follow this link to see all annotated press clippings: Press clippings 1990 – 1999 Annotated 1 (a new window will open in browser)
In the pre-internet age, press, tv and radio coverage were the only games in town.
For theatre and arts, it’s as if there were only four or five ‘influencers’ in Toronto (the critics for the top daily and weekly papers). The entire city could only read those four or five papers for information on what was happening in the city. Getting your show into the paper, was huge.
Those four or five critics had all of the power. The only other hope was word of mouth – and that was literally someone had to tell you either face to face, or pick up the phone and call you to let you know about the show. We also had posters and flyers. There was no such thing as posting your opinion or commented on someone’s review. You could write a letter to the editor, but it most likely would never be published.
Over the nineties, coverage for the arts began to diminish rapidly. A journalist I knew who wrote for a ‘Big Daily’ paper covering the arts said to me: “the public buyer is more interested in what shoes Britney Spear’s is wearing then they are in the arts, so that’s why we don’t cover them that much anymore, the public isn’t interested”.
The shoes of a faraway pop star were more important to people then plays or dance or art exhibits happening in their own neighborhoods.
These press clippings are an example of what kind of coverage a small independent company might get in Toronto in the pre-internet age. .
This project also shows the story of one woman’s quest to destroy the canon and rip open the patriarchy, some of the challenges she faced and some of the supporter she had.
I can’t stress to you enough how different a world it was, when these reviews start, in 1990. Almost everyone with any power is male. There are some exceptions, but not many. But then there is the Queer world that was challenging things. And challenging through art was a big part of what Queer was all about.
It felt like I was part of a group of artists that, up until the turn of the century, were challenging the status quo through art. We did this until the status quo shut us down. We had been devastated from the inside with the loss of so many to AIDS, we’d lost our best warriors. Everything had changed. We were going to have to find a new way forward.
And it’s at that point that this first section of annotated press clippings end, as well as this being end of Act 1.
Please note that my annotations are in red and I have not annotated every page. It’s also in progress – more to come.