The Professionalization of a Stage Naturalist, the Making of a Mythmaker: The Theatre Criticism of Urjo Kareda at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Newspaper

Robin C. Whittaker

Abstract


The theatre criticism of Urjo Kareda in the Toronto Star offers favoured primary source material for theatre historians evaluating the so-called “alternative theatre” movement in Toronto in the early 1970s. Indeed, it has been argued that theatre activity during these years constitutes a “movement” largely because of Kareda’s engaging writing at the time, which popularly labeled it as “movement” even as it emerged. However, Kareda’s equally engaging writing in the campus weekly newspaper the Varsity in the mid-1960s, while he was a student at the University of Toronto, has been left unexplored. This essay argues that Kareda’s themes, styles, and opinions in that student publication reveal much about the development of his early views on theatre practices and aesthetics in the years prior to the emergence of the alternative theatres, most notably his unwavering preference for neo-Aristotelian stage naturalism and psychological realism, and a dynamic emphasis on Toronto’s theatre ecology. In doing so, it offers connections between undergraduate cultural production and career-minded journalistic theatre writing. And it challenges scholars to rethink the professional researcher’s undervaluation of extra-professional theatre criticism.

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