Vol.16 No. 1-2, 1995, Spring and Fall/ Printemps et Automne



In the late 1960s, theatre in Vancouver, like that in Toronto and other Canadian cities, underwent enormous change. As part of the social, cultural and political upheaval that characterized this era, new theatre companies, later labelled as "alternative," challenged many of the previously-held values and practices of the so-called mainstream. The importance of the alternative theatre movement in the 1970s to the development of a modem Canadian canon has been well-documented. This essay considers the roots of that movement in Vancouver as reflected by the company known simply as "The Gallimaufry."

À la fin des années 60, le théâtre joué à Vancouver, tout comme celui présenté à Toronto ou ailleurs au Canada, a connu une importante période de changements. Portées par la vague des bouleversements socio-culturels et politiques qui a marqué cette époque, les nouvelles compagnies, qui seront plus tard dites "alternatives," se sont donné pour mandat de s'opposer aux valeurs et aux pratiques du théâtre dit traditionnel. L'impact du mouvement du théâtre alternatif sur l'évolution de la dramaturgie canadienne des années 70 a été amplement traité. Cet article s'intéresse aux origines de ce mouvement à Vancouver à travers l'histoire d'une compagnie connue sous le nom de "The Gallimaufry".

So now they have made our English tongue a gallimaufry, or hodgepodge of all other speeches.
Edmund Spenser, The Shepheard's Calendar

By the late 1960s, when what was later called alternative theatre began to blossom in Vancouver, it was not only similar to, but contemporaneous with, the alternative theatre evolving in Toronto and elsewhere in the country. Although Denis Johnston suggests that the first or radical phase of this movement (embodied by Theatre Passe Muraille) tended to present the plays, and copy the performance styles, of the more well-established American alternative theatre (6), the production history of a transitional alternative theatre company in Vancouver seems to suggest a more typical Canadian ambivalence: of the plays presented by the group called The Gallimaufry between 1968 and 1971, only about half were American; the rest, other than two indigenous works, originated largely from the European absurdist canon. As this paper will demonstrate, the company never set out to emulate the American alternative theatre; its intention was to provide theatre that was loosely defined as being "provocative" or "avant-garde." What kindled the greatest interest and controversy in the local theatre community, however, and consequently came to define The Gallimaufry, was its production of plays from the American alternative theatre.

The collective seedbed for alternative theatre in Vancouver were the local universities. In July 1966 Savage God, the company formed under the leadership of Simon Fraser University instructor John Juliani, staged its first experimental productions. Savage God, dominated by the personality of Juliani, espoused radical forms that occasionally blurred the distinctions between art and life-as when Juliani's wedding to Donna Wong was incorporated into a piece called A Celebration, staged at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Page, 46). And in 1967, Michael Bawtree, a Simon Fraser colleague of Juliani, spearheaded a novel experiment in group creation that was to characterize much subsequent theatre activity in Canada. Developed through on-site research and improvisation, The Centralia Incident was based on an actual conflict between a radical union and the American Legion at Centralia, Washington in 1919 (Bawtree, 10).

At the older and more established University of British Columbia, the Department of Theatre, which had been offering undergraduate courses in acting and directing since 1958, created a graduate degree program in 1965 that featured a concentration in play direction. Also formed in that same year was a summer stock company called Stage Campus, operated by the theatre students, that was to be an annual event. Although most of the plays presented in the first two summers were traditional mainstream fare, the final production of Stage Campus '66 was Next Time I'll Sing to You (1963) by British playwright James Saunders. The play, which included brief periods of improvisation as well as some direct audience involvement, was directed by Ken Livingstone (b. 1945)-a transplanted Scot who was one of the first directing candidates in the new MA program in Theatre.

