A Man of Letters

Edited by Jessica Riley

A Man of Letters
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The late Urjo Kareda was renowned for his commitment to respond personally to the hundreds of mostly unsolicited scripts received by Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, where he served as artistic director for almost two decades, from 1982 to 2001. His letters—the bulk of which ... Read more


Overview

The late Urjo Kareda was renowned for his commitment to respond personally to the hundreds of mostly unsolicited scripts received by Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, where he served as artistic director for almost two decades, from 1982 to 2001. His letters—the bulk of which were, by necessity, rejections—became infamous for their detailed dramaturgical content and characteristic critical candour; they became the stuff of legend among Canadian theatre practitioners and scholars. Comprised of a carefully selected range of Kareda’s dramaturgical correspondence, A Man of Letters makes public for the first time over three hundred responses, including rejection letters and ongoing communication with playwrights whose work Kareda developed for production at Tarragon. Recipients range from unknown playwrights to many of Canada’s most celebrated theatre artists.

A Man of Letters offers an unprecedented record of Kareda’s dramaturgical practice, including the values, preoccupations, and preferences that shaped his responses to new work—responses that, in turn, exerted considerable shaping influence on English-language Canadian theatre in the last decades of the twentieth century.

Jessica Riley

Dr. Jessica Riley is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg. Her research and teaching focus on theatre history and historiography, dramaturgy, and Canadian drama and theatre. Jessica's work has been published in the Cambridge Companion to Canadian Literature, Canadian Performance Histories and Historiographies, Latina/o Canadian Theatre and Performance, and elsewhere. Jessica is currently at work on a manuscript that uses archival research to analyze the legacies of new play dramaturgy as practised among English Canadian "alternate" theatre companies in the late 1960s and 1970s. 

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