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CATR 2024 – Conference Schedule

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Wednesday, June 5

10:30 – 12:30 EDT

Welcoming Remarks & Keynote – Joel Bernbaum

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Sponsored by the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre and the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre, C-SET

 

Event Details and Description

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Sponsored by the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre and the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre, C-SET

Joel’s presentation will explore the potential of verbatim theatre to be used as a community development tool. It examines how social capital might be re-envisioned as a network of place-based relations, with the view of community as process; one which must be constantly and consistently repeated and maintained. The central argument is: verbatim theatre can be used as a way to create a non-literal place for ‘communing’ where humanization can occur. The conceptual framework is inspired by Indigenous knowledge, and critical discussion of the creation of place including race, dehumanization, and humanization. Indigenous knowledge offers non-colonial ways of conceptualizing how we understand, measure, and value spaces, places, and the interconnected relationship between all things. Social capital can be seen as sociality, or networks of relations between people and spaces that become places when they are endowed with meaning. This meaning is produced through relationships between people, which can only happen in place. Theatre arts have the potential to create places where ‘systematic humanizing’ can occur. 

Joel Bernbaum

Joel Bernbaum is theatre artist and journalist. He is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts and Carleton University, where he did his Master’s Thesis on Verbatim Theatre’s Relationship to Journalism. Joel’s produced plays includeOperation Big Rock, My Rabbi (with Kayvon Khoshkam), Home Is a Beautiful Word, Reasonable Doubt (with Yvette Nolan and Lancelot Knight) and Being Here: The Refugee Project (with Michael Shamata). Joel is the founding artistic director of Sum Theatre, for which he directed/co-directed thirteen plays seen by over 60,000 people.  Joel is currently an interdisciplinary PhD student at the University of Saskatchewan, investigating the potential of verbatim theatre to be used as a community development tool. He lives in Saskatoon with his eight year old son, Judah.  

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

12:45 – 14:15 EDT

Indigenous Theatre and Performance I (Online)

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

Moderator: Selena Couture

Julie Burrelle, ” “Oh, to confound Justice with Laws!”: Imagining beyond settler colonial time in Beth Piatote’s Antikoni.”

Jill Carter, “Working Title:  Playing in (the Eighth) Fire without Getting Burned”

Amanda Claudia Wager, Laura Cranmer, Daisy Elliott and Ann Hayamxsala’ogwa Woodward, “Shining Light on the Indian Hospitals: Reawakening Languages Through Theatre”

 

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Selena Couture

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

“Oh, to confound Justice with Laws!”: Imagining beyond settler colonial time in Beth Piatote’s Antimony

Indigenous artists-scholars have long urged settlers to go beyond performative utterances, “beyond [the] settler present, beyond colonial sovereignty, and beyond the human” (Stewart-Ambo & Yang 27). To do so, they ask that we first situate ourselves in our own stories and that we truly contend with the past and present and confront the “white ignorance” (Mills 247) behind which many of us have had the privilege to hide before we think of presenting ourselves as trustworthy co-conspirators in the radical reimagining of the structures that organize our living together. This paper reflects on an attempt at such “a relational turn” (Carter 186) through a ten-week undergraduate course at the University of California, San Diego. It focuses on the sustained collaboration between the students, myself, and author Beth Piatote (Nez Perce) whose play Antikoni, a superb Nez Perce adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, was central to the class. This article meditates in particular on the research and reflection that led the students and myself to enter in a deeper and more reciprocal embodied relationship –the beginning, perhaps, of relational turn– with Antikoni and its author, but also with UCSD, and its history on Kumeyaay land. This article reflects on receiving a story –that is, being entrusted with it– as ways to activate settler accountability and it documents how the students and I chose to reciprocate this gift by preparing and performing a staged reading as a way to listen to, reflect on, and begin to respond to Indigenous voices invested in thinking beyond.

Julie Burrelle, University of California – San Diego

Julie Burelle is a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Encounters on Contested Lands: Indigenous Performances of Sovereignty and Nationhood in Quebec (Northwestern University Press).

Working Title:  Playing in (the Eighth) Fire without Getting Burned

Encounters at the Edge of the Woods (2019) is a devised show—commissioned by Hart House Theatre to open its centenary and to mark one century of theatre-making on Indigenous land while excluding Indigenous voice. The creation of Encounters necessitated the curation of fluid spaces in which Indigenous participants and non-Indigenous allies would be able to address the history of ongoing colonial predation and consider a tangled and delicate project of relational repair.  This paper considers the process of relationship-building and intercultural collaboration in the wake of many valiant (albeit, infelicitous) attempts to forge efficacious Eighth Fire productions—attempts that predate Encounters by as many as four decades (see Nolan).  In this, I hope to contribute to existing scholarship around such collaborations and to begin to address Melissa Poll’s call for “studies that articulate and compare protocols within Indigenous-settler rehearsal processes” on Turtle Island (394).

References

  Nolan, Yvette. Medicine Shows: Indigenous Performance Culture. Playwrights Canada Press, 2015. 118-122.

  Poll, Melissa. “Towards an Eighth Fire Approach: Developing Modes of Indigenous-Settler Performance-Making on Turtle Island.” Contemporary Theatre Review. 31:4. (July 2021). 390-408.

Jill Carter, University of Toronto

Jill Carter (Anishinaabe-Ashkenazi) is a theatre practitioner and researcher, currently cross appointed to the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies; the Transitional Year Programme; and Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto. 

Shining Light on the Indian Hospitals: Reawakening Languages Through Theatre

The play Scenes from the Nanaimo Indian Hospital by Dr. Laura Cranmer is based on her three year stay at the Nanaimo Indian Hospital as a young child. While federal colonial laws greatly constrained Indigenous bodies and lives by corralling whole populations into federal institutions, such as residential schools and Indian hospitals, these spaces became meeting places for the great diversity of unique languages specific to their traditional territories. In this play, the Indian hospital is now re-imagined to be the confluence of the island’s great linguistic diversity embodied by three young girls—Dorothy Myth representing the Kwak’wala, Esther Williams representing Hul’q’umin’um, and Mary Robins representing Nuu-Chah-Nulth—whose growing friendship in the hospital’s Ward B consists of delight in language comparisons while sinister undercurrents are revealed in dialogue and action between the medical staff. This play script is the foundation of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant (co-applicants Drs. Amanda Wager and Laura Cranmer) to support the translation of the Hul’q’umin’um’, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, and Kwak’wala Languages by fluent Language Experts, who are Elders, from each language family, as well as to support the hiring of language learners, who are also new actors, to be coached in the pronunciation, teachings and exposure of their languages. 

Amanda Wager, Vancouver Island University

Amanda Claudia Wager is a Canada Research Chair in Community-Engaged Research/Professor of Education at Vancouver Island University. Of Jewish Ashkenazi ancestry, born in Los Angeles and raised in Amsterdam, she embraces learning languages and creating art as cultural advocacy. Her research focuses on community-led art projects and participatory arts-based methodologies.

Laura Cranmer

Laura Cranmer is the daughter of Pearl Weir of Old Masset, David Cranmer of the ‘Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay, and raised by her grandparents, Chief Dan Cranmer and Agnes Cranmer. Laura’s research interests include Indigenous latent/semi-speakers seeking to increase their proficiency, arts-based research and Indigenous language reclamation research.

Daisy Elliott, Vancouver Island University

Daisy Elliott (Snuneymuxw/Musgamagw) holds a BA in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies and is doing her MA in Community Planning at Vancouver Island University. She is the Crisis Line Manager for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, the mental health support at rehearsals and performances and the Nurse Faith actor, a Kwak’wala speaker.

Ann Hayamxsala’ogwa Woodward, arc: a Centre for Art, Research & Community

Ann Ha̱ya̱mxsa̱la’ogwa Woodward (Finnish/Kwagu’ł/Tlingit/English) holds a BA in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies from Vancouver Island University, where she is currently the Research Centre Coordinator for the arc: a Centre for Art, Research & Community. Ann is a Kwak’wala language learner playing the role of Tsunuk̓wa, a legendary giantess.

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Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Gatherings: Archival and Oral Histories Working Group

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Convenor: Sarah Robbins

 

 

Event Details and Description

Convenor: Sarah Robbins

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Gatherings: Archival and Oral Histories is seeking participants for a new CATR Working Group. Gatherings—a SSHRC-funded research Partnership focusing on the care and keeping of archival and oral histories of performance in Canada, has been in existence since 2018. It is a pan-Canadian and cross-institutional partnership of universities and non-academic organizations with the goal of creating a national community of scholars, artists, archivists and students who can meet on equal footing to discuss the preservation of performance traditions in the country, in all its complexity.

The Working Group follows one of our initiatives, the ‘Roadshow Series’ of online gatherings, during which individuals—along the lines of the ‘Antiques Roadshow’—make a brief presentation of an object or document that raises questions, or a question that has arisen from individual research projects, about the research goals, the relationship with the archival repository, or the processes of interviewing. We will pay attention to issues of access, of collection and reproduction, of the influence of technology, and the relationships we all forge (and need to forge) among and between archivists and with artists. This will be an open and expansive discussion, providing time and space to talk about the process of historical research.

The Working Group will meet in an online forum during CATR’s meeting in early June. Prior to this, Gatherings will be hosting monthly on-line ‘Roadshow’ Presentations beginning in March. These will be publicly announced, inviting open application, in the lead up to the online segment of the CATR conference. The existing members of our Working Group include the individuals who are listed on our website as involved in the full project.

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Keywords

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Performance, Migration and Nationalism Working Group

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

Convenors: Yana Meerzon, Sheetala Bhat and Stephen Elliot

Event Details and Description

Convenors: Yana Meerzon, Sheetala Bhat and Stephen Elliot

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

This working group aims to bring together Canadian and international specialists in theatre and performance studies and other disciplines to examine the complex impact of global migration and to critique the practices of rising nationalisms. Focusing on questions of representation, public discourse and the language of laws and legislation, this group will develop a collaborative approach for coherent interdisciplinary research to assess these practices. 

In the CATR 2024 conference, the group will focus its online meeting on the interconnections between migrant justice, nationalism, and decolonization practices in Canada and internationally. In relation to the Canadian context, for example, we aim to discuss what decolonization means to the study of migration when we center Indigenous sovereignty, as well as the ways theatre/performance scholarship addresses the role of settler colonialism in migrant justice. In relation to the global context, we propose to discuss staging justice in relation to “theatrics” of interactions between different practices and discourses of nationalisms and migration, including the interplay between newcomers’ ideas of nationalism and the host country’s existing and emerging forms of nationalism, and the changes in legislative systems of asylum seeking and immigration, border control, and activism. Among the questions we ask is how theatre and performance arts approach the context-specific and multidimensional relations between migrant justice, nationalism, and decolonization.

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14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Social Justice, Leadership, and Care in Performance

Moderator:

Location: Zoom Room C

Online Session

Cassandra Erb, “Immersive Theater as Leadership and Leading Social Justice”

Julia Henderson, “Justice, Caring, and Care-full Performance in How I Met My Mother”

Francesca Marini, “Incarcerated Women and Theatre: Rhodessa Jones, Artistic Practice and Social Justice

 

Event Details and Description

Moderator:

Location: Zoom Room C

Online Session

Immersive Theater as Leadership and Leading Social Justice

Goat in the Road Productions has staged three immersive theater pieces set in historic houses in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the first opening in spring of 2018 and the most recent closing in January 2023. The work is set in reconstruction era New Orleans and each story is historical fiction based on real events that took place in the city at that time. The following trilogy of plays represents storytelling as leading social justice movements, as well as aesthetic leadership exemplified in the vehicle of immersive presentation. The Stanger Disease was set at the historic property Madame John’s Legacy and takes place during the yellow fever outbreak of 1878. The story follows seven characters, intertwined by various relationships, centered around an inter-racial couple married in all but name. The Uninvited was set at the historic property The Gallier House and takes place during the White League led riot of 1874 and follows nine characters with differing opinions and access to escaping violence throughout the evening. The mob attempts to re-segregate an integrated primary school. The Family Line was set at The BK House during the 1892 general strike, a successful interracial organizing event that shut down the city for days before winning workers’ historic rights. Set in a Sicilian family’s grocery store, the story follows eight characters whose stories are intertwined by their heritage and labor. Goat in the Road Productions works in a collaborative method. All of the participants working on a project equally contribute to the development of that work.

Cassandra Erb, Goat in the Road Productions

Cassandra Erb is an independent curator and designer who has been working in the museum field for over fifteen years and is a recent member of Goat in the Road Productions ensemble. She holds a B.A. in painting, an M.F.A. in Exhibition Design, and is currently a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Leadership and Change at Antioch University. In her work, she is committed to cocreation and the idea that the creative act is not performed by the artist alone. Erb lives and works in New Orleans, LA.

Justice, Caring, and Care-full Performance in How I Met My Mother

How I Met My Mother is a play written and performed by Canadian actor Jon Paterson about his experience caring for his mother who lived with and eventually died of Alzheimer’s Disease. Performed throughout the North American Fringe Circuit in 2022, the play gained positive reviews and was chosen amongst the top shows at two festivals. The play’s narrative offers a story about how, for the playwright, caring for his mother led to self-discovery and feelings of redemption. This paper uses performance analysis to comment on the care ethics, aesthetics and practices encompassed in the play. Key to the play’s construction of care is its reciprocal quality. Paterson’s mother, who had shown continuity as a deeply caring individual throughout her life, continued to offer acts of care in the late stages of her dementia, challenging more common constructions of a “disabled dementia identity” as a receiver of care. In addition, Paterson’s performance of care for self and audience throughout the play further challenges more common notions of caregiving as unidirectional and reliant on normativity. As Maurice Hamington (2020) writes, “To care is not only to improvise what to do, it is to determine the moral parameters that unfold in the given situation” (29). In How I Met My Mother, the playwright acknowledges his neurodiversity (telling us he has ADHD), is transparent in the moment about contextual factors that challenge him, and attends to his needs as a performer improvisationally, while also offering care to his audience in meaningful ways.

Julia Henderson, University of British Columbia

Julia Henderson is an Assist. Prof. in the Dept. of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at UBC and holds a PhD in Theatre. Her research with older adults uses arts-based methods, especially theatre, to redress cultural ageism and promote citizenship. Julia has published in CTR, JADT, TRiC/RTAC, ACH, and RiDE.

Incarcerated Women and Theatre: Rhodessa Jones, Artistic Practice and Social Justice 

This paper discusses the work of theatre artist/activist Rhodessa Jones, who supports social justice through her work with incarcerated women. Based in San Francisco, in 1979 she co-founded the performing arts organization Cultural Odyssey, and in 1989 she founded The Medea Project, developing performance pieces with incarcerated women and women who are living with HIV. Her work can be examined in the context of applied theatre and devised theatre practices. Jones develops collaborative performances with women, and this leads to increased self-confidence, self-care and awareness, and a reduced recidivism rate. The people with whom Jones works transfer knowledge and skills to others through workshops and programs. Jones works closely with arts, academic, and health institutions and is a model of effective activism. 

This paper is based on existing sources and on an original interview with Jones addressing the following issues: how Jones works with the women who take part in her programs, including partnering with them as workshop facilitators once they acquire experience; how applied theatre and devised theatre practices are relevant to her work; how she views the impact of her work; what ethical issues she faces in her practice; how she measures the success of her work and collaborations; and what her plans for the future are: this includes a discussion of a manual that Jones has been writing about her practice, aimed at sharing her approaches with other practitioners.

Francesca Marini, Texas A&M University

Dr. Francesca Marini (she/her) is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University, School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts. She holds a doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); her research addresses performing arts documentation/archiving and theatre history. She teaches aesthetics of activism, devised theatre, and arts documentation.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Gatherings: Archival and Oral Histories Working Group

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Convenor: Sarah Robbins

 

 

Event Details and Description

Convenor: Sarah Robbins

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Gatherings: Archival and Oral Histories is seeking participants for a new CATR Working Group. Gatherings—a SSHRC-funded research Partnership focusing on the care and keeping of archival and oral histories of performance in Canada, has been in existence since 2018. It is a pan-Canadian and cross-institutional partnership of universities and non-academic organizations with the goal of creating a national community of scholars, artists, archivists and students who can meet on equal footing to discuss the preservation of performance traditions in the country, in all its complexity.

The Working Group follows one of our initiatives, the ‘Roadshow Series’ of online gatherings, during which individuals—along the lines of the ‘Antiques Roadshow’—make a brief presentation of an object or document that raises questions, or a question that has arisen from individual research projects, about the research goals, the relationship with the archival repository, or the processes of interviewing. We will pay attention to issues of access, of collection and reproduction, of the influence of technology, and the relationships we all forge (and need to forge) among and between archivists and with artists. This will be an open and expansive discussion, providing time and space to talk about the process of historical research.

The Working Group will meet in an online forum during CATR’s meeting in early June. Prior to this, Gatherings will be hosting monthly on-line ‘Roadshow’ Presentations beginning in March. These will be publicly announced, inviting open application, in the lead up to the online segment of the CATR conference. The existing members of our Working Group include the individuals who are listed on our website as involved in the full project.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Performance, Migration and Nationalism Working Group

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

Convenors: Yana Meerzon, Sheetala Bhat and Stephen Elliot

Event Details and Description

Convenors: Yana Meerzon, Sheetala Bhat and Stephen Elliot

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

This working group aims to bring together Canadian and international specialists in theatre and performance studies and other disciplines to examine the complex impact of global migration and to critique the practices of rising nationalisms. Focusing on questions of representation, public discourse and the language of laws and legislation, this group will develop a collaborative approach for coherent interdisciplinary research to assess these practices. 

