In Canada, adaptation is a national mode of survival, but it is also a way to create radical change. Throughout history, Canadians have been inheritors and adaptors: of political systems, stories, and customs from the old world and the new. More than updating popular narratives, adaptation informs understandings of culture, race, gender, and sexuality, as well as individual experiences. In Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre Kailin Wright investigates adaptations that retell popular stories with a political purpose and examines how they acknowledge diverse realities and transform our past. Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre explores adaptations of Canadian history, Shakespeare, Greek mythologies, and Indigenous history by playwrights who identify as English-Canadian, African-Canadian, French-Canadian, French, Kuna Rappahannock, and Delaware from the Six Nations. Along with new considerations of the activist potential of popular Canadian theatre, this book outlines eight strategies that adaptors employ to challenge conceptions of what it means to be Indigenous, Black, queer, or female. Recent cancellations of theatre productions whose creators borrowed elements from minority cultures demonstrate the need for a distinction between political adaptation and cultural appropriation. Wright builds on Linda Hutcheon's definition of adaptation as repetition with difference and applies identification theory to illustrate how political adaptation at once underlines and undermines its canonical source. An exciting intervention in adaptation studies, Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre unsettles the dynamics of popular and political theatre and rethinks the ways performance can contribute to how one country defines itself.
Kailin Wright is associate professor in the Department of English at St Francis Xavier University.
"One comes away from Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre with a renewed appreciation not just of the politics of adapting cultural texts, but of the plays discussed as truly impressive works of Canadian theatre. In a series of intellectually thorough and ethically careful analyses, Kailin Wright walks her reader through some of the ways that Canada is facing up to its past — and its future." Barry Freeman, University of Toronto Scarborough and author of Staging Strangers: Theatre and Global Ethics