Creative Theatre (1929), by director, theorist, and occultist Roy Matthews Mitchell (1884–1944), is an important document in Canadian theatre history, as well as a significant artefact of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Canadian cultural history.
First published in 1929 by the John Day Company (1926–74) and privately republished by the Kindle Press in 1969, Creative Theatre not only stands as a comprehensive account of Mitchell’s ideas concerning what he calls the “central fact” of theatre; it is also a scathing, yet playful critical analysis of the commercial, commodity-driven theatre trade of the time, a refutation of what he regarded as the destructive effects of the modern age, and a passionate defense of Theosophy and its practice in the art world. It is this last element of Mitchell’s, which, synthesized with the theory and practice of European modernist theatre, clearly sets his vision apart from the manifestos of his artistic contemporaries.
With the publication of this critical edition, contemporary and hopefully future theatre artists will have the opportunity to mine Creative Theatre once more for nourishment. Theatre in Canada and elsewhere is given new issue and our understanding of its history would remain insufficient without it.