In the CATR 2024 conference, the group will focus its online meeting on the interconnections between migrant justice, nationalism, and decolonization practices in Canada and internationally. In relation to the Canadian context, for example, we aim to discuss what decolonization means to the study of migration when we center Indigenous sovereignty, as well as the ways theatre/performance scholarship addresses the role of settler colonialism in migrant justice. In relation to the global context, we propose to discuss staging justice in relation to “theatrics” of interactions between different practices and discourses of nationalisms and migration, including the interplay between newcomers’ ideas of nationalism and the host country’s existing and emerging forms of nationalism, and the changes in legislative systems of asylum seeking and immigration, border control, and activism. Among the questions we ask is how theatre and performance arts approach the context-specific and multidimensional relations between migrant justice, nationalism, and decolonization.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

CATR Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Session

Location: Zoom Room C

Online Session

Committee Chair & Convenor: Robin Whittaker

Open to all conference participants

Event Details and Description

Committee Chair & Convenor: Robin Whittaker

Location: Zoom Room C

Online Session

Open to all conference participants.

CATR’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression (ARAO) Committee discusses CATR’s recent ARAO actions and seeks input on future activities.

For an overview of the CATR ARAO Committee’s work and future plans, please see this slideshow:

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

18:00 – 20:00 EDT

University of Toronto Press Journals Launch: CTR

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Event Details and Description

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Thursday, June 6

11:00 – 12:30 EDT

Bodies and Agency in Drama & Performance

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Moderator: Shelley Liebembuk

Lizzie Jago, “Exploring human-elephant conflict through playwriting in Kenya”

Kimber Sider,  “Katrina:  Animal Individuality and Performing Agency”

Sarah Waisvisz, “Dancing through Diasporic Grief”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Shelley Liebembuk

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Exploring human-elephant conflict through playwriting in Kenya

Set against the backdrop of apparent human disconnect from nature as a cause for degradation of the planet, this article focuses on the human-elephant conflict in areas of rural Kenya, and the ways in which playwriting explores and performs that relationship.  Working within traditional conflict resolution practices of dialogue, the article questions ways in which to decentre humans, foregrounding equitable justice in bringing the elephant into the conversation too, through theatre.

The Trial of Athena is a one act piece of interactive theatre, currently touring communities in Kenya, with the audience as jury, where a matriarch elephant is put on trial for killing a four-year-old human child at the foot of Taita Hills, Kenya. As the play unfolds the multifaceted and complex relationship that has created human/elephant conflict is explored, with the audience being asked to give the final verdict. 

The matriarch elephant is represented on stage by a large puppet, operated by two people, completely created out of natural and recycled materials.  Through her presence, the writing process explores ways in which playwriting can deepen our understanding of the human/elephant relationship, centering her as a non-verbal (in human language) character and her ability to connect, evoke empathy and communicate with the audience, bringing us into her world, creating a new relationship with humans through theatre. 

Her physical presence challenges western notions of anthropomorphism, examining her role in the play through a Kenyan lens of spiritual and mythological beliefs of human connection with elephant life forms, rooted in the ancient oral literature of the cultures. 

Lizzie Jago, Youth Theatre Kenya

I am a playwright, the Artistic Director and co-founder of Youth Theatre Kenya, with an understanding of conflict, and a passion for peace, encompassing peace resolution work in the Great Lakes region post the Rwandan war of 1994, to community theatre, both with the Elephant Queen Outreach and the Population Conversation in Kenya.

Katrina:  Animal Individuality and Performing Agency

So often in art, animals—and horses especially—are included as metaphors. Their bodies are used to represent freedom or beauty in an anthropocentric sense. They are rarely included as unique individuals, empowered with their own agency, interests, and objectives. This metaphorical framing overrides their personalities and perspectives, encouraging humans to see each animal as fixed and interchangeable with the next. But as Una Chaudhuri writes, “animals are not figments of our imaginations. They have … real lives as rich and valuable as our own” (38). How can we push back against this interspecies injustice, and learn to honour animals in their own light? Is it possible to destabilize the anthropocentric gaze within a creative act? Or does the act of framing an animal in performance, inherently override the individuality of that animal? 

In 2023, I was invited to create a video installation for Supercrawl, an outdoor arts festival. In this piece, I explored how performance could be used to highlight the agency and individuality of a single animal actor, Katrina (my horse companion). However, the delivery and execution of this work proved to be more complex. The creation of this work was highly improvisational, inviting Katrina to collaborate and influence the creation. The exporting of this work involved audio and video manipulation to highlight Katrina’s experience, drawing an audience into a new intimate relationality with an individual horse. However, when the final installation was released into the wild of an urban, human-centric space, Katrina was admired, objectified, and/or ignored. Was she acknowledged as an individual? Or did the deep history of metaphorizing her body override the nuance of her being? 

Works Cited

Chaudhuri, Una. “Animal Acts for Changing Times.” American Theatre, October, 2004, pp. 36-155.

Kimber Sider, University of Waterloo

Kimber Sider is a multimodal storyteller working predominantly in performance and documentary film. Sider is the Artistic Director of the Guelph Film Festival, holds a PhD in theatre from the University of Guelph, and is a Lecturer in Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo. 

Dancing through Diasporic Grief

In 2003 performance scholar Diana Taylor wrote that the body could remember and teach history just as a written Archive could, and that this compendium of corporeal memory (the Repertoire) could include music, songs, dance, gestures that are not simply ephemeral but in fact historical. More recently Layla Zami argues, in Contemporary PerforMemory: Dancing Through Spacetime, Historical Trauma, and Diaspora in the 21st Century (2020), that “perforMemory” demonstrates how integral dance performance is to political remembering of traumata[sic]” (57), and how “PerforMemory foregrounds corporeality as a mode of production and transmission of cultural memory […] a remedy to the epidemic silencing that erodes the memorialization of political trauma” (29), so that through dance both archive and repertoire are accessed to “generate memory transmission” (58), to create new pathways for remembering and surviving.

Sarah Waisvisz, Queen’s University

With Afro-Caribbean, French, Dutch, and Jewish heritage, Sarah lives at the intersection. She is a playwright, dramaturge, and multi-disciplinary performer. Her solo script Monstrous, about the Afro-Caribbean-diaspora experience and mixed-race identity, was published in alt.theatre 13.3 and performed at b current’s rock.paper.sistahz festival in Toronto and across Canada and the US. Her 2-act play Heartlines (about queer-Jewish activists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore), premiered to sold-out audiences at Ottawa’s 2020 undercurrents festival and had a sold-out mainstage run at Great Canadian Theatre (GCTC) in 2022; Heartlines will be published in December 2023 by Methuen Drama (Bloomsbury UK). Sarah has been Artist-in-Residence at GCTC and at the National Arts Centre. She is currently working on Double Helix, an Afro-futurist, magical-realist play about the African diaspora, and she directed Donna-Michelle St. Bernard’s Witness Shift for Obsidian Theatre and CBC Arts as part of the filmed anthology 21 Black Futures. Sarah is Assistant Professor at the DAN School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

11:00 – 12:30 EDT

Staging justice through cultural policy: perspectives from artists in multiple geographies

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

Panelists: Deniz Ünsal, Peter Verstraete, Burcu Yasemin Seyben, Deniz Başar, Taiwo Afolabi

Sponsored by the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre and the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre, C-SET

Event Details and Description

Curator: Taiwo Afolabi and Deniz Ünsal

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

Sponsored by the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre and the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre, C-SET

This curated panel brings three distinct yet connected research papers focusing on justice, ethics of care and cultural policies across different places. Using different methods, papers examine how cultural policies have impacted performing artists’ living and working conditions— immigrants and refugees. Afolabi and Unsal’s paper draws on Canadian cultural policy and strategies of artists who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in western Canada. Şeyben and Başar elaborate on self-fashioning and self-exoticizing discursive patterns that immigrant artists learn and tailor for themselves to succeed in Canadian theatre. Verstraete’s research centres on Turkey’s displaced theatre artists in Germany and the Netherlands.

Taiwo Afolabi is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre, University of Regina, Saskatchewan

Deniz Başar is a FRQSC post-doctoral fellow at Boğaziçi University

Burcu Yasemin Şeyben is  Assistant Professor of Theater and General Education at the College of Southern Idaho

Pieter Verstraete is an Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen.

Deniz Ünsal is an Assistant Professor at Royal Roads University

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

12:45 – 14:15 EDT

Politics and Performance

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Moderator: Michelle Macarthur

T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko and Adriana Disman, “Crowdsourcing the Canon: (Re)Imagining Global Performance Art Histories Against the Grain”

Lily Climenhaga, “(P(Re))Forming Justice: Milo Rau’s Trials and Tribunals”

Mark Onwe, “Performing Justice: Post-election Protests in Nigeria”

Keren Zaiontz, “The Ottawa People’s Commission as Dissident Community Action”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Michelle Macarthur

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Crowdsourcing the Canon: (Re)Imagining Global Performance Art Histories Against the Grain 

Since 2019, we have been coediting a new textbook for Routledge’s 50 Key series: 50 Key Performance Artists. While it was easy enough initially to imagine a list of 50 remarkable performance artists (or 100, or 150), we quickly realized that this was not the list that we would necessarily want to use in teaching or research ourselves; or, rather, that most of the artists we immediately thought of were those we could teach, easily enough, because they were already quite frequently written about in English. We noticed too that this list was dominated by links to New York City, the art market, and other flows of power that have in no small sense dominated the genre’s own teleological flow. (The latter is exemplified by a recently published book on the genre that justifies citing artists based primarily in Europe and the US because that is how the history of performance art has been told.) How might we define “key” beyond those criteria? Who are the artists that profoundly impact performance communities in contexts that receive little critical attention in English-language scholarship? And what would a more genuinely diverse list of key artists illuminate about multiple global histories of performance art? Is it possible to trace its lineages without limiting one’s reading to a genre-as-birthplace point of view often employed in art history-oriented survey courses or texts?

So, we took to the ground, as it were, reaching not for the established scholarly works of performance art (though we used them as a counterbalance) but rather to multiple generations of current performance artists and scholars from six continents to ask, Who are your 50 key performance artists?

Beginning at the point where geographic hubs that have typically been given critical attention are decentred, this book generates, we hope, a new kind of list that includes artists whose work has defined and redefined the genre but who are less readily familiar across English-language performance art scholarship. Thinking not through canon or chronology required us to define different criteria by which to evaluate the impact of potential listees-something made especially complex by our focus on underrecognised, body-based practices. Three years of intensive research into each of the hundreds of artists proposed to us, though harrowing at times, resulted in a clarity of a more community-engaged methodology that we mobilised for this book. 

The list of 50 performance artists we ultimately developed and put to press is not, by “western” academic standards of contemporary art and performance, canonical; but it is key. This presentation engages the methodological apparatus of ‘crowdsourcing’ we used in compiling the list—the assembly, assembling, and assemblage that finally yielded a TOC that we might be momentarily happy with but know has always been a project predicated on its own happy failure—and asks, for us, very profound questions about the purpose of survey-based textbooks and the process of their curation and compilation during a moment when scholarship and pedagogy become ever more accountable to matters of decolonization, unlearning, and the destabilization of what we mean by academic expectations, standards, and ‘the canon.’

T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko (University of Toronto)

T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko, PhD, is Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, where she specializes in experimental art, theatre, and performance, music-theatre, and feminist ethics of care.

Adriana Disman

Adriana Disman, PhD, is a performance artist and researcher. Their solo performance practice has been widely presented since 2010. Their writing on the curation and criticism of self-wounding in performance art can be found in both academic and arts publications.

(P(Re))Forming Justice: Milo Rau’s Trials and Tribunals

Since founding the production company International Institute of Political Murder (IIPM) in 2008, Swiss-German theater-maker Milo Rau has gained international acclaim, attention, and, at times, indignation for his politically engaged theatre. As a political artist, Rau has – alongside more classic productions – facilitated petitions, founded political parties, authored political declarations, staged public marches, as well as formed assemblies, think tanks, and talk shows that temporarily bring activists, artists, and politicians together.

“(P(Re))Forming Justice: Milo Rau’s Trials and Tribunals” looks at Rau’s trial and tribunal projects: The Moscow Trials (2013), The Zurich Trials (2013), and The Congo Tribunal (2015). It engages with the intersection of the political and the affective in Rau’s re-temporalization of necessary, but ultimately non-existent, institutions to create utopian, affective institutions demonstrate alternatives to those of the present. In uncovering the connection between the two aesthetic references of affect and politic, this presentation connects three elements of performance in Rau’s projects: (1) the political impulses of these constructed, temporary institutions, (2) their affective power, and (3) the concept and question of justice. By, on the level of theory, bringing together the anarchist concept of prefiguration, Frans-Willem Korsten’s apathy, Olivia Landry’s Theatre of Anger, and Robert Walter-Jochum’s Theatre of Outrage into contact with affect, “(P(Re))Forming Justice” uncovers how Rau’s tribunal theatre, in its creation of a jurisdiction located in the future – a prefiguration for what these spaces should look like – serves as a call to justice that breaks with contemporary apathy.

Lily Climenhaga, Universiteit Gent

Lily Climenhaga (she/they) completed a dissertation about Milo Rau and IIPM in a joint degree between the University of Alberta and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and co-edited Theater’s special edition on Milo Rau in 2021. Lily is currently undertaking the FWO-funded postdoctoral project “Institutionalized Resistance: Milo Rau’s NTGent Period” (1290323N) at Universiteit Gent.

Performing Justice: Post-election Protests in Nigeria

The Nigeria’s 2023 general elections generated varying reactions and responses. The European Union Election Observation Team described the election as lacking transparency and credibility. Humongous protests immediately suffused some streets of the country following the election umpire, Independent Electoral Commission (INEC)’s declaration of results and the litigations at the election tribunals, the Appeal and the Supreme Courts. The post-election protests took varying dimensions and included the deployment of diverse performative creativity to demand for justice. This paper interrogates these protests as performances of justice in Nigeria since the February 2023 general elections. A survey with interviews and analysis of audio-visual media of protests in Nasarawa State of Nigeria form the sample for this study. Archival research is also used to examine, in historical perspective, the role of performances in advocating justice in Nigeria. Data generated are subjected to content analyses. The findings from the research reveal how performances are reflecting the equity system and justice frameworks in contemporary Nigeria.

Mark Onwe, Federal University of Lafia, Nigeria

Mark Ogah Onwe is completing his doctorate in Theatre and Media Arts at the Federal University of Lafia, Nigeria. He obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Theatre Arts from the University of Jos and the Benue State University, Makurdi, respectively. His research interests cut across theatre and cultural change, festivals, literary theory and criticism, theatre aesthetics, script writing and play production where he has published several journal articles and contributed chapters to books.

The Ottawa People’s Commission as Dissident Community Action

In February 2022, people local to downtown Ottawa were caught in the grip of a three-week occupation that called for the end of public health measures—at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic—and the overthrow of parliament—in a government town. As hundreds of protestors in semitrucks rolled into Ottawa, blockaded the streets, and with the help of a well-funded, off-site logistical network, settled in with food and fuel, their demands literally idled in the impassable streets. Their populist message of “freedom” found expression in white, male-dominated scenes of public harassment and violence in the nation’s capital. It was the invocation of the Emergencies Act that brought the occupation to an end. The mandated Public Emergencies commission that followed included thousands of hours of testimony from both governmental officials and Convoy leaders. As key organizers from the Convoy “took the stand,” the commission became a platform for western separatists, conservative populists, conspiracy theorists, and even militant libertarians. In contrast, the people of Ottawa, were allotted one morning of public testimony. In anticipation of  being silenced, the local, grassroots Ottawa People’s commission (OPC) was formed and held parallel hearings in Fall 2022. This paper will detail the work of the OPC, a citizen led inquiry held both in person and online, that collected the stories of Ottawans impacted by the occupation. It will discuss both the public hearings and reports that the OPC produced. And it will posit that the OPC performed a dissident community action through testimony that called out the “Freedom Convoy” for what it was: a violent alt-right occupation.

Keren Zaiontz, University of British Columbia

Keren Zaiontz is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies in the Department of Film and Theatre at the University of British Columbia. She is author of Theatre & Festivals (Methuen Drama) and co-editor of Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times: Performance Actions in the Americas (Palgrave Macmillan), winner of the ATHE Award for Excellence in Editing. 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Staging Justice in Labour and other contexts

Location: Zoom Room B

Moderator: Taiwo Afolabi and Signy Lynch

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Taiwo Afolabi and Signy Lynch

Location: Zoom Room B

We will examine justice and labour within multiple contexts, including ongoing strikes at McGill, labour unions, labour within CATR, Canadian theatre scholarship, and ongoing encampments and protests.

