Chronicling a Love Affair with Canadian Theatre

globe and mail

Twenty years ago, in the brilliant Canadian television series Slings and Arrows, the fictional advertising agency Froghammer created an ad campaign for the equally fictitious New Burbage Festival featuring a billboard headlined “OUR SUBSCRIBERS” that showed an elderly white woman on her deathbed, her husband grieving by her side.

I was reminded of this when I read the latest “theatre is in crisis” article in the Globe and Mail. No need to go into the specifics of the article, which you probably won’t be able to read anyway because it is snug behind the Globe and Mail’s paywall, because we’ve read it all before.

Yeah, audience numbers and contributions are down and it sucks.

But my attention was drawn to a comment by reader Louisburger, who said . . .

Every time I go to the theatre all I see in the audience are old
white people. The stage may be full of young, racialized performers
but there are none in the seats. They spend their money on
basketball games and Drake concerts. It is sad, but theatre
is dying because its audience is dying.

As one of those old white people cluttering up all those theatre seats, I couldn’t help but chuckle, because I know something Louisburger has apparently not realized.

When the old white people that so distress Louisburger have all been gathered to their fathers, the theatre will not die.

Instead, that cadre of deceased white folks will be replaced by another bunch of old white folks.

When that happens another, younger Louisburger will be saying “Every time I go the the theatre all I see are old white people.” Perhaps today’s Louisburger will be one of them.

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