Ethnic and cultural diversities I: Histories of representation in Canadian theatre

Ethnic and cultural diversities I: Histories of representation in Canadian theatre

In this video, Naila traces the high-stakes reality of storytelling as it relates to history. She argues that what some may take as the norm for theatre in Canada—a group of people performing in front of an audience of silent observers—is actually an inheritance of the settler-invader reality of ‘Canadian’ histories. She reminds us to pay attention, when we go to the theatre, to exactly whose stories are being told and whose stories are being omitted.

Histories of representation of race in Canadian theatre, Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae

Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae

Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Waterloo where she researches gender, critical race, and performance studies. Her scholarship appears in publications including Theatre Research in Canada, Canadian Theatre Review, Canadian Review of American Studies (forthcoming), and Why Theatre Now (forthcoming) edited by Kathleen Gallagher and Barry Freeman. Dr. Keleta-Mae has been awarded a Canada Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC), a Mary McEwan Award for Feminist Scholarship (York University), an Abella Scholarship for Studies in Equity (York University), and a New Scholars Prize (International Federation for Theatre Research). She is also a poet, playwright, and director who has performed in Canada, France, South Africa, and the United States of America. Her art has been published by The Toronto Star, Playwrights Canada Press, and Fernwood Publishing, it has been produced by bcurrent, Black Theatre Workshop, and the University of Waterloo and it has been released as two full-length albums.





  1. Choose a number of what you consider to be ‘canonical’ or central theatrical Canadian works? How many can be classified as settler colonialism type theatre and why? What does this say about the continuing effects of colonialism in Canada?
  2. When comparing the largest theatre companies in Canada, what are their similarities, their differences, their audiences and their works? What is missing?
  3. If we were to imagine another theatre revolution like the ‘Art Theatre Movement, what would it look like? How would it be different from our current theatre?
  4. How can the ‘Art Theatre Movement’ be understood to have influenced expectations of viewers watching ‘indie’ theatre?



Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. University of Minnesota Press.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso, 1991.
Rubin, Don. Canadian Theatre History: Selected Readings. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2004.


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