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Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Global Performance, Intimate Spaces

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

Moderator: David Fancy

Abhimanyu Acharya, “‘‘Accidentally’ Decolonizing Theatre: Notes from an Experience of Directing a Non-Verbal Play”

Sarah Hart, “”Hilos de la memoria”: Collective Creation, Mourning, Healing, and Learning”

Heidi Malazdrewich, “A Performance of “Justpeace”? Mapping the Emergence of Intimacy Direction in Canadian Theatre”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: David Fancy

Location: Zoom Room A

Online Session

‘Accidentally’ Decolonizing Theatre: Notes from an Experience of Directing a Non-Verbal Play

In this paper, I aim to show how restrictions on the availability of resources can often lead to pleasant and surprising dramaturgical discoveries, and how decolonization of stage can as much be an effect of material conditions as it is of intent. I intend to argue this through documenting my three-pronged experience as a playwright, director and academic in the creation of my play ‘Execution: A tragicomedy without words’ that premiered in Mississauga in November 2023. Written as a mime piece based on the idea of colonial mimicry derived from the theories of Homi Bhabha, this play was produced by SAWITRI Theatre Group, a company serving the needs of theatre going South Asian community for the past twenty years. Since a not-for-profit organization eventually decided to produce this play, the resources vis-à-vis performance space, funding, availability of actors and lack of marketing were scant, at best. I wish to show how this so called lack of resources eventually allowed me to find ways to be more creative such that at the end of the rehearsal process, I was able to arrive at a theatrical idiom that was decolonizing in its approach and thus fit perfectly well with the themes of the play.

Abhimanyu Acharya (Western University)

Abhimanyu Acharya is a post-doctoral researcher at Western University. He is also a playwright and a director, and serves as the Assistant Artistic Director at SAWITRI Theatre and as a creative writing specialist at Kings University College.

“Hilos de la memoria”: Collective Creation, Mourning, Healing, and Learning

This is a reflection on the lessons learned from a collective-creation I facilitated with performing arts students and female victims of Colombia’s armed conflict at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá during 2022. We devised a piece titled “Hilos de la Memoria” (Threads of Memory) that combined testimonies about the unprosecuted assassinations of loved ones (a father, a husband, a son and a brother) with the students’ embodied responses to living in a culture of violence, silence, fear, mistrust and apathy, as well as invitations to the audience to become (inter)active participants/witnesses, in light of the current peace, reparations and transitional justice process. We reflected on how violence is perpetuated through patriarchal practices of obliterating the “other”, founded on misogyny and territorial occupation, while over-saturation with representations of violence has caused society to become numb to the suffering of “others”. We found that we were all affected by the collective trauma of the armed conflict and there was a need for everyone to speak and listen, not only through narrative, but also movement, song, embroidery, and drawing. Participatory performance can thus revindicate our capacity for radical care, offering a path to peace from below, following the lead of female victims/survivors/artivists. When audiences are engaged in embodying nonviolent, creative forms of coexisting, mourning and healing, a visceral sense of shared response-ability is cultivated. We learned this was best facilitated through singing, in combination with collective actions, such as weaving, while scenes of overwhelming sadness led the audience’s refusal (or inability) to participate.

Sarah Hart, Pontifica Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá)

Sarah Ashford Hart is an applied theatre practitioner/scholar from a Canadian-Venezuelan-American background. Her PhD dissertation in Performance Studies analyzes affective approaches to facilitating expression/witnessing within Latin American contexts of displacement, enclosure and violence. She is currently an adjunct instructor in the Department of Performing Arts at the Pontifical Javeriana University (Bogotá).

A Performance of “Justpeace”? Mapping the Emergence of Intimacy Direction in Canadian Theatre

This paper is an initial interrogation of how the emergence of the intimacy director into professional Canadian theatre is a disruption that may or may not foster justice within the process of theatre making. This paper maps out questions relating to how John Paul Lederach’s explanation of “Justpeace” as a liminal “process-structure… characterized by high justice and low violence” that views “systems as responsive to the permanency and interdependence of relationships and change” can inform how the intimacy director may function as an advocate for justice within the rehearsal hall (36). The configuration of creative roles (e.g., director, designer, choreographer, performer) in professional Canadian theatre is undergoing a radical re-think as the inclusion of intimacy directors have become common practice. The paper examines current language being used in the Canadian Theatre Agreement 2021-2024 Material Terms and the DOT Agreement as well as definitions of intimacy as outlined by leading advocates. In assembling the disciplines of peace and conflict studies and theatre studies, this inquiry, stemming from my on-going research, considers how the addition of this new role within the composition of professional theatre makers may function as a proxy for, or performance of, a shift within the larger society. 

Works Cited

Lederach, John Paul. “Justpeace The Challenge of the 21st Century”, People Building Peace 35 Inspiring Stories from Around the World, European Centre for Conflict Prevention, in Cooperation with the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Coexistence of the State of the World Forum, 1999, pp.27-36.

Heidi Malazdrewich, University of Winnipeg

Heidi Malazdrewich is a director, dramaturg, and educator. She holds an MFA in directing from the University of Calgary and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Manitoba. Heidi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

The Refrain: Getting in Sync with the World

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

Performer: Alexander Lazaridis Ferguson

Event Details and Description

Performer: Alexander Lazaridis Ferguson

Location: Zoom Room B

Online Session

This performance is an online listening and discussion around an excerpt from my theatre company’s podcast series, ‘The Refrain: Getting in Sync with the World.’ The series examines the philosophical and spiritual discourse and practices that inform the work of Fight With a Stick Performance, an award winning theatre/installation company. Our practice is one of collaboration with the other-than-human world around us. This manifests in our working methods and productions within an egalitarian collaborative creation process. We achieve this through a practice of deep mutual listening. The work of political scientist Jane Bennett, philosopher Kym Mclaren, anthropologist Eduardo Kohn, and various theatre artists and thinkers, have informed our practice. For an online performance/discussion I would lead the participants through a listening session of a portion of one of our podcast episodes, and through a structured “artful” response, in rounds, and then to an open discussion of the ideas that have informed the company’s work and the practical work itself.

Alexander Lazaridis Ferguson, Fight With A Stick Performance

I have been a theatre professional for several decades, working across performance related disciplines, and for the past 9 years have been Artistic Director of Fight With a Stick Performance. In addition to my work as an actor, writer, and director in theatre and theatre-installation art hybrids, I have undertaken applied theatre projects, including working with the Philippine Womens Association of BC, and teaching devising at the RealWheels Theatre Academy (for and by disabled artists). As an instructor, I have taught performance theory, theatre history, performance history, and devising at Capilano U, SFU, and currently at the School of Creative Arts, U of the Fraser Valley. I’ve developed and teach a devising method called “Scenographic Devising” at universities, professional theatre and dance artist workshops, and so on. I have won a number of awards for acting, directing, and innovation.

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Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

18:00 – 20:30 EDT

CATR Annual General Meeting

Location: CATR Zoom Room

 

Event Details and Description

Location: CATR Zoom Room

Online Session

All AGM Reports available here:

https://catracrt.ca/catr-2024-agm-suppmats

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Keywords

Sunday, June 16

14:00 – 17:00 EDT

CATR Special Board Meeting

In-Person Location: Teesri Duniya Theatre, Cité-des-Hospitalières building, 251 Pine Ave W

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

In- Person Location: Teesri Duniya Theatre, Cité-des-Hospitalières building, 251 Pine Ave W

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cit%C3%A9-des-Hospitali%C3%A8res/@45.512113,-73.5778369,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x1564ff48cdb1382c?sa=X&ved=1t:2428&ictx=111

In-Person Session

14:00 EDT Meet and Greet

14:30-17:00 EDT Special Board Meeting

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 2 hours

18:00 – 00:00 EDT

CATR Pub Night

Location: McKibbin’s Irish Pub

Bishop Street Location – 1426 Bishop St.

In-Person Event

Event Details and Description

Location: McKibbin’s Irish Pub 

Bishop Street Location – 1426 Bishop St.

https://www.mckibbinsirishpub.com

https://maps.app.goo.gl/dwhjKECaeoGbmhGXA

In-Person Event

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Monday, June 17

10:00 – 11:00 EDT

Meet & Greet before Welcoming Remarks

Location: Teesri Duniya Theatre

251 Pine Ave. W (Cité-des-Hospitalières)

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

Location: Teesri Duniya Theatre

251 Pine Ave. W. (Cité-des-Hospitalières)

https://maps.app.goo.gl/zTn7h8LTDtghPq6fA

In-Person Session

Schedule

10 am to 11am: Meet & Greet

11 am : CATR Opening Remarks

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Keywords

10:00 – 14:00 EDT

Publisher’s Kiosks – June 17

Location: Room B-236F – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

Event Details and Description

Location: Room B-236F – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

Book and Play publishers will have their materials for sale from 10am-2pm every day of the conference.

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Keywords

11:00 – 12:30 EDT

Welcoming Remarks & Opening Performance “My Urban Nature”

Location: Teesri Duniya Theatre

251 Pine Ave. W. (Cité-des-Hospitalières)

In-Person Session

Performer: Barbara Diabo

Sponsored by McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

 

Event Details and Description

Location: Teesri Duniya Theatre

251 Pine Ave. W. (Cité-des-Hospitalières)

https://maps.app.goo.gl/zTn7h8LTDtghPq6fA

In-Person Session

French Translation will be available here:

tinyurl.com/CATR2024

Sponsored by McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Schedule

10 am to 11am: Coffee

11 am : CATR Opening Remarks

11:30 am : Plenary Performance – Barbara Diabo’s My Urban Nature

Cette pièce plurielle, chorégraphiée par l’artiste mohawk Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo, mériterait certainement d’être présentée à nouveau. Le contenu y est dense. On y juxtapose différentes formes : danse traditionnelle mohawk, danse urbaine et danse contemporaine dans un pow-wow moderne et entraînant. Interrogeant le rapport des citadin·es à la nature, le propos peut sembler pessimiste : l’herbe est réduite à un rouleau de gazon synthétique, les ailes des oiseaux sont reproduites par des cerceaux de plastique. Les cubes dans lesquels sont contenus les interprètes expriment à la fois la densité urbaine et l’enfermement, voire la solitude vécue en ville.

Le spectacle se conclut toutefois sur une réflexion ouverte portant sur la célébration de la vie, sur la contribution de chacun·e à une élévation commune et sur l’instrumentalisation de la nature. La danse est ici une invitation à la fête, au rassemblement, et les idées qu’elle véhicule n’assombrissent en rien le caractèrecontagieux de cette performance haute en couleur. Un moment à la fois savoureux et solennel, tout à fait approprié à une représentation extérieure.

Chorégraphie : Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo. Interprétation : Daniela Carmona, Victoria May, Oliver Koomsatira, Sonik Boom, Sam Ojeda, Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo. Chant : Nina Segalowitz. Composition musicale : Cris Derksen, Craig Commanda, Nina Segalowitz, Urban Surf Kings.

12:00 : Indigenous Host Presentation to PAQ

12:30 – End of Session

Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo 

(Kanien’keha:ka Nation) 

Artistic Director and Choreographer of A’nó:wara Dance Theatre

 Originally from Kahnawake and now living in Montreal, Barbara is the choreographer and director of A’nó:wara Dance Theatre. She has been on her toes since the tender age of 4 when she started studying classical ballet. She landed her first professional dance role at age 17 and then went on to graduate with a BFA in theatre from Concordia University and from the Native Theatre School. She has studied in many forms of dance, including ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, powwow, etc. As a choreographer and dancer, she specializes in creating works that highlight Indigenous themes/stories/perspectives by often combining powwow, Haudenosaunee dance, and other contemporary styles to create a fusion of dance that speaks to many different populations and tastes. 

Her dance show, Sky Dancers, won Outstanding Touring Production in the Dora Mavor Awards 2022 and was also a recipient of the National Creation Fund. She was awarded the prestigious Prix de la Danse de Montreal category Interprete (dancer) in 2021. In 2019 her dance piece MY URBAN NATURE was awarded best choreography for outdoor show by Festival Quartiers Danses, in 2008 she was awarded the Mila Voynova Outstanding Instructor Award, she has been invited as an artist and a speaker nationally and internationally (Banff Centre [Canada], Enartes [Mexico], APAM [Australia], Kia Mau [New Zealand] CanDance [Ottawa], Aerowaves [Ireland], Waterproof/Oui [France], etc), and her first film for children was awarded one of the Top 10 Best Active Products of the Year (Dr.Toy). 

She regularly performs in theatres, festivals, films, schools, conferences, and other special events. Some of her most recent work was performed at the Montreal Olympic Stadium, the National Arts Centre, Fleck Theatre Harbourfront Centre, the Confederation Centre for the Arts PEI, the First People’s Festival in Montreal, Place-des-Arts, Prismatic Festival Halifax, Festival Quartiers Danses, and other places across Canada and the USA. She was one of the only 8 hoop dancers in North America invited to perform at Gathering of Nations (New Mexico), the world’s largest powwow, in their first-ever hoop dance competition 2015.

She often works with La Danse sur les Routes du Quebec as an Indigenous Project Development Officer. With them, she led the development of the project: The keys to understanding Indigenous dance for better audience development, for which they were awarded the Diversity and Inclusion Prize by Compétence Culture. She continues to teach dance, is Chair of the board of the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, and often is a consultant on Indigenous arts for various organizations.

Her goals are to inspire others, encourage cultural pride, uplift the spirit, and increase education and communication.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

12:45 – 14:15 EDT

Lunch on your Own

Location: You decide!

Event Details and Description

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

09:00 – 18:00

Quiet Room – June 17

Location: Room 4285 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 4285 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant (Building 27 on the UdM map)

Resources and Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Staging Climate Justice with Young People: Attending to Justice and Place through an Arts-Led Metho-Pedagogy

Location: Room B4250 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant (Building 27 on the UdM map) – Université de Montréal

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies – University of Toronto

Moderator: Christine Balt

Kathleen Gallagher and Christine Balt, “Towards a Theory of the Drama Classroom for Enlivening Climate Justice ‘In the Minor’ ”

Nancy Cardwell, “Reckoning with Historic and Ongoing Climate Injustices through Mobile, Site-Specific Performance in Toronto”

Celeste Kirsh, “Attending to Justice and Place through a Virtual, Sound-Based Metho-Pedagogy”

Munia Debleena Tripathi, “More-Than-Human Entanglements in Site-Specific Performance in Lucknow”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Christine Balt

Location: Room B4250 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant (Building 27 on the UdM map) – Université de Montréal

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies – University of Toronto

Rationale

This curated panel asks: What new understandings about the collective and personal politics of young people in the climate crisis can arise when we create art with them? In grappling with this provocation, the following panel engages four papers (12 minutes each) examining the creative and pedagogical work of the Global Youth (Digital) Citizen-Artists and their Publics: Performing for Socio-Ecological Justice research project: which we call ‘Audacious Citizenship’ for short. The primary objective of the project (taking place in Toronto, Canada; Lucknow, India; Bogota, Colombia; Coventry, England; Thessaloniki, Greece and Kaohsiung, Taiwan) is to explore how performance can become a site for new imaginaries for socio-ecological justice. What can the aesthetic and pedagogical affordances of a drama-based, or arts-led, methodology and pedagogy tell us about the burgeoning justice-oriented commitments of young people across the globe? Each paper in this panel will look to how performance can invite an array of explorations regarding ‘justice’ and ‘place’ for youth, leveraging ‘site-specific performance’ (in both physical and virtual locations) as a creative vehicle through which to attend to young peoples’ relationships to their local ecologies. Exploring the climate emergency in the lives of youth in ways that attune to, at once, the intimate and the grand, the historic and the everyday, the personal and the public, each paper sees site-specific performance as a methodology for formulating frameworks for justice in complex, emplaced, nuanced and culturally-specific ways.

Paper 1: Towards a Theory of the Drama Classroom for Enlivening Climate Justice ‘In the Minor’

Kathleen Gallagher and Christine Balt

This paper proposes a theory of the drama classroom as a space within which to enliven malleable and nuanced performances of climate justice. Rather than seeing ‘justice-oriented performance’ as something unidirectional and righteous, we argue that it is through the uniquely embodied and affective modes of learning and creating in the drama classroom that more implicit and ‘minor’ modes of climate justice performance can arise. First, we will look at how literature in the fields of applied theatre and drama education identifies criticality, imagination, and relationality as ‘principles’ for ‘turning towards the political’ in the drama classroom (Gallagher et al. 2012). Then, we consider more ambiguous forms of justice-oriented performance in those fields, leaning on Deleuze and Guattari’s (1985) theory of ‘the minor’ and Erin Manning’s (2016) notion of the ‘minor gesture’ as conceptual frames. Following this, an empirical illustration of ambiguity in justice-oriented performance in the Audacious Citizenship research project will take place, where we focus on ‘site-specific performance’ in physical and virtual spaces as ‘minor’ forms of climate justice performance. It is through a consideration of this empirical work that we attune to Leanne Simpson’s (2014) notion of emplaced theory (activated through land-based pedagogies) and Sara Ahmed’s (2014) concept of a ‘politics of wonder’ (Ahmed, 2014) as productive orientations in a ‘minor’ climate justice performance aesthetics, which moves beyond the binary of righteousness/apathy and instead assumes an indeterminacy that, the paper asserts, is a more agile and sustainable mode of engagement in an age of heightened socio-ecological injustice.

