Eight Men Speak
And Other Plays from the Canadian Workers' Theatre

Wright, Richard; Endres, Robin
Publisher:  New Hogtown Press, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  1976
Pages:  148pp   ISBN:  0-919940-03-X
Library of Congress Number:  PS8313.E54   Dewey:  812'.5'208
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6709

Eight plays presented by the Canadian Worker's Theatre in the 1930s.

This anthology includes eight different plays presented by the Canadian Worker's Theatre that document the turbulent time period of the Great Depression. Dominant themes include fraudulent politicians, unemployment, and the effect of art on politics. Wright and Endres published these plays because of their history of censorship and political struggle. The scripts printed were inaccessible to the public after the Second World War. The editors hope to provide an understanding of an artistic response to the economic and social crisis of world capitalism, the Great Depression, by a politically inspired group.

The works in this anthology are dominated by two characteristics of New Canadian Nationalism and Canadian Literature: First, the increased unearthing and printing of lost texts due to an increased interest in Canadian literature and the need to study it in school. Second, an analysis of radical movements, which stems from an urge to rewrite history according to the worker's perspective. The authors seek to encourage others to include cultural artifacts within Canadian radical history. Furthermore, the book coincides with the goal of reclaiming protest literature not usually found in Canadian literature anthologies and collections. The editors also want to challenge the dominant approaches in the theories of Northrop Frye and Margaret Atwood, which ignore the role of protest and radical literature.

The introduction provides a brief but comprehensive history of Canadian political theatre, its censorship, and reactions of both the media and public. All eight plays fall into the genre of Agitprop, political propagandist theatre; a technique also used by the conservative party in the 1930s in constructing the political characters of Sage and Bill in order to promote conservative party interests. Amongst the plays reprinted are: Joe Derry, about a leader of the communist league; War in the East, a plot of Japanese soldiers who refuse to fight the war against imperial Chinese soldiers and Eight Men Speak, a distinctively Canadian use of political theatre.

[Abstract by Amanpreet Dhami]

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