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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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Herman Voaden

The experimental director and playwright Herman Voaden (1903-1991) and the painter and stage designer Lowrie Warrener (1900-1983) embark June 17 on a two-month cross-Canada train journey from Toronto to dramatize their encounter with Canadian nature and the Northern wilderness. Their expressionist "painter's ballet," Symphony: A Drama of Motion and Light For a New Theatre, completely breaks with the realism prevalent in Canadian theatre and drama of the time. Described by Voaden in 1930 as "a Canadian rhythmic-dance-colour-music-light-pantomime drama without need for dialogue or poetry or libretto," Symphony remains one of the most remarkable Canadian symbolist dramas of the 20th century.

Voaden's manifesto for a distinct "Canadian 'Art of the Theatre'" inspired by Canadian nature and the Group of Seven painters is published as his Introduction to Six Canadian Plays in August of 1930.Lawrence Mason, the Globe's theatre critic, hails the anthology as "epoch-making, a definite point of departure in Canada's artistic history, from which succeeding years may be numbered."

[Herman Voaden's Symphony text link:

http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/Theatre/voaden/symphony.htm

Herman Voaden's Introduction to Six Canadian Plays link:

http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/Theatre/voaden/introductionSixPlays.htm