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Shakespeare and Canada

Makaryk, Irena R.Prince, Kathryn (Hrsg.) | University of Ottawa Press | Reappraisals: Canadian Writers

Shakespeare in Canada is the result of a collective desire to explore the role that Shakespeare has played in Canada over the past two hundred years, but also to comprehend the way our country’s culture has influenced our interpretation of his literary career and heritage. What function does Shakespeare serve in Canada today? How has he been reconfigured in different ways for particular Canadian contexts?

The authors of this book attempt to answer these questions while imagining what the future might hold for William Shakespeare in Canada. Covering the Stratford Festival, the cult CBC television program Slings and Arrows, major Canadian critics such as Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, the influential acting teacher Neil Freiman, the rise of Québécois and First Nation approaches to Shakespeare, and Shakespeare’s place in secondary schools today, this collection reflects the diversity and energy of Shakespeare’s afterlife in Canada.

Collectively, the authors suggest that Shakespeare continues to offer Canadians “remembrance of ourselves.” This is a refreshingly original and impressive contribution to Shakespeare studies—a considerable achievement in any work on the history of one of the central figures in the western literary canon.


The best of these essays provide interesting overviews of how Shakespeare is performed in this country, particularly at Stratford. C. E. McGee’s opening chapter on Stratford’s nine productions of The Merchant of Venice is particularly rewarding for its investigation of how Merchant’s characters have been made to evolve. Robert Ormsby offers a detailed analysis of Stratford’s “multinationalist” productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night, cleverly tying director Leon Rubin’s imaginative concepts to Stratford’s role in creating cross-border tourism. Among the other thoughtful contributions are intriguing explorations by Kailin Wright and Don Moore of the CBC’s Slings & Arrows, the TV series inspired by the Stratford Festival; a tough, uncompromising, but gracefully written overview by Sarah Mackenzie of Stratford’s various attempts at acknowledging Indigenous traditions in Canada; and Annie Brisset’s fascinating take on the history of Shakespeare translations and productions in Quebec


IRENA R. MAKARYK. Professor of English, cross-appointed to Theatre, at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests focus on Shakespeare’s afterlife, Soviet theatre, modernism, and theatre during periods of great social duress. Her most recent book is April in Paris 1925: Theatre, Politics, Space (forthcoming).


KATHRYN PRINCE. Theatre historian at the University of Ottawa, where she is an Associate Professor and, in 2016, recipient of the Excellence in Education prize. Her current work focuses on the practice of emotions in early modern drama. She has published widely on Shakespeare in performance from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries.

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