July 2 1979


July 2 1979


Other voices, other rooms

John Bentley Mays’s article Taking It on the Road, (June 4) is introduced in the table of contents as dealing with “the first decade of Canadian theatre, a new generation of Canadian playwrights.” This article, ostensibly about Canadian playwrights, is in fact exclusively about a specific clique of young, male, hip Toronto playwrights who deal with two or three specific, hip Toronto theatres. You have chosen very fine playwrights. The problem lies in what and whom you have omitted. It hurts to imagine people assuming that this constitutes the full extent of the new Canadian playwriting. In Vancouver, I see remarkable „ work being done by a score of play* wrights, a half-dozen theatres and the 5 unique New Play Centre. Rural B.C. is becoming a breeding-ground of some extraordinary, often truly radical, professional theatre and that is just what I am aware of out here. Ten or even five years ago, Toronto was the undisputed centre, and perhaps it is still the only Canadian city that some New York producers are aware of, but in many places in Canada, New York recognition is not the only criterion of notable theatre. With all due acknowledgment to the exciting Toronto scene of the early ’70s, those who went before and those who have followed must be included in any accounting of what is going on now.


The workingclass of ’79

Although I found the article The Class of '79 (June 11) most interesting, I was disturbed that Jane O’Hara neglected to mention the graduates of Canada’s community colleges. While university enrolment continues to drop, community colleges find themselves having to fight for larger facilities. Ontario alone will have to turn away more than 15,000 applicants to community colleges this fall. Recently released figures show that upward of 80 per cent of community college graduates are working within their chosen fields of study. Two years ago I dropped out of university to study business administration at an Ontario community college and, although I won’t have a long string of letters following my name upon graduation, I am assured of finding a good job.


As one of the “35 per cent” who has just graduated in a liberal arts program this year and who plans to join that “19.2 per cent” in education in 1980, I fail to see how anyone could accept Jane O’Hara’s generalizations about either

the ’60s or ’70s grads. Since when do the communes and hippie love-ins of the ’60s demonstrate thoughtful or serious attempts to “make a better world?” It seems to me that the ’60s were, in many ways, very inward-looking years for college and university students: self-centred individuals escaping from reality via drugs, free sex and, in certain cases, immature and unnecessary violence. I would argue that the class of ’79 is just as concerned to make the world a better place; it is quieter, more conservative and a bit more mature because times are harder. It cannot afford to be quite so radical when social politics are being cut back and funding for all levels of education is slashed. It was not mere self-interest which motivated the protest against the erosion of the quality of education in Toronto last year.


The vole people

Congratulations to Peter C. Newman on the excellence of his editorial Getting Happy: Is It a Frame of Mind, Habit of Heart or a Gist of the Genes? (May 28). As an undergraduate, some 30 years ago, I was particularly enamored of George Santayana, the philosopher, and delighted to see Newman quote him. Santayana had a peculiarly apt way of expressing himself, often poetically. Psychology students nowadays have never heard of him but more often of some glib illiterate technician whose surmise is more typical of a vole.


An aye for an eye

I feel no sympathy at all for John Spenkelink in A Switch to the Bad Old Days (June 4). Instead of dwelling, as you did, on the grim details of the execution, why don’t you describe the deaths of the victims of these murderers? As a citizen, my sense of justice is offended if murderers are not executed, so long as there is no reasonable doubt of their guilt. If the relatives and friends of murder victims become convinced that the law will not exact a fair retribution for a deliberate taking of an innocent life, they will seek solutions outside the law, and then you will see a “barbaric age.”


A not-so-plain Jane

In Rita Christopher’s Happy Days Are Here Again (May 28) I was amazed to read: “. . . a significant number of re-! spondents volunteered to trade places:

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with Jackie Kennedy or Robert Redford. . .what was more interesting was the number who opted to remain John Doe and Jane Smith.” It is, of course, a pleasure to see my name among these famous people. I have only seen my name in print once before and it was in a dirty joke book.


A tale of two cities

I enjoyed Fred Blazer’s article Montreal Moxie in Tidy, Tepid Toronto (June 18) on Toronto and Montreal nightlife. While there definitely is a vast difference between the two, it is not only attributable to the earlier closing hour in Toronto. Montreal bars are friendly, more natural and much more relaxed. A walk down Crescent Street in Montreal is a genuinely exhilarating experience; the pubs are filled with atmosphere and the people are always anxious to extend a warm welcome. A walk down Toronto’s Yorkville Avenue guarantees a quick exposure to that boring, insecure collection of Toronto’s “beautiful people” who have plenty to wear but nothing to say. A tour of Toronto’s singles’ bars is another frustrating journey into the nothingness made up of posed, starchy people looking for the nearest mirror. Toronto did not earn its position as Canada’s “Big Apple”—it fell upon us because of the tremendous influx of people in the late ’60s and early ’70s. You can build one skyscraper after another, but you cannot change an atmosphere which has existed for 50 years. Toronto needs a whole lot less of what it does have and more of what it doesn’t.