Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Imperialist Calls.

What did playwright JB Priestley think of Canada when he visited it in the mid-1950s? "My publishers persuaded me one year to do a tour of the country to stimulate book sales, but it was a depressing experience," he said later. "I got the impression that Canadians didn't read too many books."

Still, he wrote a play called The Glass Cage set in Toronto for that city's Crest Theatre. The play then transfered intact to London in 1957 - the first all-Canadian production to play there - where it received a mixed reception (translation: it bombed). Charmingly, Priestley blamed expat Canucks.

"We had hoped all the Canadians in London would support it - what a hope. And here's the difference between Canadians and Australians: About the same time, there was an Australian play put on, [Ray Lawlor's] The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, quite a good play, but not as good as mine. But all the Australians in London turned out and gave it a good reception. And it ran for months."

The Glass Cage did not. It closed and no one put it on professionally again - in Canada or in the UK.

Until this autumn, that is, when the Royal and Derngate theatre in Northampton (one hour out of London) saved it from obscurity and resurrected it. I went to see it last weekend, which you can read all about in today's Globe and Mail. If you live in Canada, that is - cuz it's not on the 'net.

In short: I think it should be remounted in Canada. Shaw Festival, I'm looking at you, but I think it could really be up Soulpepper's alley, too.

2 comments:

christopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
christopher said...

Very interesting. I just read Paul Illidge's Glass Cage, a good commentary. Out of curiosity, have you heard of The Glass Cage by Colin Wilson. A sci-fi type of thing. But I think that's unrelated.

You're right about this play. I've read a little Priestley, and The Glass Cage is arguably superior to plays like Three Men in New Suits, or even The Linden Tree.