REVIEWS: WHENEVER YOU'RE READY(more details); MAMA MIA!(more details); MACBETH(more details); GRAND HOTEL(more details); THE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW(more details); SUTRA(more details); A TASTE OF EMPIRE(more details); FUN HOME(more details); THE OVERCOAT(more details); THE GOD GAME(more details); BLACK BOYS(more details); KING CHARLES III(more details); A DELICATE BALANCE(more details);
More reviews under each category
Some reviews from this site also appear at
Born to an Armenian father and an Anglo-Indian mother, Keith Garebian holds a doctorate in Canadian and Commonwealth Literature from Queen’s University. The author of twenty-four books and a chapbook, he is a widely-published writer. His reviews and articles have appeared in over a hundred newspapers, journals, magazines, and anthologies. In 2000, he became the first critic-at-large to be appointed by a public library, when he was contracted to post theatre and book reviews for three years on the website for the Mississauga Public Library. His poetry has been published in Impulse, Echo, Inscape, The Antigonish Review, Literary Review of Canada, Exile, Quarry, Grain, The Malahat Review, and various anthologies. The winner of the prestigious William Saroyan Medal in Armenia, and the 2000, 2008, and 2013 Mississauga Arts Award for Writing, he won First Prize in the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Contest in 2009, writing grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council, and top prizes for poetry from a variety of journals and arts councils. Some of his work has been translated into French, Armenian, German, Chinese, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Hindi. He has served as a juror for the Grand Prix de la Ville de Montreal Book Award, the City of Edmonton Book Award, the Gerald Lampert Poetry Award, the Dan Sullivan Memorial Poetry Award, the Scarborough Arts Council Poetry Contest, the Saving Bannister Poetry Award, and the Ontario Arts Council. A member of the League of Canadian Poets, he is available for public readings and symposia. He contributes book reviews to the prestigious World Literature Today website in the U.S.
Keith’s book, ‘Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady,’ (Routledge) has been reviewed by arts journalist-poet David Bateman on batemanreviews.blogspot.ca. Here are excerpts from this review:
‘Poet, arts journalist, and acclaimed musical theatre expert, Keith Garebian has neatly combined queer theory, biography, and his own special brand of accessible, engaging writing that adds a unique perspective to the presence of a great play that became a great musical. He doesn’t shy away from the intimate personality details that mingle with the characters that both Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison brought to their interpretations of the pivotal roles of Eliza and Henry. Nor does he mince words about Moss Hart’s presence as a closeted homosexual director who brought the kind of vigour and skill necessary to push this iconic score through arduous rehearsals, revisions, and a variety of fascinating behind the scenes scenarios. …Telling the truth in the light of late twentieth-century queer theory, with the aid of extensive research and impressive knowledge of the musical theatre genre, Garebian gives his reader a delightful and enlightening new look at an old somewhat “politically incorrect” text. Not to dismiss the beauty of the songs, or the romance of the tale, and yet Garebian himself speaks directly to the misogyny of the text, to Harrison’s reputation as a somewhat abrasive ladies man, Andrews’s trained “innocence” and “chaste femininity” that had to be sculpted carefully by Hart, not to mention the subtly crafted homosocial triangle that occurs between the two men vying for the attention of the fair lady….It is the mixture of machismo, innocence, and a severely delineated class structure–the division between the rich and the poor–that creates the dramatic tension–a tension that is simultaneously heightened and alleviated through song (courtesy of the genius of Lerner and Loewe) that gives Garebian’s text such a lively and engaging tone–contributing to an ongoing discussion regarding one of the most popular pieces of 20th century musical theatre.’
Another positive review–this one from Jeffrey Round, posted on Vailed, March 27, 2017:
‘In an age of seemingly exhaustive biographies and prolific cultural studies, Routledge’s Fourth Wall “study series” offers a refreshingly intimate look at some turning points in modern theatrical history.
Keith Garebian’s Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady is a distillation of years of the author’s intimate knowledge about this and other musicals. His love for his subject and his impeccable prose make reading it a delight, as he cleverly dissects the personal and artistic, showing how one helped form the other in what was to become the Broadway version of George Bernard Shaw’s much-loved tale of the erudite Englishman who teaches a Cockney flower girl to pass as a “lady.”
