When I was an undergraduate journalism student in the late 90s my Dad suggested, several times, that I write profiles of politicians. I scoffed. Electoral politics were incapable of positively impacting the things I cared about––justice, art, summer jobs, dating, and red wine. I politely suggested he write the profiles if it was such a good idea. For the past five or so years I’ve paid closer attention to Canadian politics because I see how elected officials profoundly impact things I care about like: justice, culture, education, employment, communities, access to quality food and white wine.
And here we are, one week into the 42nd general election that will determine the Members of Parliament who will govern activities that concern this mass of land that most now call Canada. Since the election started last Sunday politicians, journalists, and pundits have talked about the ‘middle-class’, the ‘terrorists’, the ‘rich’ and the ‘average person.’ They’ve talked about the recession, the polls, the strategies, and last Thursday’s debate––and inevitably someone asks ‘Who delivered the knock out punch?’ Politics are discussed like it’s a sport but politics remind me much more of theatre––and I’m most interested in what kind of audience we’ll be for the remaining 69 days of the campaign. Will we: sit in the dark, applaud when expected to, refuse to go in, give a standing ovation, laugh at well-placed lines, or bum-rush the stage demanding a new script?
In her book Theatre Audiences, Susan Bennett argues that “performances rewrite cultural assumptions” (2). Well, performances are about audiences too so this audience member is going to do some re-writing of her own. Now I won’t be doing those profiles that my Dad wisely suggested I do many years ago. But, I did receive a grant from the University of Waterloo to research this general election so, I’ll be writing weekly posts like this one until voting day on Oct. 19. That is of course if I don’t leave at intermission and refuse to go back in.