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Realizing the flexible imaginary : Canadian identity in contemporary theatre Hopton, Tricia

Abstract

Using Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities" and Michael Billig's "Banal Nationalism", this paper searches for Canadian identity in five contemporary Canadian plays. The plays are from writers of different ages, genders, ethnicities and parts of Canada, and span approximately 25 years. The dramatic texts include David French's "Jitters", Kelly Rebar's "Bordertown Café", Joan MacLeod's "Amigo's Blue Guitar", Djanet Sears' "Harlem Duet" and Camyar Chai, Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef's "The Adventures of Ali and Ali and the Axes of Evil". The paper determines, after much exploration of the plays' characters and their actions, that flexibility is the notion reinforced as the Canadian ideal. The multicultural, liberal, egalitarian nation of Canada imagines itself as able to shift or change whenever necessary. With respect to individual identities, group dynamics and inhabited spaces, this flexibility is requisite for Canadian citizens. The mimetic nature of theatre suggests it maintains an important role in the continual quest to discern the Canadian identity. In mirroring society, the theatre offers a clear indication of the perspectives which dominate the imaginations of Canadian playwrights and, therefore, their plays. The theatre and society will continue to reflect one another; in Canada, they will do so with flexibility.

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