Paper 2: Attending to Justice and Place through a Virtual, Sound-Based Metho-Pedagogy

Celeste Kirsh

What can we learn about climate justice when virtual performance is deployed methodologically? This paper explores the research team’s methodological approach in a series of virtual ‘Global Drama Club’ workshops (taking place in Spring 2022), which included young people from all six international research sites. Driving this virtual engagement was a curiosity about how virtual space can itself function as a ‘site’ for climate justice-oriented, site-specific performance. In our metho-pedagogy, we invited the participants to share sound recordings from their local environments and grapple with the following provocation: how are our environments performing with and for us? Responding to the call from scholars in environmental communication (see Boykoff, 2019; Gabrys &Yusoff, 2012; Milkoreit, 2016) for more creative pathways toward environmental justice (Scheider-Mayerson et al, 2023), stories from our research data are shared in this paper that highlight how deep listening, generative cross-cultural dialogue, and reflective invitations transformed what could be possible (methodologically, pedagogically, aesthetically) in virtual site-specific performance. With this workshop, virtual, sensory ethnographic methods were deployed to not only stretch the functionality of the ‘sites’ of the digital platforms as they were originally intended but more importantly, to act as a kind of methodological ‘side-door’ (Gallagher, 2014) to better understand the relationship between people and place in the midst of the worsening injustices of the climate crisis. 

Paper 3: Reckoning with Historic and Ongoing Climate Injustices through Mobile, Site-Specific Performance in Toronto

Nancy Cardwell

This paper looks closely at the site-specific theatre-making work created by youth in a neighbourhood park in Toronto in Year 4 (Fall 2022) of the Audacious Citizenship project. Land, History, Presence: Performing a Land Acknowledgement for Now through Mobile Site-Specific Performance was a site-specific performance unit carried out with a Toronto high school drama class. Created by Dr. Gallagher and her team, along with Indigenous community activist Dr. Amanda Buffalo, this unit explored settler-colonial histories and the environmental crisis through a pedagogy of ‘moving through place’ (Bradby and Lavery, 2007). What, the researchers asked, could mobile site-specific performance – as “a doing, a practice, a performance, a way of witnessing” – afford in coming to reckon with the climate emergency as an event of ongoing social and historic injustices on Turtle Island? (p. 12). The focus of the pedagogy was to facilitate open discussions and ‘formulate justice frameworks’ that could acknowledge, reckon with, and bear the weight of historic and continued land-based violence perpetrated against people and place. Uncovering buried stories (through walking and writing as performance) became the theme of the unit and it resulted in a film created from students’ physical explorations of the park as well as their reflective writings over the course of two weeks. This paper traces that creative journey and looks closely at performance and performativity in site-specific theatre-making and its unique position at the intersection of the environment and the imagination.

Paper 4: More-Than-Human Entanglements in Site-Specific Performance in Lucknow

Munia Debleena Tripathi

This paper examines the Audacious Citizenship team’s 5-day in-person field-work with a group of twelve Grade 11 students from Prerna Girls’ and Prerna Boys’ Schools in Lucknow, India. It explores ways of approaching the issue of ecological justice through pedagogies of site-specific performance in a context where immediate socio-political issues often supersede environmental issues in the public imagination. Inspired by posthumanist and new materialist approaches to environmental education and storytelling (Rousell, et. al., 2017, Iovino, 2015 and others), and departing significantly from ‘individual sacrifice’-based and ‘solution-oriented’ narratives of the ecological crisis that the school curricula in India generally promote, the Audacious Citizenship team curated exercises that encouraged deep listening to non-human entities and awareness of their agency in the site of Lucknow’s Janeshwar Mishra Park. Through the act of crafting imagined narratives and finding ways to embody non-human characters, the researcher-facilitators and the participants came to newly appreciate how the human and non-human, the social and the environmental are inextricably linked. This paper will examine the creative work produced by the youth participants and their reflections on the workshop exercises to understand how a turn towards the ontologies of intra-species co-existence has the potential to positively restructure environmental education in the unique context of India.

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14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Disability Theatre and Performance

Location: Room 4265 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Fountain School of Performing Arts – Dalhousie University

Moderator: Heather Davis-Fisch

Jenn Boulay, “Disability Theatre in Canada: Working Together and Closing the Gaps in the East”

Kim Sawchuk, Menka Nagrani, Alexandre Prince, ” “Diversité capacitaire”, Disability Aesthetics and Pedagogical Practice: from  Inclusion to Expansion”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Heather Davis-Fisch

Location: Room 4265 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Fountain School of Performing Arts – Dalhousie University

Disability Theatre in Canada: Working Together and Closing the Gaps in the East

The paper that I am proposing was published in Canada Theatre Review’s special issue (Spring 2022) and is the foundational layer of my MA research. My paper, Disability Theatre in Canada: Working Together and Closing the Gaps in the East, serves to locate and map the terrain of the D/deaf and disability arts scene across Canada. While there is an abundance of scholarship, arts practices, and widely used accessibility practices in western provinces, little is known about the scene in Canada’s eastern provinces, leaving a clear gap. This work responds to the gap by examining the cultural differences in four of Canada’s cities/regions: Vancouver, BC; Toronto, ON; Montréal, QC; and the Atlantic provinces (NS, NB, PEI, NFLD). I argue that the accessibility, disability, and linguistic (anglophone v. francophone) cultural differences affect the way disabled artists create work and how diverse audiences (disabled and non-disabled) respond to their creative practices. Using ethnographic methods, I draw from my lived experiences working as a disabled artist-scholar in connection with the above-mentioned provinces. Interwoven with my experiences, I borrow from leading Canadian Disability theatre scholars, Dr. Kirsty Johnston, Dr. Ash McAskill, Dr. Kelsie Acton, and Québécoise disability studies scholar, Laurence Parent. While this paper locates and understands the gap by highlighting key cultural differences, a larger question and issue at stake that requires action arises: How do we create a bilingual network where disabled artists can create a cross-national D/deaf and disability arts community to share resources, knowledge, and practices, eliminating the gap?

Jenn Boulay, Concordia University

Jenn Boulay is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar. She is pursuing her MA at Concordia University in Communication Studies. Her current research interrogates D/deaf and Disability Arts in Montréal, Québec, and Atlantic Canada, to better understand the gaps between the eastern and western provinces. Her work has been published in CTR, TRIC, and Knots: An Undergraduate Journal of Disability Studies. 

“Diversité capacitaire”, Disability Aesthetics and Pedagogical Practice: from  Inclusion to Expansion

Within the past 10 years several inclusive dance and theatre companies that promote “diversité capacitaire” have emerged in Québec, such as Corpuscule Dance or Joe Jack et John.   These companies have developed innovative productions that confront the ways that able-ism is embedded in institutions and in social orders that are “intolerant of deviations” (Garland-Thompson, 1996). As Tobin Siebers reminds us, disability “participates in a system of knowledge that provides materials for and increases critical consciousness about the way that some bodies make other bodies feel.” (2013). While critical disability aesthetics promote these values, they have yet to permeate higher education. Universities promote the values of  “EDI” or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, yet entry into programs remains difficult for many. This paper discusses an experiment in the inclusion of neuroatypical performers into 2 courses in Concordia’s  Department of Theatre, given by professor Menka Nagrani, who brought artists from her company Les Productions des Pieds des Mains (DPDM), an integrated Theatre Company composed of performers with a range of intellectual differences, including autism and Down’s Syndrome. These  guest students were invited to participate in a university setting and to share their work experience with Concordia students: as such, they became the first in the province to be enrolled in classes for University credit. Focusing on Nagrani’s pedagogical style and specific techniques, we discuss how her challenging aesthetic vision was integrated into a pedagogical practice that benefited  all students. These principles and values were integrated into the course delivery and into the  co-creation of an original 1 hour theatre production, First Name Basis (2023). Based on interviews and participant observation, we discuss how this project was made possible and how it fostered welcoming conditions for the students.   As we argue, what is needed is for an expansion of the mandate of the University, of Theatre, and of our understanding of aesthetics from a position that promotes not only inclusion, but sets the conditions for “diversité capacitaire”.

Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University

Kim Sawchuk,  is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University, Concordia University Research Chair in Mobile Media Studies Director of the ACTLab and engAGE: centre for research on aging. Sawchuk is well-known for her writings on research-creation,  and her promotion of  Critical Disability Studies and Critical Age Studies.

Menka Nagrani

Menka Nagrani is an interdisciplinary artist, theatre director, and choreographer. She founded Les Productions des pieds des mains in 2004, an inclusive dance and theatre company. Her socially engaged dance and theatre productions and short films have been acclaimed worldwide. Menka Nagrani has received many awards for her work and was appointed to the Order of Canada, the Order of Montréal and L’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec.

Alexandre Prince, Concordia University

Alexandre Prince holds a BA in History from Université Laval and is currently working on his MA in Media Studies at Concordia University. He is a member of the ACT (Ageing + Communication + Technologies) Lab, where he conducts research on critical disability studies and inclusive pedagogies.

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14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Applied Theatre and Performance I

Location: Room 4270 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Barry Freeman

Monica Prendergast, “Youth<—->Mental Youth<—->Mental Health<—->Performance: A Cross-Case Analysis”

Chengyu Tan, “Exploring the Significance and Timeliness of Applied Theatre in Teacher Education in China”

Yizhou Zhang, “Alternative to Typecasting and Colorblind Casting: V-Type Casting and the Trouble of Realism”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Barry Freeman

Location: Room 4270 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Youth<—->Mental Youth<—->Mental Health<—->Performance: A Cross-Case Analysis

This paper offers a case study analysis across three sites; Saanich, BC, Port Coquitlam, BC and Mississauga, Ontario. The SSHRC-funded study invites drama students in secondary schools to explore Canadian Theatre for Young Audiences plays dealing with a range of mental health topics (anxiety and self-harm, sexual assault/cyberbullying, youth suicide, environmental anxiety) and then create an original theatre piece in response to these plays. The paper focuses on looking at the comparative distinctions across the three sites including; ethical considerations, participant challenges, aesthetics of play creation and related issues. Using the arts-based method of poetic inquiry, the research team explored fostering participant voices by selecting found poems from transcripts that illuminate better understanding of how young people face their own mental health challenges. Results show that participants in the project increased their knowledge of mental health issues and benefited from participating in the study. It is hoped that drama teachers across Canada may see the value of addressing youth mental health in similar ways, and a handbook on how the project was undertaken will be created and disseminated to specialist drama education groups at no charge as an open access publication.

Monica Prendergast, University of Victoria

Dr. Monica Prendergast, is Professor of Drama/Theatre Education, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Victoria. Research interests: drama-based curriculum and pedagogy, applied drama/theatre, and arts-based research. Monica’s books include Applied Theatre, Applied Drama (with Juliana Saxton), Teaching Spectatorship, Staging the Not-yet, Drama, Theatre and Performance Education in Canada, Teachers and Teaching on Stage and on Screen: Dramatic Depictions and Applied Theatre: Ethics.

Exploring the Significance and Timeliness of Applied Theatre in Teacher Education in China

In China, the school day spans from 8:00 to 17:00, and the primary social identity revolves around being a “student” until the age of 18. The education system, centered on scores, shapes individuals skilled at completing tasks but often deficient in self-actualization, leading to enduring mental crises. Despite widespread recognition of the deficiency in social-emotional learning, practical solutions elude Chinese educators and researchers.

While applied theatre is still a novel concept for many Chinese educators, I see significant potential in introducing applied theatre techniques as a powerful tool for fostering social-emotional abilities in China in the coming decade. This extends to broader settings where a similarly score-centered educational system prevails. I propose two key strategies: 1) raising educators’ awareness of social and emotional abilities development through their participation in applied theatre workshops, and 2) providing educators with pedagogies inspired by applied theatre techniques for seamless integration into their everyday teaching practices, avoiding the need to train new applied theatre facilitators from scratch.

This presentation draws on insights from my Ph.D. in performance (2017-2023), four years as an applied theatre practitioner (2019-2023), and a visiting research in an educational psychology lab (2023-2024). As an early Ph.D. graduate from China passionate about theatre and education, I’ve observed applied theatre workshops becoming predominantly limited to the middle and upper class over the past five years. I believe that increased participation by practitioners and educators in China will unlock the transformative potential of applied theatre, contributing to universal well-being in the next decades.

Chengyu Tan, Waseda University

Chengyu Tan, Ph.D. from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, is a practitioner-researcher into performance, queerness, education. Currently a Visiting Researcher at Waseda University, Japan, she focuses on innovative education and Asian epistemology. She has been invited to talk about applied theatre at schools across disciplines in Chinese universities.

Alternative to Typecasting and Colorblind Casting: V-Type Casting and the Trouble of Realism

In this presentation, I attempt to theorize and justify the dramaturgy of casting and performing the racial Other in my play “TTD” (Toronto, 2023), an adaptation of the German novel The Tin Drum combined with documentary stories about contemporary China. The production casted Asian (Canadian) actors as white European characters and white (Canadian) actors as Asian characters. I retrospectively call this strategy of casting v-type casting in a conscious attempt to distance from another practice of nontraditional casting—colorblind casting. V stands both for “versa” (“to turn around” in Latin) and Brechtian “v-effekt.” I contextualize the cast historically in the material conditions of its rehearsals and production in today’s Toronto, and theorize it through Bertolt Brecht’s verfrmdungseffekt. Looking at Brecht’s discussions on the performance of racialized body and his theatricalization of race in “Round Heads and Pointed Heads” (1936), I argue for the effectiveness of “masking” as a method to represent the Other without affirming the logic of mimetic realism, which relies on essentialism and the economy of identification. Bringing these theoretical discussions back to my production, I conclude the presentation with an evaluation of v-type casting’s radicality and limitation in a neoliberal representative democratic society.

Yizhou Zhang, University of Toronto

Yizhou Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Theatre, Drama, and Performance Studies. She is interested in the aesthetics and politics of embodiment and movement, especially when they intersect with modernism, capitalism, and globalization. As an artist, Yizhou likes to combine puppetry, documentary theatre, and literary adaptations to examine traces of oppression in everyday life. She has presented scholarly and creative works at the International Federation for Theatre Research, the International Brecht Festival, and the Symposium of the International Brecht Society. Her current research project explores forms of theatrical gestures in modernist art. 

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14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Canadian Reflections and Mappings

Location: Room 4275 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Drama – University of Saskatchewan

Moderator: Kim Solga

Sungwon Cho, “Enacting the Exotic: Internment Camps, Yellow Fever and the Flashpoint of Asian Canadian Theatre”

Moira Day, “Dramatic Reflections on the War in Ukraine from the Canadian Prairies”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Kim Solga

Location: Room 4275 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Drama – University of Saskatchewan

Enacting the Exotic: Internment Camps, Yellow Fever and the Flashpoint of Asian Canadian Theatre

In an interview published in Theatre Journal, playwright David Yee claims that the first work of Asian Canadian theatre was Rick Shiomi’s Yellow Fever (Yee E-24). Asian diasporas have been present in Canada as early as Chinese railroad workers in 1880. Shiomi’s own ancestors were active theatre makers in Vancouver as early as 1910 (Li 11n2).Why then, does Yee consider Yellow Fever the first work of Asian Canadian Theatre? What is the distinction between Asian Canadian Theatre and theatre by Asians in Canada? How do these distinctions privilege a particular performance of cultural resistance? This essay calls for a retroactive broadening of the Asian Canadian theatre corpus by highlighting the resistant potential and adaptability found in the displaced traditions of diaspora. Examining documented experiences of Japanese Canadians who lived in internment camps in New Denver, I engender the art-making practices of these detainees as a conflict between art, state and space which Ngugi wa Thiong’o refers to as “enactments of power”.

From this framework, I then investigate the 1983 production of Yellow Fever from ahistoriographical perspective, reading playbills, reviews and scholarship in the context of arising panethnic Asian Canadian movement and the state project of multiculturalism. Through cross examination of these two periods of theatre history, I highlight the event of Yellow Fever as an extension of the conflict undertaken by Asian diaspora of the earlier 20th century.

Works Cited

Yee, David. Interview by Sean Metzger. Theatre Journal, vol. 72, no. 3, September 2020, www.jhuptheatre.org/theatre-journal/online-content/issue/volume-72-number-3-september-2020/were-future-provocateurs. Accessed 15 October 2023.

Li, Xiaoping. “Performing Asian Canadian: The Theatrical Dimension of a Grassroots Activism.” Asian Canadian Theatre: New Essays on Canadian Theatre, vol 1, edited by Nina Lee Aquino and Ric Knowles, Playwrights Canada Press, 2011, pp.11-28.

Sungwon Cho, University of Toronto

Sungwon Cho is a Korean-Canadian theatre practitioner and scholar. They are currently enrolled at the Master’s program at University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Their research interests include Asian Canadian Theatre, site-specific performance and the applications of theatre technologies.

Dramatic Reflections on the War in Ukraine from the Canadian Prairies

In a recent article decrying the lack of Ukrainian plays being staged in major Canadian theatre centres in response to the 2022 invasion, Andrew Kushnir cites one notable exception to his complaint: Punctuate!Theatre’s largely Western Canadian 2023 tour of First Métis Man of Odesa [FMMO]. While Kushnir credits the Western Canadian theatre scene as being more progressive in this regard than at least some of the institutions in Central Canada, this paper argues that he does not go far enough in considering the extent to which Western theatre centres like Edmonton have generated other war plays centered on the conflict in Ukraine even prior to the 2022 invasion, and the extent which FMMO itself references and builds on them. 