Most revealing are his stories of how Julie Andrews struggled to broaden the scope of her acting, at times under duress from the callow egotism of co-star Rex Harrison, and how in real life Harrison managed to combine the role of well-bred Englishman with that of the sexist alpha-male. (With an eventual full count of six wives and two autobiographies to his credit, or discredit, he was well-suited to the part.)
Wisely, Garebian includes Moss Hart, the show’s “sexually ambiguous” director who put the show through numerous revisions until it became what has been referred to as “the perfect musical.” The contributions of Hart…ensured that there would be a gay code to the musical’s making. Garebian dives directly into this aspect as well, linking theories of sex roles and sexuality. The use of academic “queer theory” jargon all the rage in some quarters, is thankfully minimal…
On the whole, there is far greater emphasis on the show’s lyrics than its music, but this only serves to underline Garebian’s mastery of the language (he is also a poet). It’s here he shows his full understanding of the work’s literary elements. The result, a thorough yet easily digested analysis, makes the work relevant to today’s audiences, rendering it far more than just a lovely anachronism.’
We received over 100 manuscripts for Quartet 2019. Thank you to everyone who submitted, you made it a very challenging task to narrow the list down to only four titles. Our authors for 2019 are:
World Famous American Composer Gregory Spears has set one of my Derek Jarman poems to music for choir and instrument. It will be part of a larger work described below:
THE TOWER AND THE GARDEN
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27 @ 8PM
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill
Pre-concert talk with Donald, Gregory, James, and Joel @ 7pm in the Burleigh Cruikshank Memorial Chapel
newly commissioned works by Gregory Spears and James Primosch
These questions lie at the root of poems by Thomas Merton and Denise Levertov. Set by Gregory Spears in a new 30-minute work for strings and choir, they also ask us to consider the relationship between technological innovation and its dangers that often lead to haunting sociological change. Philadelphia composer James Primosch sets an excerpt from Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, an exploration of the balancing effect of desire and longing on our lives. The program includes two additional works written for The Crossing, Toivo Tulev’s A child said, what is the grass? and Joel Puckett’s dizzying, entrancing I enter the earth.
Gregory Spears The Tower and the Garden
THE TOWER AND THE GARDEN
The Tower and the Garden is a setting of three poems for choir and strings. The texts juxtapose the dangers of unchecked technological advancement (the tower) and the need for a place of refuge (the garden) in a world threatened by war and ecological disaster. Each text is written by (or about) artists who used Catholic thought or Catholic imagery to challenge the status quo.
The first text, by poet and Catholic activist Denise Levertov, is a meditation on the tower of Babel and the dangers of technological collapse. The second poem, written by Trappist monk and social activist Thomas Merton, is a meditation on the garden of Gethsemane and the search for truth amidst the uncertainties of the modern world. The poem, which was published in 1968, has an eschatological tone in keeping with the turmoil-filled era of the late-60s. The final poem, written by Keith Garebian, is an homage to queer filmmaker Derek Jarman and his small cottage garden at Dungeness, England. Situated precariously between a nuclear power plant and the sea, the cottage and garden was Jarman’s austere refuge during the final months of his struggle with AIDS. While an atheist and highly critical of the church, Derek Jarman was intrigued by the role religious and hagiographic narratives could play in his filmed critiques of the British establishment. This is is most notable in his film The Garden, which was shot in Dungeness.
