Skip to main contentSkip Navigation or Skip to Content
Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

ENGL 4341: Modern Canadian Theatre

This is a survey course in Canadian drama from 1967 to 1992, a very rich twenty-five-year period that saw Canadian playwriting, performance, and production grow from obscurity to a lively, thriving component of Canadian literature and culture, as well as an international export. This course is designed to introduce students to contemporary drama and theatre in Canada through the study of twelve plays.

Learning outcomes

  • Analyze the experience of characters in some representative Canadian plays dating from 1967 to the 1990s.
  • Describe the nature, range, and variety of the social and political criticism inherent in Canadian drama from the 1960s to the 1990s.
  • Describe the stylistic strategies utilized by modern Canadian dramatists, particularly the variations and combinations of realist, expressionist, and other theatrical techniques.
  • Analyze some of the central thematic concerns of these plays, including those that appear in some way to be distinctively Canadian (e.g., the role of Native people in Canadian history and the theatrical imagination).
  • Identify the styles and themes unique to individual playwrights, and compare and contrast them with those of others.
  • Describe the multiplicity of perspectives, including feminist, Native, and Quebecois that are operative in the modern Canadian theatre.
  • Utilize (although not necessarily agree with) published reviews and other literary and dramatic criticism in arriving at your own assessment of the preceding issues.
  • Demonstrate your familiarity with particular modern Canadian plays and your ability to read dramatic texts with critical intelligence by identifying (in the exam) selected excerpts from the plays, and commenting on their significance.

Course topics

  • Unit 1: Background to Modern Canadian Theatre and The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga
  • Unit 2: Les Belles-Soeurs by Michel Tremblay
  • Unit 3: Walsh by Sharon Pollock
  • Unit 4: Jacob's Wake by Michael Cook
  • Unit 5: Zastrozzi: The Master of Discipline by George F. Walker
  • Unit 6: Billy Bishop Goes to War by John Gray with Eric Peterson
  • Unit 7: Toronto, Mississippi by Joan MacLeod
  • Unit 8: Polygraph by Robert Lepage and Marie Brassard
  • Unit 9: Moo by Sally Clark
  • Unit 10: Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann-Marie MacDonald
  • Unit 11: Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing by Tomson Highway
  • Unit 12: Lion in the Streets by Judith Thompson

Required text and materials

The following materials are required for this course:

  1. Wasserman, Jerry, ed. (2012). Modern Canadian Plays, Volume I. (5th ed.). Vancouver: Talonbooks.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-0-88922-678-4
  1. Wasserman, Jerry, ed. (2013). Modern Canadian Plays, Volume II. (5th ed.). Vancouver: Talonbooks.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-0-88922-679-1
  1. Conolly, L. W., ed. (1995). Canadian Drama and the Critics. (Revised edition). Vancouver: Talonbooks.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-0-88922-359-2


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final mandatory examination and 50% overall. It is strongly recommended that students complete all assignments in order to achieve the learning objectives of the course. The total mark will be determined on the following basis:

Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 10%
Assignment 3 10%
Assignment 4 10%
Assignment 5-Term Paper 20%
Final Exam (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

Search To Top