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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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Despite Bernard Shaw's defence of Ibsen, and the Norwegian playwright's increasing status as a contemporary classic, Canada's literary establishment preserves the moral attitudes of London a generation earlier. The theatre critic Charles W. Handscomb, in his March 10 Manitoba Free Press column, denounces the first performance of Ibsen's Ghosts in Winnipeg by Alberta Gallatin and her company as "unwholesome, degrading--disgusting." "Ibsen is a genius they tell us. His play is smut--just plain smut. Those of us who were at the Winnipeg Theatre last night were relieved to get out to breathe again the pure, wholesome prairie atmosphere. And this is the play the New York critics wrote of as 'the greatest drama of modern times.' High art they called it. Perhaps it is--perhaps in this wild and woolly west we lack the intelligence to discern high art. To me it is dirt--just dirt…The Ibsen cult may be all right, but in this morally healthy western community we want none of his gruesome dissections."