This paper seeks to explore:(1) the larger currents of Ukrainian historical and cultural/lingual/artistic survivance in Alberta underlying playwright/performer Matthew MacKenzie’s playful quip that “the city that I’m from is [nick]named Edmonchuck”(6) (2) the texts and development history of the two other Edmonton-generated war plays Barvinok and Alina, indirectly referenced in FMMO and (3) the extent to which the interleaving texts and production histories of all three plays reflect a multi-textured examination of war lived, survived, and remembered that is both grounded specifically in local prairie community, and internationally in the experience of warfare in Ukraine not only between 2014 to 2022 and beyond, but even farther back to World War II.

Andrew Kushnir. “Why is Canadian Theatre So Russian Right Now?” Feb 24, 2023. Intermission

MacKenzie, Matthew and Mariya Khomutova. First Métis Man of Odesa. TS. 16 May, 2023. pp. 1- 46.

Moira Day, University of Saskatechewan

Moira Day is a professor emerita of Drama at the University of Saskatchewan. A former book editor and co-editor of Theatre Research in Canada / Recherches théâtrales au Canada she has published and lectured widely on Canadian theatre, with a particular focus on women and prairie theatre prior to 1960.

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14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Biopsychosocial Somatic Dance/Theatre Training 

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy

Concordia University

In-Person Session

Leader: Suzanne Liska

Event Details and Description

Leader: Suzanne Liska

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy

Concordia University

In-Person Session

Somatic communities are at a crossroad in their attempts to address the lack of equity, diversity and inclusion awareness among practitioners and participants. Social somatic dance scholars, also known as “politicized” (Fortin 2017) somatic scholars, are pushing practitioners and participants to contextualize their practices within Indigenous and Asian cultural and spiritual forms (Eddy 2016). Given my teaching, choreographic and performing experience, and my perspective as a diasporic mixed-Asian Canadian, I believe I have a relevant perspective to contribute to the conference on deepening justice-informed somatic dance/theatre training. Through an MFA in Dance Choreography, I’ve established a research praxis anchored in East Asian dance/theatre history and form, social somatics dance ethnography, practice-based-research, and cultural theory.

Dance scholars have identified the primary focus in the majority of somatic forms as kinesthetic (Buckwater 2010; Eddy 2011; Foster 2010; Martin 2007, 2013; Novack 1990) and that other factors such as emotion, cognition and socioculture are secondary. I propose that East Asian practices and theories have the potential to dissolve binary oppositions of the body, mind, emotions, and socioculture.

My proposed workshop intertwines theories and practices of the Alexander Technique, Butoh and Contact Improvisation in order to foster an embodied biopsychosocial methodology and pedagogy. The material will activate sensation, imagination, and memory, using images from nature where scenes/characters may emerge, to expand how we respond biopsychosocially to interactions with others.

Suzanne Liska, York University

Suzanne Liska (Dance MFA, Certified Alexander Technique Teacher) specializes in choreography, performance-as-research, somatics, dance kinesiology, East Asian dance/theatre and contact/ensemble improvisation. Suzanne has received grants and awards through CCA, TAC, OAC, York University and SSHRC; and is contract faculty for York University’s Dance department and George Brown College’s Theatre School.  

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14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Horizontal processes in scenography – Processus horizontaux en scénographie

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy

Concordia University

In-Person Session

Leader: Cassandre Chatonnier

Event Details and Description

Leader: Cassandre Chatonnier

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy

Concordia University

In-Person Session

Theatrical design is often taught with a traditional, hierarchical approach. In such a process, the scenographic creation of a theatrical production consists of thinking and designing the design elements even before the actors begin rehearsals, or in parallel with them, and according to the director’s unique vision. This model generally leaves less room for co-creation or exploration by the students. The other gap that affects theater education is the lack of participation of different voices of diversity, whether those of LGBTQIA+ people, people from culturally diverse backgrounds, or aboriginal people.

We believe that a greater diversity of approaches would be beneficial to the student’s educational journey, both in terms of personal engagement and preparation for the workplace. Last school year, Cassandre was fortunate enough to obtain funding for teacher mobility for the “horizontal processes in scenography” pedagogical project. She went to the Quadriennale in Prague to learn about other processes in scenographic creation, more participative towards all team members and more inclusive towards diversity. In this workshop, she will propose different practices for creating and teaching scenography in a more collaborative way, thanks to various exercises drawn from her own practice as well as her experiences at the Quadriennale, including ecoscenography, feminist scenography and queer scenography.

Participants may be scenographers, scenography teachers, directors, researchers or actors interested in the practice of scenography. No prior preparation is required. 

Cassandre Chattonier

A graduate of the Ecole Boulle in “space design” (Paris), Cassandre Chatonnier moved to Quebec in 2008, where she was able to specialize in theatrical set design thanks to a Bachelor’s degree in “Design For The Theatre” from Concordia University. Since graduating, she has worked as a set designer, researcher and teacher. With a background in interior design, Cassandre’s work is heavily influenced by architecture. She is also interested in the actor’s relationship with space, and the different ways in which this can feed into her design practice. She holds a Master’s degree in theater from UQAM on this subject, graduating with honors. She now holds a doctorate in Urban Studies from INRS. Her thesis explores the relationship between indigenous performance and the appropriation of space, and the co-creation of a methodology for rethinking urban public spaces through dance.

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Break – 15 minutes

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

CATR Website Charrette

Location: Room B4250 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Leader: Taylor Marie Graham

Event Details and Description

Leader: Taylor Marie Graham

Location: Room B4250 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

CATR Website Charette

In-Person (June 17-20) & the charette will require one online meeting prior to the conference.

Help the CATR Communications Committee reimagine the CATR website! Prompted by a need for a new CATR website and an influx of new members, the CATR Communications Committee is conducting a website charette. Charettes are working sessions often conducted by architects to reimagine the possibilities of new spaces and explore ideas in collaboration with others. Using this model, the committee will bring groups of interested parties together to explore, analyze, and reimagine the digital space of the CATR website. We would like to know: What would you like our website to be? How could it be more useful to you? How could the website better function in the current theatre academic and artistic environment in Canada? What problems could it help address? What accessibility measures should be implemented? How can grad students, precarious scholars, and other members of CATR benefit from the redesign of the website? 

Aidez le Comité de communication de l’ACRT à réimaginer le site web de la ACRT ! Suite au besoin d’un nouveau site web et à l’arrivée de nouveaux membres, le Comité de communication du CATR organise une charette sur le site web. Les charettes sont des sessions de travail souvent menées par des architectes pour réimaginer les possibilités de nouveaux espaces et explorer des idées en collaboration avec d’autres. En utilisant ce modèle, le comité réunira des groupes de parties intéressées pour explorer, analyser et réimaginer l’espace numérique du site web de la ACRT. Nous aimerions savoir : Que souhaiteriez-vous que soit notre site web ? Comment pourrait-il vous être plus utile ? Comment le site pourrait-il mieux fonctionner dans l’environnement académique et artistique actuel du théâtre au Canada ? Quels sont les problèmes qu’il pourrait contribuer à résoudre ? Quelles mesures d’accessibilité devraient être mises en œuvre ? Comment les étudiants diplômés, les chercheurs précaires et les autres membres de l’ACRT peuvent-ils bénéficier de la refonte du site Web ? 

We invite all inquiries and are especially interested in hearing from grad students, precarious scholars, theatre artists, accessibility experts, and BIPOC scholars. 

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16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Close Reads

Location: Room 4265 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – Concordia University

Moderator: Kimberly McLeod

Emer O’Toole, “She-wolf: An Irish Ghost Story”

Jennifer Schacker, “Enslavement, Tyranny, and War in Drury Lane’s 1804 Cinderella Pantomime”

Edwin Wong, “Magic, Art, and Supernatural Probability Distributions in Comedy and Tragedy: More Lysistratas and Less Lears”

Kailin Wright, “Performing Reproductive Justice, Race, and Radical Motherhood in the Television Adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Kimberly McLeod

Location: Room 4265 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – Concordia University

She-wolf: An Irish Ghost Story

If you are seeing ghosts, eat a dish of wolf meat. And if the haunting takes to your dreams, sleep with a wolf’s head beneath your own. But what if there’s no meat, no fanged heads to sever? What if the wolves are gone? Ireland’s wolves were systematically exterminated by decree of the puritan Cromwellian government from the mid-seventeenth century. By 1800, they were extinct. They serve as an easily read metaphor for the brutal colonization of Gaelic Ireland during the same period. British playwright Helen Edmundson’s The Clearing (1993), recently directed by Jessica Carmichael at the 2023 Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, explores the nightmare of Ireland’s bloody seventeenth century through the device of an illegal mixed marriage and an archetypical “wild Irish girl.” Wolfwalkers (2020), the final instalment in the Irish folklore trilogy of acclaimed animation studio Cartoon Saloon, follows Robin Goodfellow, daughter of a professional English wolfhunter come to Ireland to make bounty. While her father is out killing, Robin is lonely in her new Irish town, until she makes a strange friend in the forest, Mebh Óg MacTíre, half-girl, half-wolf. This paper takes a storytelling approach to the intersection of the lupine and the feminine; it casts around for wolf-meat, trying to hush the voices of the colonized, of the women, of the wild creatures, who wish that history had been different, who will not stop whispering “what if?”

Emer O’Toole, Concordia

Dr. Emer O’Toole is Associate Professor of Irish Performance Studies at the School of Irish Studies, Concordia University. She is author of the books Contemporary Irish Theatre and Social Change (Routledge: 2023) and Girls Will Be Girls (Orion: 2015) and co-editor of the collection Ethical Exchanges in Translation, Adaptation and Dramaturgy (Rodopi: 2017).

Enslavement, Tyranny, and War in Drury Lane’s 1804 Cinderella Pantomime

This paper will address unexpected forms of conflict and injustice that underpin the earliest British stage version of the tale known as “Cinderella.” The “grand allegorical pantomimic spectacle” of Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper was an afterpiece at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and took fascinating liberties with the plot structure and characters in Charles Perrault’s “Cendrillon” (1697). A combination of dumb show, dance narrative, recitative, and song, it was one part of a lengthy evening of entertainment that would seem to offer welcome diversion from the volatile political climate of 1803-04—while referencing current events in subtle but powerful ways. 

Britons had enjoyed a brief respite from war before conflicts with Napoleon had been reignited in May 1803. Days earlier, Horatio Nelson had been given command in the Mediterranean and fortification of England’s southern coastline was underway in response to threats of invasion. Nelson was England’s greatest naval hero but also known for his personal affairs, having left his wife Fanny to live with Lady Emma Hamilton—whose story of social elevation rivalled Cinderella’s. The pantomime’s debut also occurred two days after Haiti (formerly Saint Domingue) declared independence from France, the culmination of a successful uprising against the proposed reintroduction of slavery. 

I will explore information from the pantomime’s script/s, ephemera, and reviews to discuss the ways that these specific figures and political events reverberate in Cinderella. Easy to overlook, a preoccupation with various forms of tyranny emerges with particular force as we trace intertheatrical and intertextual linkages.

Jennifer Schacker, University of Guelph

Jennifer Schacker is Professor in the School of English & Theatre Studies, University of Guelph. She has published widely on the history of fairy tales in print and performance, including Staging Fairyland: Folklore, Children’s Entertainment, and Nineteenth-Century Pantomime (2018) and the Routledge Pantomime Reader, 1800-1900 (2021, with Daniel O’Quinn).

Magic, Art, and Supernatural Probability Distributions in Comedy and Tragedy: More Lysistratas and Less Lears

Art is magic. Whether painting, sculpture, music, dance, poetry, or drama, ethologists such as Ellen Dissanayake argue that art depicts a supernatural metareality, a what-if reality beyond nature. Few today, however, associate art with the supernatural. Perhaps, with a different point of view, the magic is still there. Consider whether drama is a kind of magic that, by depicting chance, tames chance. Because luck is either good or bad, two forms of drama arose: comedy to explore good luck and the sunny side of chance and tragedy to explore bad luck and the dark side of chance. By dramatizing the chiaroscuro of chance, drama tames chance because whoever controls the depiction controls the object of depiction.

Edwin Wong

Edwin Wong has been dubbed “an Aristotle for the 21st century” (David Konstan, NYU) and “independent and provocative” (Robert C. Evans, AUM) for exploring the intersection between risk and theatre. He has published two books (The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy / When Life Gives You Risk, Make Risk Theatre) and over a dozen articles and book chapters on this topic. In 2022, he was one of three international academics to receive the Ben Jonson Discoveries Award for his work on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In 2018, he founded the Risk Theatre Modern Tragedy Playwriting Competition, the world’s largest competition for the writing of tragedy (risktheatre.com). Wong has talked at venues from the Kennedy Center and the University of Coimbra to conferences hosted by the National New Play Network, Canadian Association of Theatre Research, Society of Classical Studies, and Classical Association of the Middle West and South. He was educated at Brown University and is on Academia at https://brown.academia.edu/EdwinWong

Performing Reproductive Justice, Race, and Radical Motherhood in the Television Adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale

A group of women dressed in red robes with white bonnets descend on Capitol Hill to defend abortion rights. This may seem like a scene from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) or its television adaptation (2017), but it is only one of many real-world protests that have mobilized the handmaid costume from Atwood’s stories. White women have been quick to embrace the visual power of Atwood’s narrative to fight for access to abortion, but this vision of justice is incomplete and highly racialized. Reproductive justice extends a white feminist focus on abortion to fight for three basic rights: the rights to have, not have, and parent a child in a safe and healthy environment (Ross and Solinger 2017). Set in the future, The Handmaid’s Tale imagines the United States as a theocracy that enslaves women and forces them to reproduce, but it gives short shrift to the racism that would surely underpin this world. Just as The Handmaid’s Tale novel has been critiqued for appropriating a slave narrative, the television adaptation has come under scrutiny for its race-blind casting. The novel, the TV show, and the political protests all ignore racialized reproductive rights and experiences by presenting white women’s concerns as universal. 

Kailin Wright, St. Francis Xavier University

Kailin Wright is an Associate Professor, Jules Léger Research Chair, and award-winning teacher at St. Francis Xavier University (StFX). She is the author of Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2020) as well as the critical edition of Carroll Aikins’s The God of Gods: A Canadian Play and articles in Theatre Journal, Canadian Literature, Theatre Research in Canada, Canadian Theatre Review, and Studies in Canadian Literature. Kailin is also Associate Editor of Canadian Theatre Review and Fiction Editor at The Antigonish Review.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Theatre and Performance During and After COVID-19

Location: Room 4270 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Marlis Schweitzer

 

Jordana Cox, “Risk, redress, and redistribution in Living Newspaper: A Counter Narrative”

Meghan Lindsay & Kelsey Jacobson, “Lessons to Learn from COVID-19: Looking for Resiliency, Sustainability, and Equity for Theatre Workers and Organizations”

Daniel McGuire, “The New Normal: An examination of funders expectations for applied theatre during COVID-19 shutdowns in Ontario, Canada”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Marlis Schweitzer

Location: Room 4270 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Risk, redress, and redistribution in Living Newspaper: A Counter Narrative

This paper explores a theatrical experiment that cultivated novel approaches to creative risk and social redress. In the spring of 2020, as Covid-19 spread throughout the UK, London’s Royal Court Theatre shut its doors to the public. The following winter, amid a nation-wide lockdown, the Royal Court launched an alternative to its planned programming. Drawing inspiration from the US Federal Theatre Project (FTP) and its signature “Living Newspapers,” Artistic Director Vicki Featherstone led a seven-part, hybrid series of new works titled Living Newspaper: A Counter Narrative. Conceived, like its Depression-era precedents, to mitigate unemployment, Living Newspaper employed over 300 freelancers and the full complement of Royal Court staff. And like their precursors at the FTP, the company would foreground matters of justice, including public health, labor, racism, and colonialism.

Justice was not only a theme onstage; it was also catalyst for institutional change. As the Living Newspaper company navigated shifting conditions and regulations, it reconfigured the relationship between theatre-makers, audiences, and funders. Playwrights from Palestine, Ukraine, and India collaborated online via Zoom; ushers performed as audience members for recorded “captures” of editions; funds were raised in advance rather than at the box office, freeing artists to focus on their mission rather than commercial success. 

This paper engages Bonnie Honig’s feminist theory of “emergency politics” (2009) to interpret a variety of evidence, including original interviews. Engaging Bonnie Honig’s feminist theory of “emergency politics,” I consider Living Newspaper as both an historical artifact and a manifesto for equitable practices of theatrical labor.

Jordana Cox, University of Waterloo

Jordana Cox is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo. Her first book, Staged News: The Federal Theatre Project’s Living Newspapers, co-launched the University of Massachusetts Press’ “Journalism and Democracy” series in winter 2023. She also serves as Curator for TheatreAgora, the online meeting place for the Canadian Association for Theatre Research and the Société québecoise d’études théatrales.

