Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Summer 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:3 (Summer 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


Collecting essays from a 2007 national conference hosted by the University of Saskatchewan Drama Department and the Canadian Association of Theatre Research, West-words purports to be "the first comprehensive study of contemporary theatre across the [Canadian] prairies" since 1977. It is certainly wideranging, in terms of style, subject matter, and theme; "comprehensive," however, is beyond the reach of this scattershot anthology.

Editor Moira J. Day divides the entries according to provincial content, moving east to west like the colonists' path across the three prairie provinces. A fourth heading, "Crossing Regional Borders," seems to undermine the tidy geographical categorization of Manitoban, Saskatchewan, and Albertan artists; this subversion is evident in "Confidently Canadian: Questioning Canadian Regionalism," wherein Martin Psenicka argues that "the concept of region as an entity . . . has been rendered obsolete by globalization and the electronic age." One might welcome more such inquiries into the methodology or value of examining "Canadian Prairie playwriting" as distinct from either Canadian or Great Plains playwriting-but more such postmodernist approaches would distract from the alleged focus of the book, playwriting itself.