Reprinted from yesterday's late edition.
Anomalies ricocheted Monday in the panelled central hall of the Phillips Collection, where five figures of Canadian theater attempted to define "Canadian Drama in 1977 and Future Trends." The event was part of "20th Century Canadian Culture: A Symposium," continuing at the Hirshhorn Museum through April 7.
Jean-Claude Germain of Montreal's Le Theatred'Aujourd'hui and Jean Louis Roux of the city's Le Theatre du Nouveau Monde represented the French aspect. John Hirsch, head of English TV drama for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and Tom Hendry of the Toronto Free Theater were assigned the English-speaking sector.
Nor was the careful balance upset by the moderator, John Fraser, drama critic of The Toronto Globe and Mail and soon to become his paper's correspondent in China.
The anomalies did not spring from any tensions of nationalism, but could be summed up in one of the questions from the audience:
"What is a Canadian?"
All agreed when Hirsch and Germain spoke together: "There are 22 million definitions." Commenting further on his country's population, Germain added: "It is a country looking for a culture which it didn't know it already had."
Having left theater direction in Canada and the United States in favor of producing drama in English for television, Hirsch pointed to the lingering, dominant influence of pre-World War II English culture and 65 per cent of televiewers who watch U.S. TV. "More confusion come out," he said, "through the changing political framework."
Another anomoly is the strong government subsidy for the arts, recognizing that theater is important to any civilized country. At the same time, the lack of any commercial theater other than touring American or British companies, means "the loss of a necessary spirit of competition."
Besides the gulf between the French and English cultures, Germain also pointed to the rural-urban cultural divide. Hendry summed up: "We are now in a structural waiting room. The next few years will tell what is to follow."