Editing Modernism in Canada


January 18, 2013

Kailin Wright and The God of Gods

Kailin Wright, Assistant Professor at St. Francis University, is working on a critical edition of Carroll Aikins’s play The God of Gods (1919). Kailin’s edition seeks to situate the play, which has been out of print since its first and only edition in 1927, within the field of Canadian literary modernism.

In order to take account of the different staging techniques in the play’s four productions (at Birmingham Theatre in 1919 and 1920, Hart House Theatre in 1927, and Everyman Theatre in 1931), Kailin researched the archival holdings both at Birmingham theatre — where she found photographs from the premiere production — and at Hart House theatre. In an interesting twist, Kailin discovered that the Hart House archives contained photographs of the Birmingham production directed by Sir Barry Jackson, suggesting that Jackson’s staging and directorial choices influenced the Toronto performances. Kailin has received written permission from the Sir Barry Jackson estate to publish the Birmingham production photos and archival findings, and she has also been in correspondence with the Carroll Aikins estate. Aikins’s granddaughter has provided oral permission to publish the play, and has offered to help with Kailin’s project through interviews or by allowing Kailin access to Aikins’s manuscripts and library.

The rare and out-of-print 1927 edition of The God of Gods (published in Canadian Plays from Hart House Theatre) serves as the copy text for Kailin’s edition because it best represents the play’s production in Canada. However, this text neglects the productions’ integral music accompaniment (the protagonist is a singer), and offers no critical introduction or textual notes. Kailin’s explanatory notes on the staging techniques will not only supplement the incomplete edition, but also facilitate classroom study of the play and help to foster international interest.

In addition to providing a more complete guide to The God of Gods, Kailin’s edition aims to recuperate the play as a modernist Canadian work featuring overt influences from European and American modernisms. So far, she has completed a draft of the script text with annotations on the Birmingham and Hart House production choices. Currently, Kailin is working on textual notes on literary echoes, including allusions to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. Kailin has also researched and is in the process of drafting a critical introduction to her edition.

Kailin’s EMiC stipend has not only enabled her to embark on this important editorial project, but has also provided her with opportunities to share her research findings with fellow scholars, editors, and publishers. In 2010, she presented a paper on her project at EMiC’s Conference on Editorial Problems. A longer version of the conference paper, entitled “Bringing the Text to Life: Editing the Modernist Canadian Play The God of Gods,” will be published as a chapter in Editing Modernism: Textual Scholarship and New Media (edited by Dean Irvine, Matt Huculak, and Vanessa Lent; University of Toronto Press in 2013). Further, an editor from the University of Alberta Press approached Kailin about publishing her edition after EMiC’s Conference on Editorial Problems; Kailin is currently working on a book prospectus for her project.

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