Described by one of his associates as "extremely gentle and cerebral" (Robson), the diminutive, pipe-smoking Livingstone secured, in May 1967, an invitation to stage a play in Vernon and Kelowna for the Okanagan Summer Arts Festival. Already firmly committed to unconventional material, Livingstone formed a company called the New Studio Theatre, consisting mostly of fellow students from UBC with local artist Jack Darcus as designer. The promoters of the festival may have anticipated light summer stock material; what they received, however, was a dark and convoluted political satire by British playwright David Halliwell called Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunuchs (1965). The reception appears to have been mixed at best. One reviewer noted that the local audience appeared mystified by the sophisticated satire, which required the student actors to assume thick Yorkshire accents (Barber, "Little Malcolm .... 11).

In January 1968, with a Seattle bar as a backdrop, Livingstone and Sandra Walton, a former student colleague from UBC who shared Livingstone's passion for avant-garde theatre, formulated a plan for staging contemporary one-act plays as a fringe attraction to the debt-ridden and near-moribund Vancouver Festival (Livingstone, 1991). When launched in 1958, the Vancouver International Festival was intended to rival the renowned Edinburgh Festival as a world-class annual summer celebration of opera, theatre and music. By 1968, however, unable to attract a sufficient audience base, and with organizers lamenting the lack of government support, the Vancouver Festival (the word "International" now removed) had been forced to retrench. No longer a producing body, the Festival now booked available touring attractions for its main venue, the 2800-seat Queen Elizabeth Theatre. In addition to the prestigious Joffrey Ballet, the lineup for 1968 included Cyril Ritchard in Rosalinda (a reworking of Die Fledermaus), a Broadway tryout called And Now Noel Coward and the musical Sweet Charity featuring Chita Rivera.

Livingstone and Walton, along with collaborators Jack Darcus and puppeteer John Rapsey, pooled their resources and in the Spring of 1968 formed a company called (at Livingstone's suggestion) "The Gallimaufry," an archaic word meaning "hodge-podge" or "stew." They arranged to lease the intimate Arts Club Theatre for a season of one-act plays, to run in weekly repertory from July 3 to August 10. To attract the post-performance Festival audience, The Gallimaufry scheduled its productions for midnight with an admission price of $1.25 (in contrast to the major Festival attractions such as Sweet Charity, which charged from $2.50 to $6.50.) 1 Although the ensemble selected by Artistic Director Livingstone was youthful and relatively inexperienced, the talent was nonetheless impressive. Five of the seven members, (Graeme Campbell, Dermot Hennelly, Wayne Robson, Pia Shandel and Janet Wright) became significant personalities in Canada's theatre and film industry.

At midnight on Wednesday July 3, 1968, The Gallimaufry opened its six-week season with Megan Terry's Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place, a piece that originated as an actors' project for New York's Open Theatre. The intense physical nature of the play nearly resulted in an opening-night catastrophe. Moments after the play started, Wayne Robson was knocked unconscious after being thrown down by Graeme Campbell. As Robson later described it:

I landed head first, and I was out cold and bleeding profusely. The show was delayed twenty minutes while they sent me to the hospital. I woke up in the hospital-I had to sign a thing saying they weren't responsible if I died. I came back with a big bandage on my head with the audience all waiting. Halfway through the play it started bleeding again, and there was blood all over my pillow and my shirt and stuff, and people went out thinking, "What an amazing effect-that's great!" The cast all went to their opening-night party and I went back to the hospital with six stitches or something.

On Saturday of that same week, The Gallimaufry produced its second Terry work. Described by its author as a humorous celebration of technique, Comings and Goings was designed as a theatre game in which the entire company participates. A play with only two characters ("He" and "She"), the Gallimaufry production was dominated by a large clock which ticked off the seconds, and a casino wheel containing the names of the cast members (who sat around the periphery of the stage on stools). At intervals of from thirty to ninety seconds, one of the actors spun the wheel; the actor who "won" then jumped into the action, replacing the previous actor, often in mid-sentence. Reviews of the play suggest that the audience, though confused by the frenetic activity on stage, nevertheless responded with alacrity (Barber, "The Festival Spirit .... ").

