#CdnCult Volume 7, Edition 7: ART & POLITICS

#CdnCult Volume 7, Edition 7: ART & POLITICS


It’s baffling how American partisanship has brought us to a place where a man who’s famous for being on TV could possibly be in charge of the country that is largely responsible for leading the growth of global industrialism, capitalism and militarism.

Does the political rise of Donald Trump accurately reflect the core thoughts and values of a majority of American citizens, or the whacked-out ramblings of a vocal but statistically irrelevant margin? Will American voters be able to separate Trump’s fame and “brand value” from the actual skills and qualities needed to lead a nation? Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish style from substance.

This week, CBC News obtained a copy of a Master thesis by Dimitry Soudas, former communications director to Stephen Harper. Journalist Elizabeth Thompson relates Soudas’ observation that television undermines political dialogue by simplifying complex topics and issues into sound bytes. “Style has come to trump substance,” Soudas writes. Hah.

This edition of #CdnCult focuses on the relationship between theatre and politics. What do artists need to survive for when practice and politics are deeply intertwined? Toronto writer and director Susanna Fournier grapples with the challenges of having collaborators interested in her passion, not her politics, and not seeing the link between the two. Playwright and director Arthur Milner observes how deeply political Canadian theatre was and no longer is. And newly-minted MT Space AD Pam Patel explores how even well-meaning artists can become complicit in gentrification. 

Can artists compartmentalize their complex selves and still authentically create and flourish? Will voters overcome their innate sexism and vote Clinton? Or will Clinton cost Jill Stein the election sixteen years after Al Gore cost Ralph Nader the Presidency? All of this is hard.

Adrienne Wong and Michael Wheeler
Co-Editors: #CdnCult



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About the Authors

Michael is Artistic Director of SpiderWebShow, which he co-created with Creative Catalyst Sarah Garton Stanley. He was previously Executive Director and Transformation Designer of Generator, where he led the transition from a fee-for-service model named STAF, to the current capacity-building model it operates on. Since 2003, he has run Toronto-based Praxis Theatre, with which he has directed 14 plays and curated several festivals while writing for and running performance-based websites. He teaches regularly at The National Theatre School and Queen's University, where SpiderWebShow is currently in residence.
With firm footing in performing arts practice and community building, I'm curious and passionate about change, systems, and participation. I'm a producer and an artist. I value collaboration, efficiency, and resourcefulness. Currently Artistic Director of Kingston-based SpiderWebShow Performance, which includes co-curating and producing the Festival of Live Digital Art (FOLDA). During eight years as Artistic Producer of Neworld Theatre, I collaborated with colleagues to found PL 1422, a shared rehearsal and administration hub in East Vancouver, as well as shepherding the creation and production of over 80 live events – including a series of 11 "podplays" audio plays before podplays were cool. In 2015, I was the inaugural artist in residence on CBC Radio’s q based on my digital project The Apology Generator. My formal training is in arts creation and producing, and I have practical experience managing production projects, festivals, and special events. I'm functionally bilingual in English and French. I'm a parent, a gardener, a cook and have recently started running.