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Renate Usmiani.

Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press, c1983.
173pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7748-0176-X.

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by Louise Griffith.

Volume 12 Number 1
1984 January

Second Stage: The Alternative Theatre Movement in Canada by Renate Usmiani is a fine contribution to the slim body of scholarly writing about the Canadian theatre. The author gives an overview of the lively alternate theatre movement in Canada in the seventies and relates it to the mainstream of international theatre. Although aggressively nationalistic, it helped to join Canadian theatre to similar movements elsewhere in the western world.

The opening chapter defines alternative theatre and its models in Europe and the United States, while the following chapter outlines its Canadian antecedents, which centred in Toronto. They include Ken Gass of the Factory Lab Theatre, the Toronto Underground Theatre, and the Playwrights' Conference of 1971. The next chapter describes the success of Theatre Passe Muraille, which has been so influential in many parts of Canada. The following chapters discuss western theatre especially Tamahnous Theatre as well as Savage God and maritime theatre including the Militant Mummers. Two chapters are devoted to alternative Quebec theatre and its role in the Quiet Revolution. The final chapter sums up Usmiani's conclusion that the alternative theatre performed a significant role in preparing Canada for theatrical nationhood. The book concludes with a section of footnotes, a four-page bibliography of original works and secondary material, and a well-prepared index.

Librarians in secondary schools, especially where dramatic arts is a subject, colleges, universities, and public libraries will want to purchase this book. It is a valuable, and virtually unique, source of reference material on Canadian theatre. Also the many Canadians who have enjoyed attending the popular alternative theatre performances will appreciate hearing their beloved plays discussed competently and dispassionately by a shrewd and erudite scholar. Let us hope for more enlightening books from this learned theatre lover.

Louise Griffith, Agincourt, ON.
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