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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Roy Mitchell’s 1920 production of Trojan Women may have continued an earlier Victorian project to use classical production (Antigone 1882, 1896) to transform the University of Toronto into the Athens of Canada. However, as an ardent theosophist, Mitchell also captured the spirit of early post-World War I Canada powerfully in the hope that the carnage was cathartic prelude to a millennium of peace—“Eleusis.” The consciously feminist production also drew on the strong campus women’s dramatic societies to honour the sacrifice of the women. Finally, in its nationalistic ambition to create a distinctively Canadian amateur art theater movement out of the new, superbly equipped Hart House Theatre, the production also proved true to a tradition dating back to 1606 of Canadians using classical imagery and drama to express concepts of nationhood and cultural aspiration in the face of hostile outward forces and the terrifying, ecstatic experience of “wilderness” whether psychic or physical.

Keywords: Roy Mitchell, Antigone, Trojan Women, Canada, World War I, theosophy, feminism

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