Of the remaining four productions, two were by well-established absurdist playwrights-Harold Pinter's The Dwarft (1960),and a Samuel Beckett double-bill consisting of Play (1964) and Act Without Words (1958). Leroi Jones (Imamu Amiri Baraka), one of the leaders of the emerging black consciousness movement in the United States, was represented in one production by his award-winning play, Dutchman (1964). To complete The Gallimaufry cycle, Livingstone cobbled together a somewhat disparate set of one-act plays: Edward Albee's The Sandbox (1959) with the premiere of Michael Ondaatje's as yet unpublished dramatic poem, The Man with Seven Toes.

For Livingstone, The Man With Seven Toes was an opportunity to produce an original Canadian work in collaboration with a close friend and former classmate. Ondaatje, aided by a Canada Council grant, travelled to Vancouver from London, Ontario, to assist in the production (Barber, "The Man behind. . . ."). For the relatively unknown Ondaatje, whose only previous publication was The Dainty Monsters (1967), it was an opportunity, as he put it, "to realize certain dramatic possibilities that only emerge in a public performance" (Ondaatje). Two years later Ondaatje's fascination with dramatic narrative resulted in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, a work that not only won the Governor-General's award, but has since received numerous stage adaptations.

Livingstone and his colleagues must have been delighted by the critical reception given their company. Despite some mixed reviews, the press in particular scrutinized The Gallimaufry with the intensity of a child with a new toy. For James Barber of the Province, only around the midnight shows of The Gallimaufry was there any evidence of a "Festival spirit," of people talking excitedly about theatre ("The Festival Spirit. . . ."). For Lloyd Dykk of the Vancouver Sun, The Gallimaufry's overall program provided a forum for the new "revolutionary" and "abstract" theatre that no isolated production could possibly give. "The Gallimaufry," he declared, "must be seen."

A favourable press, a talented young ensemble, the driving energy of Livingstone, even the novelty of offbeat material at an unusual hour-if these factors contributed to The Gallimaufry's initial success, the young company's choice of the Arts Club as its home undoubtedly clinched it. Founded in 1964, the Arts Club not only produced its own shows (a mixture of mostly inoffensive comedies and thrillers), but was also willing to lease its downtown space at rates that even struggling experimental companies could afford. Quartered in an old brick building on Seymour Street that had once served as a revivalist church, the Arts Club bordered both the Yaletown warehouse district and the downtown sex trade. Despite, or perhaps because of, its location, the Arts Club became a favourite gathering place for the city's burgeoning professional elite-the baby boomer population of recent university graduates looking for diversion that was both offbeat and inexpensive (Gwynn). Paintings or photographs by local artists decorated the walls of the spacious yet homey main lounge; music and poetry readings were frequent. During the run of The Gallimaufry, for example, the Club hosted an exhibition of Jack Darcus paintings; while Ondaatje was in town, he read some of his poetry. The top floor of the Arts Club housed the intimate (210 seat) theatre.

According to Darcus, who designed most of the shows, "it [The Gallimaufry] was a very successful experiment that just happened to be in the right place at the right time." Yet with almost no advertising budget and little marketing expertise, The Gallimaufry had to rely on simple but direct methods to attract customers. To entice (and perhaps to bemuse) the largely mainstream Festival audience, Walton later recalled how she and her cohorts, like a band of exotic gypsies, would swoop down to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Theatre to distribute handbills to the exiting crowds (April 1994). Those spectators who were attracted to The Gallimauffy seem to have been young and relatively hip-"coffee-house people" according to longtime UBC theatre instructor Norman Young.2 That they tended to identify with the energy and enthusiasm of the young company seems evident in the following anecdote related by Wayne Robson. The incident occurred during a performance of Comings and Goings:

I remember one night: Pia Shandel and I-the two of us were stoned on grass that night-and we broke up during one of the combinations-totally, totally broke up-and couldn't finish the play. That was the end of the play. And the audience was all laughing, and we were laughing-it was too hard to continue-and so that became the end of the play. And the audience went home happy, and we went home happy. I think in a way that's an indication of who the audience was.

