George F. Walker

  George F. Walker, playwright (b Toronto, 23 Aug 1947). One of Canada's most prolific and popular playwrights and television writers, George F. Walker is best known for his fast-paced black comedies, filled with corrosive satire of the selfishness, greed and aggression characteristic of contemporary urban culture under the pressure of capitalism.

Walker's career began in the early 1970s when, while driving a taxi in Toronto, he noticed a poster soliciting original scripts for the newly founded FACTORY THEATRE. In 1972 the company performed his first play, The Prince of Naples, inaugurating a long, productive and mutually beneficial partnership.

His first plays showed the influence of European playwrights Eugene Ionesco and Samuel Beckett, but he soon developed his own distinct style, which drew on such popular culture sources as B-movies (Beyond Mozambique, Science and Madness), comic books (Sacktown Rag, Bagdad Saloon), melodrama (Zastrozzi) and film noir (Ramona and the White Slaves, Theatre of the Film Noir, The Power Plays). Beneath the deceptively playful and ironic surface of these plays, Walker was often grappling with some of the central moral dilemmas of the modern age.

In 1984 Walker's style shifted with Criminals in Love, the first of his East End Plays, which are set in the east-end, working-class neighbourhood of Toronto where he grew up, and include Better Living, Beautiful City, Escape from Happiness, Love and Anger and Tough! Here, the exaggerated caricatures that peopled his earlier work were replaced by more recognizable (if highly eccentric) figures from everyday life. This vein of work continued with Suburban Motel, a six-play cycle produced by FACTORY THEATRE in 1997-98, and Heaven, a play commissioned by the CANADIAN STAGE COMPANY for their 1999-2000 main-stage season but moved, for fear of controversy, to their smaller second stage. After a 10-year absence, in which he mainly wrote for television, Walker returned to the stage in 2010 with And So It Goes, where a middle-aged couple find their lives unraveling as they face financial ruin. The ghost of the late American writer Kurt Vonnegut is a central character in the play.

George F. Walker's work has been performed all over the world and honoured with many awards, including two GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARDS for Drama, for Criminals in Love and for Nothing Sacred, his adaptation of Turgenev's Fathers and Sons. Since the early 1980s, he has directed most of the premieres of his own plays. His work for television includes co-writing the series This is Wonderland, The Line, and Living in Your Car.

In 2006, he was named a member of the ORDER OF CANADA.