Villains, Victims & Vixens: Camp and Late 20th Century Canadian Queer Drama

Date of Award


Publication Type



Gay playwright, Gay plays, Post-AIDS, Sontag, Susan, AIDS crisis


N. Markotic


L. Walsh



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Queer Canadian drama did not appear upon the stage in any significant way prior to the late 1960s, and even then with only tentative forays into the taboo topic of homosexuality. When gay playwrights began to write openly about gay characters and experiences, they often relied on the use of “Deliberate Camp.” By examining Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on Camp,” and applying her ideas, and the ideas of her critics, to the emergence of queer Canadian drama, this thesis will argue that this form of queer humour and queer coding was essential to the development and flourishing of Canadian Gay Plays during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, discussing both Deliberate and “Naïve Camp.” The plays I explore are John Herbert’s Fortune and Men’s Eyes, Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna, and Sky Gilbert’s and Kent Staines’s Drag Queens trilogy. The former two plays feature examples of Deliberate Camp characters, but, as often occurs with the passage of time, the plays themselves have begun to be seen as Naïve Camp. The latter plays use Deliberate Camp freely to satirize and criticize the various responses to Gay Liberation and the AIDS crisis. Camp, a very successful form of queer expression in the late 20th century, will play a very different, and diminished, role in the theatre of a post-Modern, post-AIDS world.