**MY NEW BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM HUTT, WILLIAM HUTT: SOLDIER ACTOR,
WILL BE RELEASED DECEMBER 3, 2017 BY GUERNICA EDITIONS! THE LAUNCH IS AT REVIVAL HOUSE (FORMERLY THE CHURCH RESTAURANT) IN STRATFORD, ON ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3, FROM 2-5 PM. CASH BAR, FINGER FOODS, ENTERTAINMENT, INCLUDING MY 30-MINUTE READING FROM THE BOOK
552 pages Hardcover
$37.95 Canada, $37.95 US
Guernica Editions, Fall 2017
William Hutt showed that it was possible to be a great classical actor without sacrificing his Canadian accent or cultural identity. His imperishable portraits of Tartuffe, King Lear, Lear’s Fool, Feste, Khlestakov, Duke Vincentio, Titus Andronicus, Timon, Argan, Lady Bracknell, James Tyrone, Sr., and Prospero ensured that he will be remembered as long as there is cultural memory. Offstage, he could be charming and witty or moody and oppressively grand. He remained the Duke of “Dark Corners” to many who wished to know him more intimately. In this detailed, probing, and thought-provoking biography, Keith Garebian weaves together Hutt’s private and public lives, his most intense conflicts, deepest yearnings and anxieties in order to show how Hutt brought his life to his work and work to his life in a manner that left him vulnerable to wounds of the heart yet open to radical re-invention as an actor.
“William Hutt was one of the greatest actors of our time: a true theatre legend. He was also a deeply private person, an enigma even to those of us who knew him and worked with him. In this absorbing new biography, Keith Garebian not only offers us his personal perspective on Bill’s so potent art but also delves deep into the complexities and conflicts within the master magician himself.” (Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival)
***James Karas has reviewed the biography on his website jameskarasreviews.blogspot.ca. Here are excerpts from this review:
“It is a major contribution to the history of Canadian theatre and a superb portrait of Hutt, warts and all, as a performer, artist and human being. [Garebian] leaves no stone unturned and one is continually impressed by the breadth and depth of his research…Garebian covers a large swath of theatre history in the second-half of the 20th century in Ontario as it is connected to Hutt…Hutt’s complex personal life receives well-deserved coverage…Garebian is astutely and keenly interested in Hutt’s development as an actor…From becoming proficient at comedy such as Noel Coward roles to finding his inner self or the inner self of the characters that he played was a long journey of discovery for Hutt that Garebian covers meticulously.”
HERE IS WHAT MARTIN MORROW, PRESIDENT OF THE CANADIAN THEATRE CRITICS ASSOCIATION, SAYS OF THE WILLIAM HUTT BIOGRAPHY in :
“Few would dispute that Christopher Plummer is Canada’s most famous
Now, with the recent publication of Keith Garebian’s William Hutt: Soldier Actor, he has the major biography that he deserves. Keith, who published two previous books on Hutt when the actor was still alive, has been labouring on this one for years and the result is a rich, highly readable tome, lavishly illustrated with photos (as all books about the theatre should be), that covers the full scope of the man and his achievements.” (Critically Speaking, Spring 2018)
*** UPCOMING READINGS
The Fourth Wall
WINNER 22ND ANNUAL SURREY INTERNATIONAL WRITERS CONFERENCE POETRY CONTEST!
I am delighted to have been chosen as First Prize winner in an international poetry contest originating in Vancouver, B.C. I look forward to having the opportunity to do featured readings of my poetry next year in B.C.
COUNCIL SENIOR ARTS GRANT FOR CREATIVE
WRITING TO COMPLETE BIOGRAPHY OF
validates my project on a national level, and I was informed that my sample
ranked in the top five of Non-Fiction applications in the Established
Writers category, i.e. those writers who have published at least six
literary books (all genres included) with a professional publishing house.
There were 879 eligible applicants for the grant in the October 2013
contest, of which 146 were successful, i.e. received grants ranging from
$3,000 to $25,000. In the Non-Fiction category, 10 of the 61 applicants in
the Emerging Writers category were successful; 11 of the 58 in the
Mid-Career category; and 5 out of 28 in the Established Writers category.
I have posted videos of myself reading or reciting some of my poems from 'Children of Ararat,' 'Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems,' and other sources at www.youtube.com. Simply search for 'Videos of Keith Garebian' and the appropriate links will appear.
