Roy Mitchell’s Creative Theatre brilliantly captures a fascinating historical and cultural moment in Canadian history. Mitchell’s treatise remains Canada’s only full-length work of theatre theory that incorporates a concentrated cultural analysis and a performance practice rooted in modernist theatre theory, which simultaneously functions as a transformational spiritual communion and initiation for its practitioners and its audience.
How then is it that it has remained out of print since its original publication in 1929? Creative Theatre is a decidedly unusual text in the annals of Canadian literature, challenging both fields with its recalcitrant presence. It is not a conventional or formally experimental dramatic or literary work, complicating the work of categorization. This re-publication reflects its rightful place in Canadian cultural discourse, as well as the growing interest in ‘lost’ modernist texts that offer a counter-narrative to received ideas and canons of Canadian literature, theatre, and culture.
Mitchell’s commitment to European avant-garde modernist theories and techniques highlights the importance of the Little Theatre movement in the country and its connection to the movements that followed. His equal devotion to theosophy, an occult movement with radical political leanings, arguably contests the image of the staid, protestant society of early-twentieth-century Canada.
Published in English
Scott K. Duchesne taught in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.