Department of English Publications


Queer Theatre in Canada (Review)

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Winter 2010






University of Toronto Quarterly

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Given the controversy that has attached to 'queer' over the past few years in gay, lesbian, bi, and trans communities both inside and outside the academy, I initially approached this book with apprehension. Kerr and her contributors, however, make the problematics of 'queer' very much their subject matter, though not always in overt ways. The book can be divided roughly into three sections: early scholarly work in Canada on gay theatre, including a handful of papers from the 1990s; work from 2001 to 2005 on topics that range from gay and lesbian theatre to lesbian performance art, drag performance of all kinds, and trans performance; and the commissioned essays (all dating from 2007). This last group provides a context, as well as a history, for the earlier work in the book, and I would recommend that those less familiar with the subject matter start here. Among the commissions, work by J. Paul Halferty, Sky Gilbert, and David Allan King offers three different perspectives on the shifting meaning of the term queer in Canadian performance circles since the founding of the iconic Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in 1979, Kerr and Louise Forsyth think retrospectively about lesbian representation in the Canadian theatre market over the last three decades, Ann Holloway does dyke comedy, and Frances Latchford and J. Bobby Noble reread contemporary drag. The collection ends with Mariko Tamaki's brief, loving paean to the Cheap Queers cabaret, a wonderful charge of utopic hope for the future.

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