Readers are urged to read the very best interview I have ever had. This one, conducted by Elana Wolff, covers some of the most significant books I have written. This is the link:http://www.openbookontario.com/news/elana_wolff_interviews_keith_garebian
Here is a list of
books, theses, or articles that cite at least one of my articles or books as a
Acevedo-Munoz’s ‘West Side Story’ as Cinema
Award-winning actor and playwright Tony Nardi has this to say in his recent book Two Letters...And Counting!: "Keith Garebian and Robert Cushman...invest more thought in what they write than most critics and allow their writings to expose the writer as much as the subject he treats."
Honoured to be invited
to participate in a special Writers' conference in Yerevan, Armenia, July
2013, for Diaspora Armenians who compose in languages other than Armenian.
Even more honoured to be awarded the prestigious William Saroyan Medal on
July 15, 2013.
Minister of Diaspora, Hranush Hakobyan, pinning the
William Saroyan medal on me at Ministry office, Yerevan, July 15, 2013.
To date, my most treasured award.
My new book of haiku (with
illustrations also by me) has just been published by Guernica Editions. Here
is the full spread cover showing my paintings on front and back. The
illustrations within the book (including the running emblem of wild grass at
the bottom of each page) are in black and white on special paper. The price
IMPORTANT NEWS FLASH!!
My new, revised, considerably expanded edition of The Making of 'Cabaret' is forthcoming from Oxford University Press (New York) in April 2011. This replaces the first edition done by Mosaic Press, so all libraries, schools, colleges, and universities should order the new edition that has 37 illustrations and has received glowing reports from eminent American readers.
The next anticipated title for OUP is The Making of 'West Side Story' .All forthcoming editions are my officially sanctioned ones and are to be used instead of the first editions from Mosaic that suffer from weak production values.
What the critics have said:
“...powerful images...Garebian's words evoke the vivid colours and intense emotions of Kahlo's surreal paintings, which evoke the flora and fauna, folklore and traditions of Mexico. Poetic allusions to actual self-portraits interspersed with brief prose passages express Kahlo's physical pain, her love and admiration for Diego Rivera, and the suffering caused by his affairs.” (Roseanna Dufault, Canadian Literature, Vol. 191, Winter 2006 )
*Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems (2008)
“.a beautiful and evocative tribute...Garebian's
poetic take on Jarman's life riffs on a variety of influences and
inspirations...Graced by degrees of subtle allusions to other works,
Garebian's poetry is, at times, reminiscent of Adrienne Rich's love poetry
and Ginsberg's call to America during intense political moments....Garebian's
romantic alliterative play...moves this collection beyond beautiful gestures
and into a powerful and highly original space...Garebian's work both defies
and defines an important poetic canon as he moves through the life of
another artist, within another medium, striving for beauty and excellence
within a marginalized form, yet simultaneously reaching out toward a world
“He can vivify relatively
straightforward realism or abandon it altogether: presenting
sensuous tableaux that swirl magically into gymnastic action.
He can shift abruptly yet convincingly between the ornate and the coarse,
the ethereal and the nightmarish, the wittily cerebral and the violently
brutal. A sensibility both filmic and painterly is fully operative, and in
passage after passage a sinuous energy joins an uncanny clarity of
expression. There's a rare urbane panache and aplomb in scene-setting, in
characterization, in narrative drive and in thought....Blue is an
outstanding, sustained achievement and takes us places, full-frontally,
which most poetry lacks the imaginative and stylistic resources to do more
than flirt with.”
“What I find refreshing about Keith Garebian's Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems is that upon reading this volume, one gets the sense of Jarman's life without getting bogged down in detail. It is the sort of biography that suits a man whose life was centered on art and sex...Blue is an enjoyable and engaging book of poems that will have you rushing out to your indie movie store to rent some of Jarman's unique and fascinating films.” (Vincent Ponka, Broken Pencil, July 1, 2008)
“Graced by degrees of subtle citation...powerful and highly
“Garebian’s virtuoso trick is to only once or twice in the
entire collection slip into a description of Jarman's desires not expressed
through action....Garebian's skill comes in the activation of the eyes: with
this choice he creates the illusion of observed fact rather than speculation
and authorial commentary. The 'tension' then between Garebian's subect and
the way it is shown has everything to do with the illusion of autonomy he
creates for Jarman, the character, from author and reader alike.”
