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Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2044-3714
  • E-ISSN: 2044-3722



Founded by Michael Hollingsworth and Deanne Taylor in the late 1970s, VideoCabaret is one of Canada’s most prolific theatre companies and has become known for its unconventional scenography. Hollingsworth later began a one-of-a-kind historical epic – a 21-part play series, which chronicles over 400 years of Canadian history – The History of the Village of the Small Huts. In 1985, Hollingsworth directed the first play of the cycle, New France and almost every year since, a part of the cycle has been produced throughout Toronto at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace, The Theatre Centre, Factory Theatre, Cameron House, a sold out run at Stratford, and recently at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. This article analyses VideoCabaret’s unique scenographic approach and the impact of the scenography on Canada’s historical narrative. The script is created with a unique scenographic design in mind. Costumes become exaggerated portraits of the figure they represent and immediate triggers of recognition. The show takes place in a black-box theatre with oversized, grotesque or two dimensional props. Actors come and go from the lights without being seen to appear or exit, much the same way these figures come and go in Canadian history. Such an approach contrasts the stark black box with the chaotic happenings of the play. By addressing the costumes, props, lighting and set, we can see how the subversive scenographic choices interact with the audiences’ traditional assumptions of what Canadian history is and how it is told. This article will also show how the scenography of VideoCabaret both constructs and challenges the narratives of Canadian history, and by extension, Canadian identity.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Canada; history; Michael Hollingsworth; nation; scenography; subversion
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