The Gallimaufty's identification with at least some of the trappings of an alternative lifestyle appears to have little ideological base. If Livingstone, for example, was driven by a political agenda, it was not obvious to the others. To Walton, he appeared mildly leftist; to Robson, he seemed a benign conservative. The company members themselves shared various left-wing postures, hardly unexpected among a group of young, impoverished theatre artists. Walton claimed she was politically left because her family was right, "and I would do anything I could to annoy them" (Aug. 1994). Robson felt that politics were incidental: "We were hippies who did theatre-or theatre people who happened to be hippies on the side or something, or felt a kinship with hippiedom."

Because its purpose was to serve as a fringe event to the Vancouver Festival, once the season was complete The Gallimaufry disbanded. During the winter, Livingstone, in consort with other unemployed colleagues, tried to mould together another company:

We tried to do an experimental production of Hamlet that I had all sorts of weird ideas about. We spent a lot of time getting groups of people together and rehearsing and talking-nothing of which actually came to fruition. None of us had any work, but out of it came the energy to do Gallimaufry again (1994).

With the final dissolution of the Vancouver Festival in February of 1969, Livingstone immediately began to prepare an ambitious program of what he termed "avant-garde" theatre for the coming summer. By May, after successfully lobbying Vancouver's business community for start-up funds, Livingstone had selected his company of six actors, a repertory of four productions, a season at the Arts Club from July 8 to August 17, a new admission price of $2.00-and a public appeal for cash donations to ensure the "survival and growth . . . [of] Vancouver's original experimental repertory theatre" (Newsletter).Livingstone and his colleagues emphasized that The Gallimaufry was no longer content to exist as a fringe attraction:

At the present time there is no professional production of avant-garde theatre in Vancouver. The Gallimaufry exists to fill this gap. It comprises a small group of professional actors, directors, designers and writers dedicated to the production of an avant-garde repertory in Vancouver on a regular professional basis ("A Note.on The Gallimaufry").

To further these goals, the company planned to open a permanent coffee house theatre "to produce the Off-Off-Broadway [sic] type of theatre which we feel Vancouver needs" (qtd. in Dafoe, "Repertory Needs Financial Help"). He foresaw a company that not only produced the plays of groups such as New York's Open Theatre, but also duplicated their process by producing original scripts through group creation ("A Note on The Gallimaufry").

In the midst of his preparations for the coming season, Livingstone received an invitation from The University of Western Ontario to direct a July production of The Birthday Party at the Talbot Theatre Centre. For Livingstone, who had already begun rehearsing one of The Gallimaufry productions, it was an offer difficult to refuse: "We were all broke in those days and this was the first time that any one of us had been offered a real job" (Interview, 1994). With his company's infrastructure secure, Livingstone reasoned that he could accept the offer and upon its completion return to Vancouver and The Gallimaufry. In late June Livingstone departed for Ontario, leaving his production of Endgame in the hands of his assistant director, Jana Veverka.

Veverka, another UBC Theatre Department graduate, was also the director of The Gallimaufry's opening production that season, a group of eleven contemporary one-act plays that had first been staged a year earlier at New York's Café au Go Go. The collective title, Collision Course, was symbolic of The Gallimaufry's intention to confront both Vancouver theatregoers and civic authorities with their first exposure to full-frontal stage nudity (Johnson). During the previous year the issue of obscenity in theatre had become hotly debated, both in Vancouver and in the country at large. Less than a week before Collision Course opened, both Vancouver newspapers carried stories on the celebrated court case of Toronto's fledgling Theatre Passe Muraille, in which four men were convicted of presenting an obscene performance of Rochelle Owens's 1965 play, Futz.