Lessons to Learn from COVID-19: Looking for Resiliency, Sustainability, and Equity for Theatre Workers and Organizations

This paper examines preliminary results from the Pandemic Preparedness in the Live Performing Arts: Lessons to Learn from COVID-19 grant, funded by the British Academy, which aims to explore how governmental, charity, and informal support for organizations and arts workers in the performing arts across the G7 countries (UK, US, Germany, Canada, Japan, France, Italy) impacted the workforce, the type of outputs produced, and the resilience of the industry. 

With a specific focus on recommendations related to the workforce in Canada, we describe how the COVID-19 pandemic underscored issues of precarious employment among independent artists and freelance workers (CACCES 2021) with one in four arts workers losing their jobs in 2020 (Julien 2021; I Lost My Gig 2020). For those working in the arts in the pandemic, three times as many individuals and organizations reported very high or high levels of stress and anxiety today (76% and 79%, respectively) as compared to before COVID-19 (26% and 25%) and pervasive burnout was reported across the sector (Murphy 2023; Saskatchewan Arts Alliance 2020; Borodenko 2021). Based on a literature review of information related to policy context, industry structures, and funding models alongside consultative stakeholder meetings with federal, provincial, and municipal government officials, unions, arts service organizations, funders, and grassroots, we suggest preliminary policy recommendations for industry professionals and support structures to move from the reactive mode they adopted during the lockdown years to a proactive mode that anticipates future shocks and renders the industry more resilient (WIPO recommendation, 2022). 

Julien, Frédéric. “2020: The Year One in Four Arts Worker Lost Their Job.” Canadian Association for the Performing Arts, January 15, 2021

The Canadian Artists and Content Creators Economic Survey (CACCES), 2021. 

I Lost My Gig, COVID-19 Impact Survey Preview, https://ilostmygig.ca/2020/04/07/covid-19-impact-survey-preview/

Aisling Murphy, “Backstage burnout in Toronto Theatre was always a thing – post-pandemic it’s gotten worse,” Toronto Star, March 25, 2023, https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/stage/2023/03/25/backstage-burnout-in-toronto-theatre-was-always-a-thing-post-pandemic-its-gotten-worse.html. 

Saskatchewan Arts Alliance. (2020), COVID-19 Impact Survey: Artists and Cultural Workers.  

Borodenko, N. (2021), National Arts and Culture Impact Survey. Prairie Research Associates. https://oc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/NACIS_Organizations_EN.pdf

Meghan Lindsay, Queen’s University

Meghan Lindsay is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University and a Sessional Instructor at Carleton University.

Kelsey Jacobson, Queen’s University

Kelsey Jacobson is an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University.

The New Normal: An examination of funders expectations for applied theatre during COVID-19 shutdowns in Ontario, Canada

The financial and organizational activities of applied theatre organizations can be sites of potentiality (Mullen 20). This session will examine how funders expectations of applied theatre practices changed during COVID-19 shutdowns in Ontario, Canada. The analysis will be accomplished by considering relevant literature alongside qualitative case studies. The case studies are from a focus group and several one-on-one interviews with nine applied theatre practitioners in Ontario, Canada conducted during the Summer of 2021. This was shortly after theatre and school activities had been shut down by the provincial government when funders and practitioners were considering what had happened during the shutdowns, and what was next. This research is vital to share now, as practitioners and funders are returning to their regular activities post-COVID lockdowns. 

Since at least the 1980s, how arts funding has affected applied theatre has been top of mind for practitioners (Hope 159), and the topic has been explored within the literature. Indeed, it is established that in Ontario, governments can influence the arts through arts funding (D’Andrea 255). Still, there is a lack of published data on the changes which occurred during COVID-19, which can expose new potentialities in practice. Leniency among funders allowed practitioners to experiment with new ways of working, such as 4-day work weeks. Despite this, funders were selective with their leniency. Ultimately, this session argues that an examination into how funders expectations changed during COVID-19 shutdowns grants new insights into their intent and the power they hope to exert over applied theatre practices. 

Works Cited

D’Andrea, Marisol J. “Symbolic Power: Impact of Government Priorities for Arts Funding in Canada.” The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, vol. 47, no. 4, 2017, pp. 245–58, https://doi.org/10.1080/10632921.2017.1340209. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.

Hope, Sophie. “We Thought We Were Going to Change the World!.” The Failures of Public Art and Participation, edited by Cameron Cartiere and Anthony Schrag, Routledge: London and New York, 2023, pp. 156-175, https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003161356-12. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023

Mullen, Molly. “The ‘diverse Economies’ of Applied Theatre.” Applied Theatre Research, vol. 5, no. 1, 2017, pp. 7–22, https://doi.org/10.1386/atr.5.1.7_1. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.

Daniel McGuire, University of Toronto

Daniel McGuire is a PhD student from the University of Toronto with the CDTPS. His research interests focus on the complex, multi-directional relationship between cultural policy, arts funding, and applied theatre practices. Daniel also holds an MA in Arts, Festival, and Cultural Management from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

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16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Policy, Theatre and Performance

Location: Room 4275 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media – University of Manitoba

Moderator: Barry Freeman

Katrina Dunn, “Housing Justice and the Contemporary Urban Playhouse”

Steven Greenwood, “Unjuried, Uncensored, Uncurated: Rethinking the Fringe Festival Mandate in the 21st Century”

Megan Johnson, “Performing (In)Justice in Cultural Policy”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Barry Freeman

Location: Room 4275 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media – University of Manitoba

Housing Justice and the Contemporary Urban Playhouse

Juliet Rufford has noted that both theatre and architecture are “practices based on a central image of the house” (55). She cites Marvin Carlson’s etymological explanation of the origins of the theatrical “house” as a contraction of the early modern “playhouse” (Carlson, “H”). The contemporary housing justice movement is based on the idea that housing is a human right and shouldn’t be narrowly defined as a commodity. However, urban playhouses are subject to the same economic and real estate forces that are increasingly making affordable housing an unreachable goal in many Canadian cities. Discussing the idea of “home” as a foundational trope of modern drama, Kim Solga and Joanne Tompkins suggest that “the more precious home becomes to us at the theatre, the further it recedes from our everyday grasp” (77). This paper explores the connections between housing justice and the contemporary urban playhouse through a case study in Vancouver’s downtown. Westbank’s Vancouver House condominium tower, designed by starchitect Bjarke Ingels to resemble a theatre curtain, is startlingly ghosted by the collapse of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company in 2012. I show how Vancouver House correctly identifies the development of Vancouver’s downtown as a theatrical spectacle that performatively impacts the citizens and is invested in framing and generating affect. The building effectively shifts the site of performance from the interior of performing arts venues to the city as a whole, the roles of author and director are usurped by developer and architect, and both performers and spectators are played by a tacit citizenry cast in a participatory happening not of their own explicit choosing.  

Works Cited

Carlson, Marvin. “H is for House.” Contemporary Theatre Review, vol. 23.2, 2013, pp. 29-31.

Rufford, Juliet. Theatre & Architecture. Red Globe Press, 2015.

Solga, Kim and Joanne Tomkins. “The Environment of Theatre.” A Cultural History of Theatre in the Modern Age, Edited by Kim Solga, Methuen Drama, 2019.

Katrina Dunn, University of Manitoba

Katrina Dunn is an Associate Professor in the University of Manitoba’s Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media where she teaches in the Theatre Program. Her scholarly work explores the spatial manifestations of theatre as well as ecocritical theatre. In 2022, she was awarded the Richard Plant Award for the best long form English-language article on a Canadian theatre or performance topic by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research. She is currently adapting her dissertation, “Empty House: Real Estate and Theatricality in Vancouver’s Downtown”, into a monograph for UBC Press. Katrina’s long career as a stage director and producer has had considerable impact on the performing arts in western Canada and has been recognized with numerous awards.

Unjuried, Uncensored, Uncurated: Rethinking the Fringe Festival Mandate in the 21st Century

One of the central principles of nearly every Fringe festival is that the content is non-curated. Whether participation is decided by a random lottery, or if the festival simply allows everyone to participate, this spirit of non-censorship and openness is central to Fringe. While this creates an opportunity for radical and innovative performance works, it also comes with practical issues concerning the safety and accessibility of the festival for artists. For example, while a lack of censorship may allow artists to take more risks, this lack of censorship may also lead to things like hate speech or the platforming of artists who are known for creating hostile or abusive environments. These issues can then prevent others from participating safely. Is the festival truly “open” if the acceptance of some means that others can’t participate?

As an artist, volunteer, and staff member for the Montreal Fringe Festival, I have seen this discussion emerge almost every year. Community discussion spaces such as the Fringe Artists’ Hive Facebook group have been the sites of discourse surrounding the festival’s responsibility for keeping artists safe, even when that might conflict with their responsibility to keep the festival uncensored. Looking at incidents from the 2023 Montreal Fringe Festival and the context of the larger role of Fringe festivals in contemporary theatre, this paper hopes to spur discussion about how Fringe can maintain its independent and open spirit while still taking seriously the concerns of participants who have felt unsafe within the environment that this can create.

Steven Greenwood, Concordia University

Steven Greenwood is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Concordia University and an Adjunct Lecturer at McGill University. He is also the Artistic Director and co-founder of Home Theatre Productions, and is actively working as a playwright and director in Montreal. 

Performing (In)Justice in Cultural Policy 

One significant “P” word that is absent from the theme “Staging Justice: People, Places, Planet, and Practice” is Policy. Moves towards justice within cultural work and the creative industries—including in theatre and performance—are heavily impacted by cultural policies and the ways they allocate and distribute resources across the sector. In addition, policy frameworks are themselves informed by ideas of how cultural work is contributing to a more just world. For example, participatory art and social performance are often understood as cultural forms that can highlight injustice or articulate desires for justice, and this perspective can influence how support for these cultural forms is articulated in policy.  

As art and culture is increasingly instrumentalized within neoliberal capitalism, there is a need to understand how cultural policies are positioning the relationship between art and justice, and how this positioning is materialized into specific cultural programming and support within the sector. In this presentation, I focus on federal and sub-national cultural policies to specifically investigate the ways that art, performance, and cultural work is tasked with addressing social and economic injustices. Situating cultural policy as its own discursive performance—a performance that is highly contextual and has specific material impacts—I query how the rhetoric and effects of these discursive performances reveal ideas of cultural value that can, paradoxically, prevent movement towards true “creative justice” (Banks 2017). To counter this, I offer possibilities for more justice-centered cultural policy frameworks.

Megan Johnson, University of Guelph

Dr. Megan A. Johnson (she/her) is a performance scholar, singer, arts administrator, and dramaturg. Currently a Mitacs postdoctoral fellow at The Re•Vision Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph, Megan’s research centers on disability art and culture, critical access studies, infrastructural politics, public and cultural policy, and environmental studies. Megan’s writing has been published in Performance Matters, Theatre Research in Canada, Performance Research, Canadian Theatre Review, Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, and PUBLIC. 

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14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Applied Theatre and Performance I

Location: Room 4270 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Barry Freeman

Monica Prendergast, “Youth<—->Mental Youth<—->Mental Health<—->Performance: A Cross-Case Analysis”

Chengyu Tan, “Exploring the Significance and Timeliness of Applied Theatre in Teacher Education in China”

Yizhou Zhang, “Alternative to Typecasting and Colorblind Casting: V-Type Casting and the Trouble of Realism”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Barry Freeman

Location: Room 4270 – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

In-Person Session

Youth<—->Mental Youth<—->Mental Health<—->Performance: A Cross-Case Analysis

This paper offers a case study analysis across three sites; Saanich, BC, Port Coquitlam, BC and Mississauga, Ontario. The SSHRC-funded study invites drama students in secondary schools to explore Canadian Theatre for Young Audiences plays dealing with a range of mental health topics (anxiety and self-harm, sexual assault/cyberbullying, youth suicide, environmental anxiety) and then create an original theatre piece in response to these plays. The paper focuses on looking at the comparative distinctions across the three sites including; ethical considerations, participant challenges, aesthetics of play creation and related issues. Using the arts-based method of poetic inquiry, the research team explored fostering participant voices by selecting found poems from transcripts that illuminate better understanding of how young people face their own mental health challenges. Results show that participants in the project increased their knowledge of mental health issues and benefited from participating in the study. It is hoped that drama teachers across Canada may see the value of addressing youth mental health in similar ways, and a handbook on how the project was undertaken will be created and disseminated to specialist drama education groups at no charge as an open access publication.

Monica Prendergast, University of Victoria

Dr. Monica Prendergast, is Professor of Drama/Theatre Education, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Victoria. Research interests: drama-based curriculum and pedagogy, applied drama/theatre, and arts-based research. Monica’s books include Applied Theatre, Applied Drama (with Juliana Saxton), Teaching Spectatorship, Staging the Not-yet, Drama, Theatre and Performance Education in Canada, Teachers and Teaching on Stage and on Screen: Dramatic Depictions and Applied Theatre: Ethics.

Exploring the Significance and Timeliness of Applied Theatre in Teacher Education in China

In China, the school day spans from 8:00 to 17:00, and the primary social identity revolves around being a “student” until the age of 18. The education system, centered on scores, shapes individuals skilled at completing tasks but often deficient in self-actualization, leading to enduring mental crises. Despite widespread recognition of the deficiency in social-emotional learning, practical solutions elude Chinese educators and researchers.

While applied theatre is still a novel concept for many Chinese educators, I see significant potential in introducing applied theatre techniques as a powerful tool for fostering social-emotional abilities in China in the coming decade. This extends to broader settings where a similarly score-centered educational system prevails. I propose two key strategies: 1) raising educators’ awareness of social and emotional abilities development through their participation in applied theatre workshops, and 2) providing educators with pedagogies inspired by applied theatre techniques for seamless integration into their everyday teaching practices, avoiding the need to train new applied theatre facilitators from scratch.

This presentation draws on insights from my Ph.D. in performance (2017-2023), four years as an applied theatre practitioner (2019-2023), and a visiting research in an educational psychology lab (2023-2024). As an early Ph.D. graduate from China passionate about theatre and education, I’ve observed applied theatre workshops becoming predominantly limited to the middle and upper class over the past five years. I believe that increased participation by practitioners and educators in China will unlock the transformative potential of applied theatre, contributing to universal well-being in the next decades.

Chengyu Tan, Waseda University

Chengyu Tan, Ph.D. from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, is a practitioner-researcher into performance, queerness, education. Currently a Visiting Researcher at Waseda University, Japan, she focuses on innovative education and Asian epistemology. She has been invited to talk about applied theatre at schools across disciplines in Chinese universities.

Alternative to Typecasting and Colorblind Casting: V-Type Casting and the Trouble of Realism

In this presentation, I attempt to theorize and justify the dramaturgy of casting and performing the racial Other in my play “TTD” (Toronto, 2023), an adaptation of the German novel The Tin Drum combined with documentary stories about contemporary China. The production casted Asian (Canadian) actors as white European characters and white (Canadian) actors as Asian characters. I retrospectively call this strategy of casting v-type casting in a conscious attempt to distance from another practice of nontraditional casting—colorblind casting. V stands both for “versa” (“to turn around” in Latin) and Brechtian “v-effekt.” I contextualize the cast historically in the material conditions of its rehearsals and production in today’s Toronto, and theorize it through Bertolt Brecht’s verfrmdungseffekt. Looking at Brecht’s discussions on the performance of racialized body and his theatricalization of race in “Round Heads and Pointed Heads” (1936), I argue for the effectiveness of “masking” as a method to represent the Other without affirming the logic of mimetic realism, which relies on essentialism and the economy of identification. Bringing these theoretical discussions back to my production, I conclude the presentation with an evaluation of v-type casting’s radicality and limitation in a neoliberal representative democratic society.

Yizhou Zhang, University of Toronto

Yizhou Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Theatre, Drama, and Performance Studies. She is interested in the aesthetics and politics of embodiment and movement, especially when they intersect with modernism, capitalism, and globalization. As an artist, Yizhou likes to combine puppetry, documentary theatre, and literary adaptations to examine traces of oppression in everyday life. She has presented scholarly and creative works at the International Federation for Theatre Research, the International Brecht Festival, and the Symposium of the International Brecht Society. Her current research project explores forms of theatrical gestures in modernist art. 

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16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Hearing Unheard Moments: Interdisciplinary Work with Forum Theatre and Youth Engagement

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy

Concordia University

In-Person

Leader: Rebecca Harries & Heather Lawford

Event Details and Description

Leader: Rebecca Harries & Heather Lawford

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy

Concordia University

In-Person

This praxis session is both an introduction to and a conversation about the techniques, challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary collaboration. The praxis session will introduce the work of an ongoing project, Hearing Unheard Moments through practice of similar exercises and discussion with the participants.

Hearing Unheard Moments, organized through the Students Commission of Canada, aims to develop creative products to promote anti-hate. The project culminated in a 4-day workshop in Jouvence, Quebec. The workshop brought together 18 youth participants from three different locations. Two creative activities were introduced: I led the forum theatre activity, and Priyank Mathur led a comedic writing workshop.  

