164 Pages
English

Eight Men Speak

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This volume comprises a reprinting and gloss of the original text of the 1933 Communist play Eight Men Speak. The play was banned by the Toronto police after its first performance, banned by the Winnipeg police shortly thereafter and subsequently banned by the Canadian Post Office. The play can be considered as one stage–the published text–of a meta-text that culminated in 1934 at Maple Leaf Gardens when the (then illegal) Communist Party of Canada celebrated the release of its leader, Tim Buck, from prison. Eight Men Speak had been written and staged on behalf of the campaign to free Buck by the Canadian Labour Defence League, the public advocacy group of the CPC.

In its theatrical techniques, incorporating avant-garde expressionist staging, mass chant, agitprop and modernist dramaturgy, Eight Men Speak exemplified the vanguardist aesthetics of the Communist left in the years before the Popular Front. It is the first instance of the collective theatrical techniques that would become widespread in subsequent decades and formative in the development of modern Canadian drama. These include a decentred narrative, collaborative authorship and a refusal of dramaturgical linearity in favour of theatricalist demonstration. As such it is one of the most significant Canadian plays of the first half of the century, and, on the evidence of the surviving photograph of the mise-en-scene, one of the earliest examples of modernist staging in Canada.


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Published 30 March 2013
Reads 7
EAN13 9780776620749
Language English

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EIGHT MEN SPEAK A Play by Oscar Ryan et al. EDITED AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ALAN FILEWOD EIGHT MEN SPEAK
Eight Men Speak
Eight Men Speak A Political Play in Six Acts
by oscar ryan e. cecil-smith h. francis mildred goldberg
Edited & with an Introduction by
alan filewod
University of Ottawa Press| Ottawa
© University of Ottawa Press, 2012 The University of Ottawa Press acknowledges with gratitude the support extended to its publishing list by Heritage Canada through the Canada Book Fund, by the Canada Council for the Arts, by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences through the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and by the University of Ottawa. www.press.uottawa.ca
library and archives canada cataloguing in publication
 Eight men speak : a play / by Oscar Ryan … [et al.] ; edited and with an introduction by Alan Filewod.
(Canadian literature collection) Includes bibliographical references. Electronic monograph issued in various formats. Also issued in print format.
isbn978-0-7766-2074-9
 1. Buck, Tim, 1891–1973--Drama. i. Ryan, Oscar, 1904– ii. Filewod, Alan D. (Alan Douglas), 1952– iii Series: Canadian literature collection
ps8535.y36e54 2012 c812’.52 c2012-907613-9
Contents
acknowledgements vii
critical introduction
1.Eight Men Speakin Historical Context ix 2. Authorship: Coalescent Dramaturgy xxiv 3. The Theatrical Modernism of Eight Men Speak xxxii
4.Reception xliii EIGHT MEN SPEAK
foreword 5 act i 9 act ii 19 act iii 27 act iv 35 act v 40 act vi 53 dossier Documents, Reports and Reviews 57
explanatory notes 93
textual notes 103
works cited 107
Acknowledgements
orking on this edition ofEight Men Speakhas been a labour of love for W me, and I hope some of my passion for it has rubbed off on the gradu-ate student assistants who have been invaluable researchers, proof-readers and commentators. I offer thanks and appreciation to Lee Baxter, Robert Dawson and Samantha Dawdy, who helped me immensely with the manuscript, and to Siscoe Boschman for her work digitizing the Toby Gordon Ryan collec-tion at the University of Guelph. In Winnipeg, Melanie Unrau gave generously of her time and effort to dig in the Manitoba Archives. In Toronto, Kailin Wright steadfastly and persistently broke through the defences of the Toronto Police ar-chives to uncover the Police Commission minutes. I also thank Kim Nelson and Vanessa Falsetti for the hours they spent scanning microîlm. This volume would not have happened were it not for Dean Irvine, who invited it as part of the Editing Modernism in Canada project. Thanks to Rose Adams, Ian Angus, Robin Paciîc and Doug Smith, who all took the time to respond to my inquiries. Genevieve Cecil-Smith kindly shared family knowledge of her grandfather. I will always be grateful to the archivists who make this research possible. I owe particular thanks to Patricia Belier at the University of New Brunswick, and to Kathryn Harvey and the staff of the University of Guelph Library and Special Collections. To the archivists of Library and Archives Canada, I offer my respect for their integrity and dignity in the shadow of a government that continued to suppress documents about the censorship ofEight Men Speakfor more than seven decades. I salute the tenacity of the Ofîce of the Information Commissioner of Canada, which brought about the release of the îles that document the banning of the play in 1934. Finally, I dedicate this work to the memory of Toby Gordon Ryan and Oscar Ryan. I îrst learned of the deep history ofEight Men Speakin their living room. In one of those conversations, Toby’s offhand remark thatEight Men Speakwas “a bad play” started me on the road that produced this volume. My response still holds true:Eight Men Speakmay be “a bad play” but it is a brilliant work of theatre.
vii
The sole surviving photograph of the original production ofEight Men Speak. credit: Toby Gordon Ryan Collection, L.W. Conolly Theatre Archives, University of Guelph Library Archival and Special Collections.