By the spring of 1969 the controversy over censorship had become especially intense in Vancouver. Under existing bylaws, the city's chief licensing inspector, Milt Harrell, could arbitrarily cancel or suspend any performance or exhibition which he judged to be immoral or lewd (Hrushowy). Harrell's uncompromising stance had already caused David Gardner, the recently appointed Playhouse artistic director, to withdraw a planned production of Hair. Gardner reportedly said he wouldn't risk the future of the company for thirty seconds of nudity on stage (Johnson).

Harrell's enormous discretionary powers (and his willingness to exercise them) incensed Livingstone and his youthful colleagues. In the spring of 1969, accompanied by his friend John Rapsey, Livingstone had made what he calls an "odyssey" to see the Los Angeles production of Hair, "this great seminal thing for us" (Interview, 1994). Upon his return to Vancouver, Livingstone, determined to produce a play that would not only challenge Harrell's authority but also embarrass the more timid mainstream producers, issued a none-too-subtle call to arms:

The Gallimaufry believes .... that the theatre is a place of confrontation. This confrontation is only real if it is naked. The important thing is that an audience be put in the position of being directly confronted with something naked-A WORD, AN IDEA, or even A BODY ("A Note on The Gallimaufry").

If confrontation was The Gallimaufry's aim, Harrell seemed happy to oblige. When asked by a reporter for his reaction to The Gallimaufry's intention to stage a play with nude actors, Harrell replied, "I intend to go see these people and tell them their theatre will be closed down if they present these plays. And thanks for letting me know about it" (Johnson).

As expected, Harrell was conspicuously present at the opening night of Collision Course. Following the performance, he declared Robert Patrick's Camera Obscura, the shortest of the eleven plays that made up the evening, to be offensive (Barber, "Censor shuts down . . . . "). Although Elizabeth Murphy and Wayne Robson, the actors in this stark futuristic drama of male-female alienation, wore revealing see-through clear plastic robes, they had no physical contact with each other. Harrell, however, was adamant: "He ordered us to clothe ourselves or drop the play," said Robson later (qtd. in Glover). Because defiance of Harrell's edict could result in immediate suspension of the Arts Club license, The Gallimaufry had no choice but to drop the play-at least for the moment.

Not since 1953, when the Vancouver police raided a production of Tobacco Road by Vancouver's Everyman Theatre, had the issue of theatre censorship become so heated.3 Harrell's action met with a mixture of indignation, amusement and ridicule. A lead Province editorial pointed out the absurdity of censoring stage nudity when far more sexually explicit material was available for viewing in movies and magazines ("Do we really need a city censor?"). Despite the media support, The Gallimaufry's battle against civic censorship may have failed were it not for an unlikely ally. Following Gardner's earlier decision to forgo a production of Hair, Vancouver impresario Hugh Pickett negotiated to book a touring production of the musical for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. He was frustrated, however, by Harrell's threat to ban the show because of its brief nude scene-at stake was a non-refundable $35,000 deposit (Wasserman). Perhaps impelled by Harrell's Gallimaufry ruling two days earlier, Pickett sent an open letter to city council on July 10, offering to send Harrell to see a Los Angeles production of Hair at the promoter's expense. The offer was refused; but possibly stirred by the loss of $5,000 in rental fees to the civic-owned theatre, the city council spent the next two sessions in a heated debate over the censorship role of its chief licensing inspector. On July 22, Harrell's power to suspend a license for reasons of morality was officially stripped from him. In the future, obscenity on the Vancouver stage would be governed not by the city licensing department, but by the provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code.

The July 22 decision by council was both important and timely for The Gallimaufry, for on August 3 the company was scheduled to open its production of Michael McClure's The Beard (1965). An imaginary encounter between American pop icons Billy the Kid and Jean Harlow, the play is not only replete with sexually explicit language, but concludes with a scene of simulated cunnilingus. However, with Harrell now muzzled the company was free to exploit the notoriety raised by the Camera Obscura affair. The Beard was held over for an extra week.

