Early Winnipeg playwrights
Karasick, Irene June
Winnipeg in the Twenties and Thirties had an active theatre community in which thrived several known playwrights. The plays of two in particular, Harry A. Vaughan Green and Maurice Shannon Corbett, were published, as well as produced both in Canadian and American cities. The purpose of this thesis is to define the thematic and dramatic character of these two playwrights, and compare their work to other more widely recognized Canadian plays. The introductory chapter defines the theatrical climate in Canada, and attitudes toward early Canadian theatre in context of the times. Chapters II and III contain an analytical study of the plays of Green and Corbett, while in Chapter IV there is a brief summation of the study of some conclusions on the merit of the Winnipeg plays. The theatrical climate in Canada during the Twenties and Thirties is discussed through the published remarks of certain critics of the times including Fred Jacob, Merrill Denison, Robert Ayre and Herman Voaden. Canadian reticence to their indigenous drama is compared to American indulgence toward their own playwrights and productions. The reinforcement of Canadian colonialism is shown by the way the British were able to exert their influences on Canadian culture and values. The trend to such dependency was deterimental to the establishment of a Canadian theatre. This thesis also traces the influence of the Canadian Authors' Association and their approach to promoting the writing of Canadian plays. Within the context of the Canadian theatrical scene, in which certain playwrights functioned, it became apparent that playwrights whose plays became widely recognized were from Toronto, the centre of theatrical activity in Canada... The representative Winnipeg plays, Green's Death of Pierrot, Forerunners, Good Times Are Coming and Corbett's The Rolling Stone, Luck Dollars and Broken English are shown, in analysis, to have a richness and depth of meaning, as well as a relevance to society in context of the times... The thesis questions the lack of recogntion given the Winnipeg playwrights, since the study reveals that the plays of Green, and Corbett, compare favorably with the frequently anthologized eastern Canadian plays.