“Keith Garebian’s Blue is a haunting elegy to an artist whose films left an indelible mark on queer consciousness, as much because of Jarman’s brashness at a time when we were all battening down the hatches and doing damage control in our own lives, both public and private, because of the onslaught of aids, as well as because of Jarman’s uniquely personal vision as a filmmaker.
The poems reverberate with an intimate and cumulative knowledge of the artist’s work seen in hindsight. At times, they achieve a visionary quality that stems from a critical perception of Jarman’s oeuvre, coupled with Garebian’s personal imagining of the man behind the work. In this way, the poems serve as both biography and critical exegesis of the films. Edward II: A Queer History, for instance, is as much a snapshot of Jarman’s film as of his imagining of the misbegotten monarch who bears its title, while the multi-part Caravaggio serves as a series of vignettes illuminating both the historical artist and his modern-day artist-biographer.
While not lengthy, Blue is a full work. The book is cleverly divided into a biographical Prologue, a critical Corpus, and a final section, Blue, that serves as a meditation on the dying Jarman and his final work, Blue, a non-imagistic “film” that provided a backdrop for Jarman’s ponderings on life, death and art.
These works contain both vibrant imagery and richly imagined drama, and are a pleasure to read. They should be—they were written by a masterly word-artist and inventor who might, had the two met, have mesmerized Jarman with his own creativity.”
(Jeffrey Round, www.jeffreyround.com)
“Garebian skillfully foregrounds that deep sense of longing throughout the three major units of the collection: in the opening 'Prologue' section with a piece entitled "Five Versions of His Night with Gavin,' for instance, where in its 'Penultimate Version' we encounter 'desire set in your heart/like a blue/stone in a secret ring'; then, later in the middle section's 'The Corpus,' where the much longer 'Caravaggio''s ninth lyric entitled 'Blue is Poison' presents us with a similar 'desire for cunning/thought, without overlooking/what you find in blue/inside your head, inside your heart,/purposively absorbed'; until finally, in the concluding 'Blue' section, a poem like 'In Water and In Dream' foregrounds the colour blue appropriately as 'nothing more/than a desire to mirror you/in chaos and ecstasy, no/more than a beginning, desire/a journey into the unfamiliar.'..Garebian is perhaps quite right here to interrogate Jarman's filmic and literary artistry as a journey into the 'unfamiliar.'...extraordinarily accomplished...” (David Jarraway, The Journal of Canadian Poetry: For The Year 2008, Vol. 25, 2010)
*Children of Ararat (2010)
a passionate and angry collection of poems focusing on the massacre of
ethnic Armenians in Turkey in June, 1915. ...The book, though, is more than
a catalogue of atrocities....the book opens with a selection of poems that
reflect on his father’s
‘the whole mad history of it.’
Other poems explore the effects of the genocide on the survivors and on the
descendants of victims. Garebian also comments on how the genocide has
affected artists of Armenian descent and their works: the paintings of
Arshile Gorky, the plays of William Saroyan, and the films of Atom Egoyan...The
writing is evocative and full of powerful images. Sometimes, as Garebian
describes, the whole landscape answered in pain:
the staked olive trees, the partridge/caught their spurs in wires/wrenching
the skies with cries.’”
is a momentous collection rendered by a poet in his prime. Children of
Ararat takes the reader on a harrowing journey beginning with the
Armenian Genocide of 1915 and continuing on to the denial that lingers to
this day. While the horror is made clear, there is something oddly joyful in
the mourning, in the poet’s
ability to give voice to the long-dead. Without hyperbole, the poet evokes
the gruesome events and articulates how, as the inheritor of his father's
experiences, he finds himself
‘trapped in an abyss’
created nearly a century ago. As with his previous collection, Blue: The
Derek Jarman Poems, Garebian once again creates a living elegy that at
times reaches almost beyond words.”
writes with solicitousness, rage, and pure confidence in his resources...Garebian
places poetry at the service of his identity--personal, political, and
human--and draws vitally from the store of imaginative vigour. The poems in
Children of Ararat are creations of a man with an
--a man who
belongs to the people, to his father’s people, as well as to a wider span of
citizenry intent on the pursuit of transparency, justice, and human renewal.”