Sandwiched between the openings of Collision Course and The Beard were the two other offerings in The Gallimaufry's 1969 season, Beckett's Endgame (1957) and a Sam Shepard double bill: Red Cross (1967) and Icarus's Mother (1965). Along with his Cowboys #2 from Collision Course, these plays introduced Vancouver audiences to the work of Shepard, at the time a relatively obscure (if prolific) playwright who had been associated since 1963 with many Off-Off-Broadway groups, including the Open Theatre.

Upon completion of his contract at The University of Western Ontario, Livingstone, who had maintained regular telephone contact with his Gallimaufry associates, delayed his return to Vancouver in order to visit parents in Montreal. There he convinced Jean-Luc Proulx, the organizer of a Man and His World theatre competition for young Canadian companies (with cash prizes totalling $5,000), to invite The Gallimaufry's production of The Beard for the Festival's final night. At the last moment, however, the trip had to be cancelled because of an ailment suffered by Robson, who was playing Billy the Kid. Although his illness was unrelated, The Gallimaufry issued a tongue-in-cheek announcement that Robson was suffering from a sore throat, an irony that only the reviewer for the Montreal Gazette seemed to appreciate (Robertson).4

By now Livingstone had been absent from Vancouver for two months and had missed the entire Gallimaufry season. Nominally in charge, he later admitted the difficulty of trying to run a company by long distance: "It was kind of a headless ship. I was the captain, and that was all very good when I was there, but then, of course, I pissed off and still expected to run it from afar, which was a little difficult" (Livingstone, 1994). At the end of the summer, Livingstone returned to Vancouver, only to discover that the company he had left was not the same company he returned to:

I got back out there only to discover that my company wasn't really my company any more, and that the plans for the future didn't really include me. And simultaneously with that I got a job offer back at Western [UW0] ... and that was the end of my involvement (Livingstone, 1994).

The decision must have been wrenching both for the company and for Livingstone, not only the founder of The Gallimaufry, but in many ways its heart and soul. Whatever success the company earned over the summer had been based on decisions made initially by Livingstone. As Robson would say later, however, during Livingstone's absence the company had taken on a momentum of its own:

We were on our own roll, and when he came back he wanted to turn the company (as I understand it) into a production company and hire in actors-and we felt that was a betrayal of everything we had worked for.

Livingstone returned to London, Ontario, where he continued to work in theatre for the next ten years. At present he is a member of the theatre faculty of Memorial University in Newfoundland.

In October 1969, The Gallimaufry, now under the leadership of Jace van der Veen, decided to remount its production of The Beard at the Riverqueen, a Davie Street jazz and blues club in Vancouver's West End which was then applying for a liquor license.5 Long suspected by city police of harbouring pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers, The Riverqueen had recently been sponsoring live theatre productions such as Jack Gelber's The Connection (1959). With Wayne Robson and Angela Slater again in the cast, The Beard opened on October 27 for an expected two-week run. On Wednesday November 5, supposedly acting on a complaint from an unidentified citizen, three plainclothes members of the Vancouver City Police morality squad witnessed the performance. The following day, Robson and Slater, along with stage manager Henry Yeagher and the Riverqueen proprietors, Ronnie and Shirley Small, were charged under the Criminal Code with presenting an obscene performance.

The trial itself was not resolved until June of 1971. The prosecution's only witnesses were the police officers who attended the performance. One testified that, in addition to the cunnilingus scene, which was so staged as to make it impossible to know if the actress was wearing a G-string, he heard words such as "fuck," "cock" and "cunt" uttered on the stage. The defense, through a string of expert and character witnesses that included an Anglican archbishop, stressed the absurdity of isolating words and scenes from the context of the play. The judge, however, ruled in favour of the crown. All five defendants were convicted of obscenity and fined a total of $1,250 (Ruebsaat).

