By Alan Filewood
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Additional resources for Collective Encounters: Documentary Theatre in English Canada
That populism is perhaps the most important reason for the Canadian documentary's affinity with collective creation. In order to make that connection, however, it is necessary to examine the problem of regionalism a little more closely. All of the plays discussed in this book can be defined as localist, but not all are explicitly regional, in the sense that not all are 'about' the particular features cultural, social, or geographic - of a particular region. As used by Frye and Bessai, localism has a geographic value: localist documentaries like The Farm Show explore the dimensions of a culture as defined in the terms of a specific community.
Localism, it appears, is an integral part of documentary theatre. In Canada it 22 Collective Encounters has also been a cultural strategy which has tried to define the processes by which community experience may be translated into art. It is when localism is placed in a political context that regionalism emerges as a major consideration. In Canada, the uneven historical development of the several regions has engendered an idea of separate regional cultures distinguished by geography, history, demography, and language.
3 It is from this that his interest in what he has called 'extended language' derives. In the early days at Passe Muraille, Thompson led his actors into the exploration of a specific event or community. In his later work he became increasingly interested in working with writers. Although he had introduced a playwright to the creative collective as early as 1973, when Rick Salutin helped create 1837: The Farmers' Revolt, Thompson grew more interested in collaborating with novelists. This interest coincided with a growing fascination with the culture of western Canada.