from those of more “mainstream” theatre, and will they shift according to the ways in which these “Other” theatres become more inclusive? This paper will consider the recent mandates and productions of three Toronto theatres -- Obsidian, fu-Gen Asian-Canadian Theatre, and Cahoots Theatre Projects -- in an attempt to address these questions.