Recognizing the case as significant, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association launched an immediate appeal. In January 1972 County Court Judge Graham Ladner dismissed the case against Yeagher because evidence was insufficient to prove he was in charge of the production at the time. Ruling, nonetheless, that the dominant characteristic of the performance was an undue exploitation of sex, Ladner upheld the convictions against the others, although he set aside the fines in favour of suspended sentences ("4 fined. . . ."). The judge's ruling meant that the four remaining defendants would still be saddled with criminal records. Robson and Slater would be barred from working in the United States; because Ronnie Small and Angela Slater were not Canadian citizens, they faced possible deportation (Hay). The defense team pressed forward with another appeal.

On April 12, 1973, three and a half years after the original charges were laid, the BC Court of Appeal unanimously reversed the lower court decisions. Chief Justice Nathan Nemetz ruled that the play should have been tested against the background of contemporary social attitudes: "I would agree that the last scene would offend many people. However, it is not the personal taste of a judge that determines whether a work is obscene or not" (qtd. in Fairly).

Although the result established an important precedent (The Beard was the last Vancouver-area theatre production to be charged with obscenity), the litigation that followed the laying of charges in 1969 drained The Gallimaufry of energy and resources. Combined with the final departure of Livingstone, the company went into decline. New artistic director van der Veen (another product of the UBC theatre department) struggled to maintain The Gallimaufry's self-declared profile as Vancouver's leading experimental rep company, but he lacked Livingstone's talent for organising and fundraising. Nevertheless, the company, now scaled down, continued to perform. In January of 1970, for example, On the Harmfulness of Tobacco (Chekhov) and Krapp's Last Tape (Beckett) were staged before a lunch-hour audience in the ballroom of UBC's Student Union Building (Dafoe, "Gallimaufry's Power").

The tiny Gallerie Allen in Vancouver's trendy Gastown served as a makeshift theatre for The Gallimaufry's final three productions, staged in the summer of 1970. Working with minimal decor and lighting, and with a modicum of company personnel, The Gallimaufry nevertheless produced some of its finest work. Reviewers, particularly the new Sun drama critic, Christopher Dafoe, greeted the first two productions, Tom Eyen's The White Whore and the Bit Player and Robert Pinget's The Old Tune (translated by Beckett) with unreserved admiration. Of The White Whore, Dafoe wrote, "There were moments Thursday night when the air about us tingled. Such moments are rare in the theatre and should be cherished" ("White Whore and Bit Player ). Claiming that The Gallimaufry had produced some of the best theatre of the year in Vancouver, Dafoe concluded his review of The Old Tune with an ironic epitaph: "In two productions this season ... the Gallimaufry people have discovered plays ideally suited to their talents and to their methods of production" ("The Best Theatre this Year").

The third production at the Gallerie Allen was in effect The Gallimaufry's last. Directed by future Tarnalmous co-founder John Gray, The Apprehensile Thumb, by Gallimaufry newcomer Jeremy Newson, was the second original work the company produced. After the production closed in September of 1970, the remaining company members dispersed, although in the summer of 1971 van der Veen invoked the name of Gallimaufry one last time for a production of Scottish playwright Stanley Eveling's Vibrations at the Arts Club Theatre. Independently produced by Clive Bygrave, The Gallimauffy name was appropriated in order to funnel some of the proceeds of the production to The Beard defense fund (Schroeder).

The departure of Livingstone and the litigation resulting from The Beard affair, although undoubtedly stressful, were hardly the only reasons for the dissolution of The Gallimaufry. By 1970, alternative theatre in Canada was entering a new phase, one that Denis Johnston refers to as a period of "cultural nationalism," in which American models were being discarded, and indigenous ones created, "more or less by trial and error" (6). Although the company's 1969 manifesto recognized the importance of group creation, the company lacked both a coherent philosophical base (such as Tamahnous) and the presence of a charismatic leader (such as Savage God's Juliani). It also lacked the money available through government grants that alternative groups after 1970 were able to access through a host of agencies, such as Opportunities for Youth and Local Initiatives Programs. As van der Veen later recalled, the group was shaped and motivated mostly by UBC theatre graduates who were looking for something to do and were comfortable working together.

