According to "The Oxford Companion to the Theatre," theatrical performances in Canada began about 400 years ago in Nova Scotia. French plays dominated up to the mid-1700, when provinces outside Quebec began to come into their own. By the mid-1800s, three types of plays abounded: poetic dramas, operetta-style musicals and political satires. In the middle to latter part of this century, French plays by Marcel Dube and Jean-Claude Germain held sway.
And so, in honor of Canada Day, July 1, here are 11 established and/or up-`n' coming Canadian playwrights:
George F. Walker -- Instrumental to the 1970s alternative theatre movement in Canada, Walker's plays include Love And Anger, Zastrozzi, The Art Of War and Nothing Sacred. Off-Off-Broadway's Rattlestick Productions recently presented 3 Walker world-premieres under the umbrella title, Suburban Motel.
Robertson Davies -- Best known as a novelist, Daviesw was a member of the Old Vic from 1938-40. His plays include Overlaid, Fortune My Foe, Love And Libel and 1975's Question Time.
Michel Tremblay -- Strongly influenced by Tennessee Williams, Tremblay may be Canada's most famous gay playwright. His French Canadian works include 1973's Hosanna and 1984's Abertine In Five Times. Robert LePage -- A performer and visual artist, LePage stunned New York last season with his epic, The Seven Streams Of The River Ota. Other works include Polygraph and Needles And Opium.
Eugene Stickland -- A favorite at Alberta's PlayRites festivals, this comic playwright's works include A Guide To Mourning, Sitting On Paradise and Some Assembly Required..
Judith Thompson -- Recipient of two Governor-General's Awards for drama, Thompson's plays include Sled, The Crackwalker (1980), White Biting Dog (1985), I Am Yours (1987) and Lion In The Streets (1990).
Sharon Pollock -- Known for children's plays and works about women, Pollock wrote Blood Relations, about Lizzie Borden and her axe, and The Komagata Maru Incident (1976).
Brad Fraser -- One of the few Canadian dramatists to break across the border in the U.S., Fraser's Unidentified Human Remains And The True Nature Of Love played Off-Broadway at the Orpheum Theatre in 1991.
Dan Needles -- Author of the popular "Wingfield" plays, including the recent Wingfield Unbound, staged at the Stratford Festival.
Carol Shields -- Shields may have won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, The Stone Diaries, but she's also getting attention for her fourth play Thirteen Hands, produced at Canadian Stage in Toronto.
Ann-Marie McDonald -- McDonald's brilliant Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet played at Classic Stage Company in 1992 (with star Cherry Jones). A writer for Canadian television, McDonald's second play is titled, The Arab's Mouth.
--By David Lefkowitz