Academic journal article Theatre Research in Canada

Theatre and Immigration: From the Multiculturalism Act to the Sites of Imagined communities/Theatre et Immigration: De la Loi Sur le Multiculturalisme Jusqu'aux Lieux De L'imaginaire National

Academic journal article Theatre Research in Canada

Theatre and Immigration: From the Multiculturalism Act to the Sites of Imagined communities/Theatre et Immigration: De la Loi Sur le Multiculturalisme Jusqu'aux Lieux De L'imaginaire National

Article excerpt

In English Canada the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act instigated the study of ethnic, multicultural, and intercultural theatre practices. (2) In Quebec the 1977 Bill 101 or The Charter of the French Language, which established the fundamental language rights of the people of Quebec and so presented "the most prominent cite of struggle over Quebecois culture and nationhood," framed similar scholarly and artistic questions (Knowles and Mundel XVI). Today, however, with the growing number of immigrants landing in English Canada and Quebec, urban theatre audiences have become "increasingly diverse" and immigrant artists' performances "no longer need to appeal either to the traditional white middle-class audience of Canada's so-called 'main stages' [...] nor to communities narrowly defined by culture or interest" (XVII). This special issue takes this statement further and focuses on the cultural, personal, and artistic output of immigrant theatre artists who have been working in Canadian theatre for several decades. It argues that representation of an immigrant/immigration on stage constitutes a self-referential move in Canadian theatre. The increased presence of immigrant theatre artists actively contributing to English Canadian and Quebec theatre today invites audiences to rethink such fundamental concepts as nationalism and multiculturalism. Moreover, as this issue demonstrates, immigrant artists' theatrical aesthetics and concerns situate questions of immigration within the wider discourse and practices of theatre as it relates to globalization and mobile identities worldwide. Hence, the articles chosen for this issue aim to measure the artistic output of Canadian immigrant theatre using the theoretical lenses of postcolonial and intercultural performance theories, studies in linguistics and cultural semiotics, psychoanalysis, and cultural geography. They continue the discussion of intercultural theatre practices in Canada and Quebec, initiated by Theatre Research in Canada and Jeu; (3) and reflect the ongoing debates on theatre and immigration in Canada that took place at the 2013 and 2014 annual meetings of Canadian Association for Theatre Research; and as proposed in my own work on theatre and exile (2012).

Terminology wise, this issue moves away from the metaphorical and somewhat poeticized term "exilic artist," someone found in and/or seeking position of existential estrangement or being an outsider, augmented by the social, political, economic, and physical conditions of the flight (Meerzon 4-8). (4) It employs a more pragmatic concept: we use the term "immigrant artist," adapted after the Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) definition of political refugees, skilled workers, investors, entrepreneurs, and self-employed people as immigrants, eligible to seek employment in Canada. Such an "immigrant" must have Canadian or foreign educational credentials, demonstrate a sufficient knowledge of English or French, and have at least one year of continuous full-time paid work experience in one's primary occupation ("Skilled Immigrants"). The term "immigrant theatre artist" refers to a newcomer to Canada who holds a post-secondary diploma in theatre, has work experience in the trade, and aims to earn a living in Canada or Quebec by working in theatre in English and/or in French.

When the Canadian Liberal government revised its immigration policies and made obtaining refugee status more accessible in the mid-1990s, Canada became one of the most desirable countries for migration. This move created what Bricker and Ibbitson call "The Big Shift" (2), the most significant change in Canada's population in the late twentieth century:

   Our population is up 5.9 percent from what it was five years ago
   {roughly 2010}. About a third of this increase is due to natural
   population growth (more people being born than dying). The other
   two-thirds--67 percent, to be precise--is due to immigration {. … 
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.