Indeed, the stream of UBC theatre students who had energized The Gallimaufry continued to fuel the alternative theatre movement. Ken Gass initiated Toronto's Factory Lab in 1970. John Gray, along with Larry Lillo and others, formed the Theatre Workshop, the antecedent to Tamahnous, early in 1971. Unquestionably, the theatre groups that proliferated in Vancouver during the 1970s, whether long-lived, like Tamahnous, or short-lived, like Troupe and Genesis, owed something to The Gallimaufry. Perhaps the company's greatest legacy lay in its successful challenge to laws, both municipal and national, defining obscenity in performance. Its calculated staging of controversial material effectively removed the threat of prosecution from theatre companies operating in the Vancouver area. In addition, The Gallimaufry was not only the first company to introduce the theatre of the new American counterculture to Vancouver audiences, but it did so with style and conviction. Although, as we have seen, only about half of the plays produced by The Gallimaufry were American, it was these plays that defined the group. Unlike Savage God, which was propelled by Juliani's often inflated rhetoric, The Gallimauffy eschewed doctrine. "We just wanted to do theatre," recalled Livingstone later, "and what most turned us on was the contemporary American scene" (1994). Long after its demise, the memory of The Gallimaufry lingered. In 1980, lamenting the dearth of summertime theatre in Vancouver, the Sun's Christopher Dafoe reminisced:

The Gallimaufry-and the name alone was worth the price of admission-was, some of you will recall, an annual feast of unusual theatre staged in various locations around town by actors-many of them students-to while away the long summer nights.
This desire to stage interesting, non-commercial plays may, in fact, explain why Gallimaufry is no longer with us, but while it lasted the Gallimaufry season was one of the highlights of the theatrical year to those deeply interested in the stage ("Sleepy, silly season. . . .").

In many ways the company truly was, as its name suggests, a "hodgepodge"-of plays, of personnel, of ideas-that nevertheless helped determine the course of alternative theatre in Vancouver.


1 From a contemporary Province advertisement.
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2 In a telephone conversation with the author, 26 July 1994.
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3 The resulting publicity and trial caused an international sensation; Erskine Caldwell himself came to Vancouver to testify for the defense.
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4 In his summary of the Festival, Robertson wrote, ". . . the VancouverGallimaufry Theatre had to withdraw its production of The Beard when Billy the Kid developed a sore throat (!)"
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5 For a more detailed look at The Beard obscenity case and its consequences, see Malcolm Page, "Vancouver's The Beard," CTR 13 (Winter 1977): 20-23.
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"4 fined over Beard win sentence appeals." Province [Vancouver] 13 Jan. 1972: 11. Barber, James. "Censor Shuts Down Least-Nude of Plays." Province 9 July 1969: 8.

________. "The Festival Spirit that Deserves Some Nourishing." Province 8 July 1968: 8.

________. "The Man Behind The Man With Seven Toes." Province 9 July 1968: 22.

________. "Little Malcolm Finds More Receptive Ear for His Satire." Province 16 Oct. 1967: 29.

Bawtree, Michael. "Theatre at SFU: The Freedom to Create." The Stage in Canada. Jan. 1968: 10-19.

Dafoe, Christopher. "The Best Theatre this Year." Vancouver Sun 31 July 1970: 24.

________."Gallimaufry's Power." Vancouver Sun 29 Jan 1970: 34.

________."Repertory Needs Financial Help." Vancouver Sun 7 May 1969: 41.

________."Sleepy, Silly Season for Some but Not for All." Vancouver Sun 17 June 1980: 5.

________. "White Whore and Bit Player a Painful but Forceful Play." Vancouver Sun 26 June 1970: 25.

Darcus, Jack. Personal interview. 30 May 1994.

"Do We Really Need a City Censor?" Editorial. Province 14 July 1969: 4.

Dykk, Lloyd. "Gallimaufry Cycle Scores." Vancouver Sun 10 July 1968: 21.

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________. Telephone interview. 21 June, 1994.

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_______. Telephone interview. 24 Aug. 1994.

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