Q2Q: Queer Canadian Performance Texts
Dickinson, Gatchalian, Oliver & Singh, eds., 312 pgs, Playwrights Canada Press, playwrightscanada.com, $29.95
Anthologizing seven contemporary Canadian performance pieces, Q2Q investigates “what makes queer performance queer.” The editors strive to reflect diversity in “gender, geographical, and racial representation” in their selections, though they note that a single volume must necessarily leave many gaps. Nevertheless, Q2Q serves as an engaging snapshot of contemporary Canadian queer theatre.
The pieces in Q2Q are not very diverse, though, in terms of content: each explores a particular facet of queer identity through work focused on personal histories. On the more traditional end of the spectrum is Shawn Wright’s Ghost Light, an involving solo show about a gay man and his memories of his glamorous but aging Catholic Acadian mother Regina. Meanwhile work like d’bi.young anitafrika’s androgyne, set alternately in Jamaica and Toronto, seems less traditional, deploying poetry, dance, movement, and other media, but at its heart this, too, is about the daily travails of queer folks as we feel our way through a hetero-patriarchal world.
The work is all solid, all worth reading, staging, or seeing. At the same time, Q2Q doesn’t include any one piece that really stands out — nothing that seems essential, unmissable, or likely to enter the capital-R Repertoire. Books like this are still important: they record and disseminate ideas that might otherwise not be preserved. Rather than for the casual reader, Q2Q will be most appreciated by scholars, critics, or others with a deep, pre-existing investment in this material.