The workshop arose from my ongoing collaboration with Dr. Heather Lawford. This partnership began when Dr. Lawford asked me if I would be willing to lead a forum theatre activity in a conference about preventing violent extremism. I answered yes. Moving from a one afternoon conference session involving international experts and University students to a 4-day workshop meant that the nature of the project radically changed in both predictable and unpredictable ways.  Some of the youth participations had never done any theatre.  Also, some of the concepts and information around violent extremism required introduction. While skill-building was predictable, what was unpredictable was where the youth participations would take the forum theatre framework. An emerging theme was the desire to role play negative authority figures, coaches in particular.  

In Forum Theatre, it is the oppressed who is the agent of change. The development of the scenarios moved in the opposite direction. Is there power and agency for youth participants in this creative practice? This session is an opportunity to explore these questions with us.

Rebecca Harries, Bishop’s University

Rebecca Harries is a Full Professor and Chair of Drama at Bishop’s University, where she has most recently directed The Children’s Hour. She re-engaged with Forum theatre about 10 years ago and has led forum theatre-inspired workshops on professional boundaries.

Heather Lawford, Bishop’s University

Heather Lawford is a tier-2 Canada Research Chair in Youth Development at Bishop’s University and a Full Professor of Psychology, where she founded the Knowledge Mobilization program and certificate.

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16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Cultivating Post-Realist Perception via Performative Practices

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy

Concordia University

In-Person

Leader: Paolo Gruni

Event Details and Description

Leader: Paolo Gruni

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy

Concordia University

In-Person Session

Capitalist Realism is the all-encompassing, colonizing, infinitely plastic and adaptable conception of reality intertwined with systemic injustice (Fisher, 2009). By ‘post-realist perception’, I mean an embodied sense of being-in-the-world corrosively leaking through and magnifying the cracks of Capitalist Realism. Perception can be cultivated via performative praxis that engages the embodied consciousness in its wholeness, intersubjectivity, and relational embeddedness in the world (Zarrilli, 2019). Perception can also be conceived as a spiritually activist aesthetic practice when fostered via writing and performance to transform human cognition and relation to others, the self, and the world(s) (Li, 2021). Post-realist perception is, therefore, a practical, embodied, ongoing, ever-renewing, poetic project/process of creative re-definition (ambiguation) of reality. 

This workshop explores strategies to access post-realist perception by manifesting dream-knowledge into reality (Shawanda, 2020). The approach developed primarily from my Grotowskian theatre background and is informed by Indigenous epistemology and studies on expanded consciousness. In the first section of the workshop, the participants will undertake a physical and vocal warm-up highlighting the intersubjective and relational nature of vocality and embodiment. The second activity will combine rhythmical exercises, social dreaming as inspired by Gordon Lawrence (2018), and performative writing. In conclusion, the ensemble will engage in a collective creative experiment.

NOTE: The work requires physical engagement, but each participant can adapt their effort to their possibilities.

Paulo Gruni

Paolo Gruni is a theatre artist who trained and worked internationally. Gruni’s current interdisciplinary research combines Western laboratory theatre techniques with Indigenous epistemology and studies on expanded consciousness to develop performative practices, pedagogies, and artistic outcomes pursuing post-anthropocentric, post-capitalist, and post-colonial conceptions of creative agency.

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Break – 1 hour

18:00 – 19:00 EDT

Toeing the line: Harnessing the liminal through digital engagement and installation

Location: Congress Zoom Room

Convenors: Fraser Stevens and Robin Whittaker

Event Details and Description

Convenors: Fraser Stevens and Robin C. Whittaker

Location: Congress Zoom Room

In a climate of increasing labour action, how can theatre-makers employ presence to show solidarity.

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Tuesday, June 18

09:00 – 18:00 EDT

Quiet Room – June 18

Location: Room 1207 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1207 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

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Keywords

10:00 – 14:00 EDT

Publisher’s Kiosks – June 18

Publisher’s Kiosks will be open for business in Room B-236F – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

Event Details and Description

Publisher’s Kiosks will be open for business in Room B-236F – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

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Keywords

09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Indigenous Theatre and Performance II

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Drama – University of Alberta

Moderator: Selena Couture

Sarah MacKenzie , “Monique Mojica and the Mothers of our Indigenous Nations”

Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta & Tara Morris, “Championing Indigenous Languages through Theatre”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Selena Couture

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Drama – University of Alberta

Monique Mojica and the Mothers of our Indigenous Nations

This paper discusses Monique Mojica’s two best-known works: the radio play, Bird Woman and the Suffragettes (1991), and the playwright’s only published full-length piece, Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots (1991). My discussion focusses on the plays’ representations of Indigenous women’s roles in resistance to imperial rule and colonialist ideology throughout history and the manner in which intergenerational connection – particularly that between mother and daughter – is of profound relevance to this resistance. Mojica’s writing traces our connections to the grandmothers of our Indigenous nations, signifying the importance of continued connection. The paper thus addresses to the importance of our continued search for our missing sisters.

The half-hour play, Birdwoman and the Suffragettes, reconfigures the well-known tale of Sacajawea (Lemhi Shoshone), the guide to the American Lewis and Clarke expedition, recuperating her from historical appropriation. Mojica represents Sacajawea as a resistant leader, countering colonialist depictions of a docile, willing guide. In Princess Pocahontas, Mojica focuses on the journey of “Contemporary Woman,” as she tries “to recover the history of her grandmothers as a tool towards her own healing” (136). The plot revolves around this mixed-blood search for identity, with the “blue spot” signifying “Indian blood” (141). The play reimagines Indigenous woman leaders from Mexico, Peru, and North America, emblematically empowering these figures, and, while Mojica devises some disconcerting representations of sexual violence, the scenes are not gratuitous, but are used to relay the playwright’s ultimate message of female reclamation by emphasizing subversion, solidarity, and global connection. Towards the play’s surreal conclusion, Matoaka – Rebecca or “Pocahontas” – reaches out and “throw[s] a lifeline across generations”; for her, it is “enough that [her] child live[s]” (31). This closing scene reflects the salience of our maternal ties, as well as our ongoing intergenerational – arguably interworldly – connection to our foremothers. So, too, does the scene speak to the importance of our continued struggle to find our missing grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and sisters. Given lack of meaningful governmental support, this work continues to be a community endeavor imagined and reimagined through our artistic output.   

Sarah Mackenzie, University of Ottawa

SARAH MACKENZIE currently teaches Indigenous Studies at the University of Ottawa. She holds a PhD and M.A. in Feminist and Gender Studies from the University of Ottawa, as well as an undergraduate degree in Humanites from Carleton University. Her masters and doctoral work examined the ways Indigenous playwrights address the colonialist legacy of violence against women as it continues to play out in contemporary North American contexts. Her first book, Indigenous Women’s Theatre in Canada (Fernwood Publishing Company) furthers this reasearch. She has taught Indigenous Studies at the University of New Brunswick, Sheridan College, and the University of Ottawa. So, too, has she taught Gender Studies and Literature. Her academic research interests include Indigenous theatre, postcolonial feminist theory, Canadian history, and Indigenous literatures. She has also been involved in several writing projects that relate to the roles of Indigenous women activists in Canadian history and the state surveillance of racialized activists. Broadly, her writing considers the way in which people come to define themselves in a “multicultural” space like Canada, focusing particularly upon redressing colonial violence by engaging with decolonial aesthetics. Sarah’s syncretic identity as the daughter of a Métis/Anishinaabe mother and a first-generation Scottish-immigrant father is integral to her role as a feminist, antiracist, academic, researcher, and critic. Her methods of interpretive analysis are thus founded upon a strong commitment to elucidating and subverting violent colonial transgressions. Both her academic work and social activism are fundamentally concerned with the outmoding and dismantling of colonial hierarchies, the rebalancing of unequal power relations between Indigenous peoples and White settlers, and the eventual forging of alternative modes of relation.

Championing Indigenous Languages through Theatre

Tara Morris, Hul’q’umi’num’ speaker and Cowichan Tribes member, and Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta will discuss how they have used theatre to support the cross-generational transfer of Indigenous languages and culture by providing opportunities for Indigenous artists to develop new skills, engage in research, and share their talents with the academic and Indigenous community. Over the past eight years, they have worked together with Elders, performers, and language teachers of Coast Salish languages. Our drama troupe selected several stories and re-designed them as dramatic art. Stories have been interpreted through techniques of image work, sculpting, movement, improvisation, dialogue, and music. Their project has helped to bring the languages to the eyes and ears of community members, and, for the participants, it has helped unlock their ability to speak their traditional languages. Many of the younger generation desire to learn the language or to improve their fluency and to connect with their heritage. Traditional culture is centred on performance and storytelling, and applied theatre has been an excellent means for bringing forward stories and encouraging discussion on important social issues. 

This paper presentation will present the results of this project and describe how it improved the social, spiritual, and cultural well-being of the Indigenous participants by grounding them in their identity, heritage, and traditional knowledge. By making the language accessible and entertaining, we hope to galvanize a new generation of language learners. Documenting the process has allowed us to report to CATR on best practices of using theatre for language revitalization. 

Tara Morris, University of Victoria

Tara Morris is a PhD student in Theatre and Linguistics at the University of Victoria. She is a Cowichan Tribes member and Hulq’umi’num’ speaker. Tara has been teaching theatre in the Hul’q’umi’num’ language program since 2021.

Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta, University of Victoria

Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta is Associate Professor in Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria. Together with Tara Morris, she has directed shows with the Hul’q’umi’num Language Academy. At the moment Kirsten is working on her research on Coast Salish Language Reawakening through Theatre. She is also the Artistic Director of Project Limelight, a free theatre program for youth in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver.

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Dance and Social Justice

Location: Room  1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the School of Contemporary Arts – Simon Fraser University

Moderator: Shelley Liebembuk

Martin Austin “In Search of Justice through Ethics in Post-COVID Canadian Contemporary Dance”

Esteban Donoso, “A horrifying dance or how a dance survives”

Natalie Doonan, “A Choreography of Foraging for Food Justice”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Shelley Liebembuk

Location: Room  1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the School of Contemporary Arts – Simon Fraser University

In Search of Justice through Ethics in Post-COVID Canadian Contemporary Dance

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic limited the ability for most artists and companies to participate in dance practices. The opportunity for rest and reflection, alongside sentiments carried over from #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, caused a reckoning over social media about in-studio conduct and compensation. In response, many Canadian dance institutions put out public statements which laid out goals for changing hiring practices, training, and day-by-day operations. This paper presentation utilizes these demands for sexual and racial justice as an entry point into choreography’s complex ethics of self and other, power and pleasure, and “conducting the conduct of others” (Foucault 1983).

To do so, I track the progression of these calls for justice, starting from social media posts in the dance community, and the public responses made by Canadian contemporary dance companies – Ballet BC, Toronto Dance Theatre, and Ballets Jazz Montréal. I then consider the ethical implications of these requests, informed by the genealogy of philosophy emerging from the late works of Michel Foucault. I argue that this moment of resistance shifts the regimens that inform the dancer as a choreographic subject, the choreographer as a conditioner of tutelage, and the dance company as a practitioner of the art of government. And finally, I employ my encounters as a Toronto-based dance critic to ponder the aesthetic outcomes of this ethical discourse. Justice may indeed be evident in the dancing that emerges as a result of such acts of resistance.

Martin Austin, University of Toronto

Martin Austin is a PhD Student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. His research analyzes ethical concerns in Euro-American dance practice. Martin is Research Assistant for the SSHRC-funded ballroom study Category Is, and is a frequent reviewer for Intermission Magazine and The Dance Current.

A horrifying dance or how a dance survives

While describing a collective process to reconstruct the memory of the all-women dance festival No Mas Luna en el Agua (Quito-Ecuador 1997-2011), the paper focuses on revisiting the dance piece La Huesudita (2001) by Carolina Vásconez, originally performed during the festival. In a brief effort to locate the cultural context in which independent dance developed in Quito, I look at how Ecuadorian dancing bodies have come to bear different markings in relation to dominant concert dance histories, from which the most relevant is perhaps that of “ugly bodies” as a result of comparing them with dominant images of ballet white dancing bodies. Later, I device a feminist reading of La Huesudita through following our meanderings at revisiting this dance. I propose that revisioning these works is vital in order to create a reflective memory of women in dance and their vicissitudes towards artistic visibility and autonomy. I address the importance of complicating linear time and the slow temporality in which a dance can become visible. La Huesudita (the one with the bones) is a dance that, dealing itself with issues of remains, brings forward questions about record-making and the survival of dances in the context of Ecuador. I move through transcripts, interviews, and diaries of our working sessions, while reviewing relevant feminist and decolonial theorizations.

Esteban Donoso, York University

Esteban Donoso is a researcher-artist from Quito, Ecuador who works in the mediums of dance, performance and film. He is interested in oral histories, re-writing and auto theory as devices that can help to re-construct our situated and interconnected histories. Esteban is currently completing his PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. 

A Choreography of Foraging for Food Justice

Foraging, or harvesting wild plants and fungi for consumption, has been central to Canadian cuisine since the birth of the nation. Hunger and even starvation have oftentimes been the motivations for learning to identify, reap, and use wild plants. Importantly though, foraging requires skill and aesthetic accomplishment to hone perception. This aesthetic sometimes also involves an orientation toward food justice. “Informal practices of collecting help to understand not only survival strategy to alleviate hunger but also tactics to circumvent regulations that frame urban gathering as undesirable,” according to Flaminia Paddeu (2019: 2).

The implicit rules involved in foraging lead to a particular orientation toward place. I have noticed a certain choreography involved in foraging by paying attention to the bodily habits that it calls forth. In this paper panel presentation, I analyze foraging as a form of aesthetic training, from a performance angle. Further, walking, an act that is central to foraging, is also a well-developed methodology in artistic practice that is pertinent to this analysis. 

I argue that urban foraging can be considered a kind of counter-aesthetics that asserts a “right to the city,” as David Harvey would have it, or a “right to collect,” in the words of Paddeu. The exclusive, elitist etiquette associated with high end cuisine is challenged by the counter-aesthetics of this choreography of foraging, which belongs to what De Certeau would have called a “practice of everyday life”. In the context of climate catastrophe, which involves widespread biodiversity loss and the rampant spread of “invasive weeds” on the shores of the St. Lawrence River where I walk, it can even be considered a choreography of the essential (as opposed to the aesthetics of excess expressed in fine dining).

Natalie Doonan, Université de Montréal

Natalie Doonan is interested in embodiment, food and place. Her work has been shown in exhibitions and festivals across Canada and internationally. Her writing has appeared in professional and peer reviewed art and food culture publications. She serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Université de Montréal.

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Political Performance

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Robin Whittaker

Sara Schroeter, “Compounding Injustice: How School Musicals Exacerbate Social Inequities”

Fraser Stevens, “Courtroom Character Assassination: The unravelling of Maria Butina”

Michael Wheeler, “Cue the Wrecking Ball: Political Theatre Ripped From the Headlines”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Robin Whittaker

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Compounding Injustice: How School Musicals Exacerbate Social Inequities

Musicals are an integral part of many drama programs in Canadian secondary schools. Lauded for the ways that they bring students and faculty together, from across disciplinary and social boundaries, musicals enable schools to showcase youth talent, connect with local communities, and often raise money for drama programs. However, in whose image are these productions made? When understood as a form of public pedagogy (Galella, 2020), what do musicals say about the ways that schools imagine their communities, and how do representational practices interact with mandates for the curriculum to be widely inclusive of diversity? This paper presents data collected during a case study on representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in secondary musical theatre productions in a prairie town. The objective was to gain insight into the factors influencing teachers’ decision-making processes. Using a lens informed by critical race studies (Dei, 2006; James, 2015; Leonardo, 2013; St. Denis, 2007) and Black feminism (hooks, 2015; Morrison, 1992), this paper analyzes how teachers’ entanglements with white supremacy, cisheteropatrichy, and colonialism enable them to justify reproducing harmful stereotypes in musical theatre productions – even though some feel trapped by the constraints imposed on them by external factors. Educators who choose not to produce musicals appear to be more directly guided by the principles of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Most participants believe that racially minoritized students do not seem themselves adequately represented in highschool musicals, suggesting that their perennial presence on drama calendars compounds the social injustice that these students confront in schools.

Sara Schroeter, University of Regina

Sara Schroeter is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Arts Education Program in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, where she teaches drama, literacy, arts and anti-racist education classes in French and English.

Courtroom Character Assassination: The unravelling of Maria Butina

This paper addresses how the dialectic of success and failure manifests in espionage during the post-modern era. The paper utilizes the trial of the Russian foreign agent, Maria Butina–and event that is rife with theatricality–to articulate this concept. As the presentation will address, central to this performative event are the efforts undertaken by the United States government that amount to an initiative of, to borrow a term from Elinor Fuchs, character killing. These instances of character assassination reveal the United States’ orientalist approach to foreigners, as well as its patriarchal framing of relationships, that are used to undermine the credibility of Butina and others on trial. The paper will then continue on to break down instances from the Butina trial to establish how both the Russian and United States governments might find success in the failure and failure in success in this performative iteration of ‘justice’. The court-room proceedings against Butina are then reframed by Sarah Jane Bailes’ research that addresses the failure of representation. This is a particularly important consideration given that the case-study is concerned with the various characters that espionage agents employ. 

Fraser Stevens, Sheffield Hallam University

Fraser Stevens is a lecturer in Performance at Sheffield Hallam University. His writing has appeared in both peer-reviewed journals and edited anthologies. He is the co-director of the experimental theatre company, Almost Human, and has produced work in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Fraser’s most recent research looks to reposition secrets as theatrical undertakings.

