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date: 16 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reconsiders the position of the Stratford Festival, North America’s largest repertory theatre, in Canadian cultural criticism. It reassesses the largely negative portrait of the Festival in post-centennial theatre criticism by challenging assumptions about the City of Stratford in the “localist” critique of the Festival that was formulated by the alternative theatre community in the 1970s and subsequently enshrined in Canadian theatre criticism. This chapter uses local histories and archival documents to identify the local antecedents of the Festival, to question the factors conventionally used to explain the Festival’s emergence, and to reconfigure the relation of the local to the national in criticism of the Festival by highlighting the cultural productions that have grown around it, with particular emphasis on the poetry and drama of James Reaney. Finally, this chapter interprets the Festival as the outgrowth of a “textual community” that dates back to the city’s founding in 1832.

Keywords: Canadian cultural criticism, Stratford Festival, Canadian theatre, James Reaney, theatre criticism

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