Saturday, August 24, 2013

Theatre For Thought, August 24, 2013

joel fishbane

About two and a half years ago – February, 2011 to be precise – the good people at New South Books released a bowdlerized edition of Huckleberry Finn. I was proud of them – not for censoring the work but for having the common decency to let the world know they were doing it. I promptly wrote an article on the subject and the folks at The Charlebois Post printed it. Then, for reasons unbeknownst to man, CharPo offered me the chance to shoot my mouth off once a week about the arts. 

Well it’s been about 160 weeks now, give or take, and I regret to announce that I’m hanging up my mouth, at least in a weekly capacity. While I will continue to file reports and theatre reviews from time to time, this will be my last Theatre for Thought column.

You can’t celebrate Shakespeare with one hand and then punch him in the Folio with the other; it’s just rude.

I find it suiting that my first article ever was about honesty when it comes to adaptation; for two and a half year this has been my own little war with the theatres of the world and while I know that I’m losing, I’ll continue to fight the good fight. The Stratford Festival, being the country’s flagship theatre, needs to take the lead in this. Next year they’ll be producing King Lear, King John and Antony and Cleopatra. Like New South Books,  the artists at Stratford must begin letting audiences know when the text has been changed – and who did the changing. You can’t celebrate Shakespeare with one hand and then punch him in the Folio with the other; it’s just rude.

So why is this my last column? The answer is twofold. As many of you know, I’m also a writer of fiction and theatre and I’m happy to say that I’ve become fairly busy, making it impossible for me to commit to a weekly deadline. But more importantly, after 160 weeks (give or take!) I think it might be time for someone else to step forward and let their opinions on Canadian theatre be known. Whoever you are, I encourage you to apply for the job – you can even use the Theatre for Thought title if you like.

I’ve considered it both an honor and a privilege to have a forum in which I could promote my own artistic views and celebrate artists and projects I thought were worthy of attention. I was flattered when Gaëtan Charlebois told me that I have a “loyal following” – some motley group of misfits, no doubt – and have appreciated all of you who have ever approached me on the street to tell me that you read me every week.

Early on I made it a policy not to get involved in the responses to my columns (except in the cases where a correction or clarification is made). Rest assured that I read each and every one of your responses. The goal of Theatre for Thought was always to provoke discussion – and I was always glad when I did. 

A great thanks goes to Gaëtan and Estelle, my stalwart editors, who allowed me free reign to write about whatever I liked – and for sticking up for me whenever I pushed the wrong button or drew a little blood. They’ve been great supporters over these 160 weeks (give or take) and I am grateful for the opportunity they gave me to think about this theatrical world in which I live.

I’ve always hated curtain calls. As an actor, I always wanted to avoid them. As a writer, thank God, I have the luxury to simply slip back into my typewriter. Which is more or less where you’ll find me, if you ever care to look.

1 comment:

  1. Great job, Joel. Thanks for all the insights!
    Break-a-heart with your other endeavors!


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