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The Plays of CODCO

Edited by Helen Peters


Edited By Helen Peters

This book presents the texts of five plays, collectively written and performed during the years 1973 to 1976 by the Newfoundland theatre troupe CODCO. CODCO's satiric plays expose universal perversity, ignorance, prejudice and abuse with the ironic wit of the people of Newfoundland. The plays are distinguished by their graveyard or gallows humour. CODCO played an important role in the evolution of Canadian theatre and is an early signifier of Canada's attainment of cultural maturity. CODCO's current weekly television series commenced broadcasting in 1988.


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Note on the Text xxxiii


NOTE ON THE TEXT My interest in editing CODCO's plays was triggered in 1987 by reading Thomas Clayton's article on editorial problems in published editions of Peter Nichols's Passion Play. 1 After considering the manner in which contemporary playscripts are generally published, Clayton argues that, "we are uniquely placed to record precisely those details of performance and publication of contemporary plays that students of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama have spent ... their whole lives trying to retrieve or, as often, speculatively reconstruct." (p. 374). While Clayton was interested in a single-authored play which was published in a number of editions, I was interested in a group of five collectively-written, unpublished plays which CODCO wrote, acted, directed, produced, rehearsed, performed, revised, toured, and later revived. My interest lay in addressing the question- was it possible to use principles of textual criticism in order to produce an edition of plays which were created through various processes of collective improvisation and which are preserved in a transcript of a single performance and audio and video tapes of rehearsals and performances? CODCO's plays, coming from Canadian collective theatre, derive from avant garde experimental theatre of the 1960s and 70s, which abandoned the use of conventional playwrights and began to create drama through improvisation. The occurrence of such drama was widespread as collaboration between the writing and acting of plays emerged throughout Europe and North Am.erica.2 Andy Jones, who joined CODCO in 1974, saw the original Canadian collective play, Theatre Passe Muraille's 1972 documentary drama, The...

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