(Elana Wolff, Open Book Toronto, August 3, 2010)
collection is a moving reflection, in burning poetics, on the fragments of
memory and body--'backbones, femurs, joints,' an 'eye socket'--left by the
Armenian genocide...Some, like Garebian, whose father survived, go on to
speak eloquently, even poetically, for those who were silence. As he writes,
'This tongue tries a reparation of speech/beyond the reliquary ashes of
books./It licks the caves where the dead/lie in their long hibernation.'”
(Robin Durnford, vueweekly.com)
*The Making of 'Cabaret' (2nd edition) (2011)
“Garebian tells the story of an important musical in a manner that is both compelling and page-turning. Yes, Garebian must weave together his story from varied accounts and sources stretching over 45 years; but he does so in a manner that gives us the big, overall picture instead of a fragmented one. ” (Steven Suskin, Playbill.Com, July 2011)
"Purely wonderful and inspiring, "The Making of 'Cabaret'" is the most beautifully-written academic text I've ever had the pleasure of being consumed by--and consumed I was, fully and unconditionally. The author's passion for theatre, history, and Cabaret in all its forms shines through, amidst an often poetic style of prose. This is the kind of writer I've always wanted to be. I've been inspired by this book, which I felt truly spoke to me, to perhaps research my own favourite (and historically ignored) theatre productions, and perhaps illuminate them with even an ounce of beauty that Garebian has here in his book. It is well-researched and documents all notable productions of Cabaret, citing reviews and first-hand accounts of each element of the production process that you could want to know about. This book was all I could have wanted and more." (Saskia Penn, Goodreads, April 9, 2013)
“A marvelous job.”
"Alisa Solomon’s Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof would make a fine addition to the handful of books that focus only on a single musical, some of which include Ted Chapin’s Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies, Todd Decker’s Show Boat: Performing Race in an American Musical, Scott Miller’s Let the Sunshine In: The Genius of Hair and Keith Garebian’s The Making of Cabaret. These often turn out to be more insightful than the countless surveys of musical theater history, which are often broad and superficial. " (Matt Windman, Theater News Online)
"...an impressive balancing act of entertainment and instruction as he deftly and deeply explores the historical, artistic, and structural process of creating and producing a groundbreaking musical...The Making of 'Cabaret' honors every artistic collaborator who has shaped Cabaret's production history and makes good on Garebian's promise to 'capture the collaborative excitement' involved in producing one of the greatest musicals of the twentieth century...His jargon-free analysis of the musical and its various productions make this 'compendious reference' a resource suited to dramaturgs, theatre historians, directors, and musical theatre enthusiasts." (Valerie Joyce, Theatre History Studies, Vol. 34, 2015)
"Sometimes blatant stupidity is a cause for amusement,
sometimes for aggravation. Not many people build a shrine to it
and watch it self-immolate, but that is what critic and writer Keith
Garebian has done. Taking sure aim at the American Right (an easy target,
you may say, but Garebian had done his due diligence in what would please
any rigorous academic). Garebian provides us with a panoply of public
pronouncements presented as Found Poetry. The results are as hil"arious to
contemplate as they are unnerving to read. ..For someone like me, who tries
to avoid politics in general and American politics in particular, some of
these pieces are so astounding as to make me reconsider the phrase, 'Know
thy enemy.'...This book deserves to be one of those handy pocket books that
sits besides every cash register in every gift shop." (Jeff Round,
"In this collection, Keith Garebian weaves his own poetry
with journal entries, letters, and correspondence between artist Georgia
O'Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Fueled by this innovative mix,
Garebian reignites the fiery love between these two brilliant artists for
readers to admire anew." (World Literature Today, March 2016)
**MY SEVENTH POETRY COLLECTION, POETRY IS BLOOD, WILL BE PUBLISHED
IN THE SPRING OF 2018, ALSO BY GUERNICA EDITIONS.
This site was last updated 07/20/18