Herman Arthur Voaden

Herman Arthur Voaden, playwright, director, educator, editor (b at London, Ont 19 Jan 1903; d in Toronto 27 June 1991).

Voaden, Herman Arthur

Herman Arthur Voaden, playwright, director, educator, editor (b at London, Ont 19 Jan 1903; d in Toronto 27 June 1991). English Canada's most significant pre-WWII playwright following the departure of Merrill DENISON to the US in 1931, Voaden developed a unique nonrealist, multimedia playwriting and production style which he termed "symphonic expressionism," 1932-43. Influenced by the paintings and cultural nationalism of the GROUP OF SEVEN, his "symphonic theatre," a fusion of realistic and poetic choral speech, music, dance and nonrealistic lighting and setting was the primary stylistic alternative to the prevailing realism in Canadian theatre production.

His most important dramatic works include Rocks and Earth Song (1932), Hill-land (1934), Murder Pattern (1936), Ascend As the Sun (1942) and the realistic Emily Carr (1960). Following the suspension of regular theatre production because of WWII, Voaden began a second career as a national arts lobbyist. As first president of the Canadian Arts Council (1945-48), then national director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (1966-68) and president of the Canadian Guild of Crafts (1968-70), he helped to secure government support for the arts in Canada. In 1987 he attended a performance of a revival of Murder Pattern in Toronto. His anthology, A Vision of Canada: Herman Voaden's Dramatic Works 1928-1945, was published in 1993. Voaden's extensive private papers are housed at the York University Archives.