Cue the Wrecking Ball: Political Theatre Ripped From the Headlines

The Wrecking Ball was a unique form of political theatre produced in English Canada from 2006 -2013. Founded in Toronto by Volcano Theatre Artistic Director Ross Manson and playwright Jason Sherman, the model engaged a specific producing structure for theatre to respond to moments of political need: One week to commission volunteer playwrights to prepare works responding to a specific political event, one week to cast scripts and attach directors to them, one week to rehearse the scripts.

This format was replicated in other Canadian cities in the lead up to the 2008 and 2011 Federal elections where Wrecking Balls occurred on the same night in many large Canadian cities, with the events using onstage technology and a joint communications strategy. Canadian Actors’ Equity amended contracts to allow members to waive regular rates of compensation to participate in a “Wrecking Ball” and leadership of the Toronto Wrecking Ball passed through the hands of many prominent arts leaders including current Why Not Artistic Director Ravi Jain, Soulpepper Artistic Director Weyni Mengesha, and National Arts Centre English Theatre Artistic Director Nina Lee Aquino. 

As a previous Wrecking Ball participant, I will investigate the forces that caused Wrecking Balls to be created, gain national significance, and eventually fade away. These forces are situated within the work of Filewod, Levin and Wright; and analyses the conventions and opportunities for political theatre in English Canada during this period (2006-14) via PACT, Indie, and ad-hoc productions and the context they created for grassroots political works on a short producing timeline. Finally, the paper will reflect on the lessons that can be extrapolated for future creators of theatre striving to respond quickly to political events.

Michael Wheeler, Queen’s University

Michael Wheeler is an Assistant Professor in The DAN School of Drama and Music and Coordinator of the graduate Arts Leadership program at Queen’s University. He is a co-founder of FOLDA where he is co-curator of the Festival of Live Digital Art, and serves as the organization’s Director of Artistic Research.

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Sustainability and Performance

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-CatherineUniversité de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Hope McIntyre

Conrad Alexandrowicz, “Performing in Response to the Anthropocene”

Rukayat N. Banjo, “Performing Climate Justice and Sustainability in Nigeria: A Reading of Ameh Elaigwu Climate of Change and Greg Mbajiorgu’s Wake up Everyone”

Philip Isaiah Smith, “Evaluation of the role of theatre for development in combating climate change in South Africa”

 

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Hope McIntyre

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-CatherineUniversité de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Performing in Response to the Anthropocene

In this presentation I argue that there is an ethical imperative to re-imagine and deploy a climate-crisis response theatre—at once theory, practice and pedagogy—and acknowledge it will require dedication, courage and imagination. I believe we must engage in this work across the theatre academy, even though we have no idea of its potential efficacy in the face of an unprecedented set of global crises. 

I claim that work of this disposition, whether in practice or the pedagogy that feeds it, may acquire the following features: Such work will break the frame of realism; that is, we ought not content ourselves with staging realistic plays that depict battles against the forces of ecocide. Thus, in crossing over into realms of abstraction we will find ourselves in the zones defined as ‘physical theatre’ and ‘dance.’ As a matter of theory with praxis we ought, when and where possible, exit the buildings where we normally work, and relocate to various outdoor environments to teach, create, supervise creation, and perform. In doing so we may forgo the usual divisions between ‘performer’ and ‘spectator,’ aligning our work with late 20th Century participant performance, defined by Nicholas Bourriaud as “relational aesthetics.”  Theatre education will have to respond to the heightened emotional states and needs of its community, invoking the therapeutic potentials that have always abided in the art form. Such work will logically fuse with reflections of a spiritual nature, and may produce events that overlap with ritual observance. Artist-scholars who are committed to developing new approaches to pedagogy in the teeth of eco-crisis may need to learn new skills, or refresh existing ones. As Greta Thunberg has written, “We now need a whole new way of thinking.”

Conrad Alexandrowicz, University of Victoria

CONRAD ALEXANDROWICZ is a Professor in the Department of Theatre at the University of Victoria, where he teaches movement for actors and directs department productions. He enjoyed decades-long career in as a creator of performance, migrating from dance to theatre. The co-edited collection that he instigated, and to which he contributed, entitled Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis, was published by Routledge in May 2021. He is now at work on another book for Routledge about performance training in the face of linked environmental crises, entitled Performing the Nonhuman: Towards a Theatre of Transformation.

Performing Climate Justice and Sustainability in Nigeria: A Reading of Ameh Elaigwu Climate of Change and Greg Mbajiorgu’s Wake up Everyone

One of the myths that delimit the topicality of climate justice and sustainability within the framework of Nigeria is the motif that ‘nature has its inherent ways of reinventing itself’. Whilst popular playwrights have failed to interrogate such myths in their works, those whose works address climate justice and sustainability are not studied. In this study, we examine the manners and ways Nigerian playwrights on the fringes as well as theatre directors approach the themes of climate justice and sustainability. We use the works of two playwrights-directors committed to climate change and justice, Ameh Elaigwu and Greg Mbajiorgu to argue for a space for ecodramaturgy on the Nigerian theatre scene. We draw on Tanja Beer’s “ecosynography” to query how the works explore climate justice and sustainability. We also ask foundational questions on how African theatre may promote sustainable environment rather than deplete it; and the extent to which theatre playwrights and directors function as agents of climate justice.

Rukayat N. Banjo, Bayero University – Kano

Rukayat N. Banjo is a faculty member in the Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano. She holds a BA in Performing Arts and a PhD in Film Studies. She teaches undergraduate courses in theatre and film in the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts in her faculty. She has published articles on films and drama. 

Evaluation of the role of theatre for development in combating climate change in South Africa 

This research examines the transformative potential of Theatre for Development (TfD) in addressing climate change issues within the Mosuthu community of Reservoir Hills, Durban, South Africa. The study investigates community members’ understanding of climate change, perceptions of TfD, and the crucial role of community participation. By focusing on capturing lived experiences and perspectives, the research aims to stimulate discourse and mobilise the community for climate action with participatory theatre techniques, critical awareness, and dialogue. In response to the urgency of climate change, the study explores innovative approaches for engaging communities in sustainable practices. Utilising TfD as a theoretical framework, the research design adopts a qualitative approach, integrating interviews, focus groups, and a stage play to provide a dynamic platform for participants to share narratives. This methodology allows for the collection of data reflecting the community’s collective consciousness, surpassing traditional interview and focus group methods. The stage play, a creative performance element, facilitates a deeper exploration of community perspectives on climate change issues, enhancing the research’s richness. Sample selection involves the random sampling of community members, including residents, local leaders, and environmental activists. Data from audience and participant perceptions will be captured through one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and a theatrical workshop. Thematic analysis, including thematic content analysis (TCA), will identify recurring themes and patterns in the collected data. The inductive method serves as the primary analytical approach, eliminating biases and establishing overarching impressions of the data. This research aims to provide valuable insights into TfD’s potential to empower the Mosuthu community to combat climate change, contributing to the broader discourse on innovative and culturally embedded approaches to climate change awareness and action

Philip Isaiah Smith, University of the Free State

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Race, Representation & Empathy in Applied Theatre

Location: Room 0030 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine– Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – University of Regina

Curator: Yasmine Kandil

Panelists: Taiwo Afolabi, Kathleen Gallagher, Yasmine Kandil, Monica Prendergast, Julie Salverson, Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, Robyn Shenfied, Belarie Zatzman

Event Details and Description

Curator: Yasmine Kandil

Location: Room 0030 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine– Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – University of Regina

The members of this group collaborated on a Research in Drama Education special themed issue with Drs. Tim Prentki (Winchester University) and Yasmine Kandil (University of Victoria), which was published in August 2023.  Some contributors from this special themed issue are coming together in this curated panel to discuss the developments with their research topics on the theme of race, representation, and empathy in Applied Theatre.  

The topic of race, representation and their implications on empathy and creative imagination have been on the minds of many scholars and practitioners in Applied Theatre and Drama in Education, and since the #metoo movement and the resurgence of the Black Livers Matter movement in 2020.  Ways of engagement with race and representation have shifted in classrooms and community halls, and issues of accountability, authenticity, identity politics and woke culture have collided and converged as participants and practitioners have attempted to salvage the value of creative play in their work.  This curated panel brings together several of these contributors to reflect on their research as published and to offer more insight that has emerged since then.

Curriculum Violence in Drama Education

This article examines a concept called ‘curriculum violence’ that offers a contribution to the field of curriculum studies, in deepening both teachers’ and scholars’ awareness of the ways in which our best intentions in the drama classroom may lead to potential harm for our students. We present two drama structures, both Canadian; the first by Carole Miller and Juliana Saxton and the second by Larry Swartz and Debbie Nyman. We then discuss what we view as a High risk issue; a new provincial curriculum to be implemented in Alberta, that we view as causing potential curriculum violence to students.

Robyn Shenfield, University of Victoria

Robyn Shenfied is a PhD candidate in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. In 2021 she was awarded a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Monica Prendergast, University of Victoria

Monica Prendergast is Professor of Drama/Theatre Education, Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Victoria. Her research interests include drama-based curriculum and pedagogy, drama/theatre in community contexts, and arts-based qualitative research methods.

“Theatre Beyond Culture Wars: why we need to get over ourselves”

A meditation on drama practice from an artist in Canada. My university students are preoccupied with damage and trauma. There are paralyzing obstacles to working across differences that were useful for a time but no longer serve a robust solidarity. The stories we collect, tell and re-tell ourselves to prepare for a ‘never again’ are stifled if the collisions between the evident and the imagined – and between suffering and joy – are reduced to their limits and not probed for their possibilities. I ponder this via an applied theatre project with my students and injured workers from across Ontario.

Julie Salverson, Queen’s University

Professor Julie Salverson is a writer, scholar and teacher. Her work embrace the relationship of imagination and foolish witness to risky stories. Books include Lines of Flight, an atomic memoir and 7 Canadian Libretti (editor).  She runs workshops for groups practicing resiliency through drama.  She is librettist for the opera Shelter.

“Race & representation in applied theatre: walking a fine line to salvage empathy & creative imagination”

This paper examines the evolving nature of how race and difference are represented in creative applied theatre work in classroom and community-based settings. The author uses several examples of performances and workshops she’s attended to ask important questions that point to the tensions percolating in our discipline around who gets to tell a story, how, and in what way this telling shapes perceptions and notions of the Other. At the heart of this inquiry is a desire to salvage creativity, play, and imagination in an environment that is increasingly fraught with cancel culture, virtue signalling, and identity politics.

Yasmine Kandil, University of Victoria

Yasmine Kandil is Associate Professor at the Department of Theatre at the University of Victoria.  Her work has engaged with communities who are under-represented, through Theatre for Development, scenario training for de-escalation strategies for police officers, and most recently through Celebratory Theatre.  

“Trans/Queer representation and drama: engendering new forms of empathy and relationality”

Through dialogue between Taylor, a trans male Turkish-Canadian theatre student and Kathleen, a queer, cis-gendered female Scottish-Canadian theatre researcher, Kathleen considers some questions that queerness and trans identities in the drama classroom invite. Based on their mutual engagement in a virtual drama club in a Toronto high school in the 2020–2021 school year, they recall together experiences of performance, performative writing, and the strangely intimate relationality provoked by a global health pandemic. They are interested in the possibility of distinct individuals forming powerful collectives in art-making and in life through a reconsideration of the idea of ‘empathy’ newly imagined as relational.

Kathleen Gallagher (University of Toronto)

Dr. Kathleen Gallagher is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Distinguished Professor, and Director of the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. Her scholarly articles have appeared in a wide range of journals. Her latest book is titled Hope in a Collapsing World: Youth, Theatre, and Listening as a Political Alternative (UTP 2022).

‘And yet’ … Critical questions, complicated conversations: curating a TYA curriculum

Can critical questions and complicated conversations addressing issues of representation, difference, and witnessing be positioned at the centre of a TYA curriculum? This paper examines contemporary, issue-based and culturally specific TYA scripts. In addition, a collection of aesthetic representations are offered as dynamic prompts to help further provoke dialogue across difference, and to invite different forms of knowing and knowledge into our shared TYA spaces. These curated sources are considered alongside the wisdom of Elie Wiesel, Johnston’s ‘Slow Curation’, Lauzon’s ‘Cultural Intimacy’, and Rothberg’s ‘Multidirectional Memory’ concepts in the effort to welcome and sustain relationships across multiple and challenging contexts.

Belarie Zatzman, York University

Dr. Belarie Zatzman’s research and teaching focus on performing memory and memorial, and Canadian Theatre for Young Audiences. Publications include: ““And yet”…  Critical questions, complicated conversations: curating a TYA curriculum” (2023); and “Applied Theatre Encounters at Canada’s National Holocaust Monument” (2020).

The fear of cultural appropriation is the beginning of wokeness in learning? reflections from teaching in Canada

The current heightened sensitivity around history, colonisation and the aftermath of the socio-political and cultural ethos of the world can create in many people the fear of cultural appropriation and misrepresentation. This fear can affect the ability to imagine and play in certain learning settings, especially in devising performances, socially engaged theatre, and other arts-based explorations. However, what happens when participants choose not to engage due to the abovementioned fears? This paper considers the differing ways in which fear of cultural appropriation and misrepresentation deterred students from learning while teaching in Canada.

Taiwo Afolabi, University of Regina

Taiwo Afolabi is an Associate Professor at the University of Regina. His research foci include applied theatre and its engagement in a variety of contexts such as justice, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the cultural and creative sector. He is the Director of the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre (C-SET).

To Represent or Not to Represent: Choice or Excuse?

This reflection considers the nuances of white theatre teacher/practitioners confronting race and racism in educational drama and theatre spaces. The author invites her white peers to reflect on theory and individual and collective praxis given discrete and shared identity markers. The author shares lessons learned through a variety of experiences, including as a guest at an arts-based youth programme focused on Indigenous identity reclamation.

Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, University of Texas

Roxanne Schroeder-Arce is Associate Professor of Theatre Education in the Department of Theatre & Dance and Associate Dean of Fine Arts Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on arts education and representation in theatre for young audiences. Her plays are published by Dramatic Pubishing.

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Break – 15 minutes

11:00 – 12:30 EDT

Quebec Artists Plenary

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Panelists: Dian Marie Bridge, Ginette Noiseux, Rahul Varma

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Artists’ Roundtable, Arts Leadership and Social Justice in Montreal Theatre is a dialogue among leading Montreal-based artists, creatives and leaders on the intersection of leadership and social justice within the Montreal theatre landscape. Each discussant brings a unique perspective to the conversation based on their experiences, journeys, identities, and the peculiarity of their theatre company and the historical, socio-cultural and political realities in Montreal.

Panelists
Dian Marie Bridge’s 
career in the theatre is characterized by a commitment to justice in both the work she produces and her approach as a director and educator. Her contribution to the plenary discussion will develop her own working definition of justice, which, to her, is righting a breach of the social contract or rewriting the social contract. She will reflect on how leading with justice in the creative process privileges time for empathetic solutions–even if that risks the final product (though often it does not). As the current artistic director of Canada’s longest-running professional Black theatre company, Black Theatre Workshop, Bridge will also offer insights from this work on how the company’s mission to “create greater cross-cultural understanding by challenging its audience and the status quo” is situated within broader conversations about social justice in Montreal and its theatre scene.

Ginette Noiseux: As the longstanding artistic director of Canada’s oldest French-language feminist theatre (and one of the oldest feminist theatre companies in the country), Ginette Noiseux has dedicated her career to supporting women’s work and advocating for gender equity within the theatre industry. In her contribution to the roundtable, she will reflect on how she has prioritized social justice values within the company as it has grown, over time, from an experimental feminist collective existing on the margins of the theatre community to an internationally reputed company firmly established within the Montreal theatre scene. Noiseux will also share insights on Espace GO’s ongoing partnership with Femmes pour l’Équité en Théâtre (F.E.T.), an organization committed to advocating for gender equity within Quebec theatre, where women continue to be under-represented in key artistic roles.

Rahul Varma co-founded Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre in 1981 as an intercultural company dedicated to diversity, representation and political theatre. As the company’s long-standing artistic director, he will reflect on Teesri Duniya’s historic commitment to “building cross-cultural bridges between Quebecers of Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Latinx, mixed-race, First Nations, and European origin” and on how this work has responded to evolving understandings of multiculturalism within Quebec. Throughout his career, Varma has been active in speaking out against institutional racism within the arts in Quebec and Canada. He will discuss this advocacy work as well as how his commitment to social justice has defined his approach to leadership. Varma is also an established playwright whose work engages with social justice themes; his contribution to the roundtable will reflect on his creative work and its intersection with activism (copied from the website).

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

12:45 – 14:15 EDT

Playwrights Canada Press Lunch

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Digital Performance: “Teaching and Learning: AI in/as/for Digital Performance”

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

For the third year of our collaborations as the Digital Performance Working Group we will focus our in-person seminar as a teach-in on how to engage AI within the performance studies classroom. This will consist of a teach-in where members of the group will individually present 10-15 min presentations on how they engage AI through teaching exercises, reflections on in-the-class experiences with using AI, and interventions into prevailing debates around the uses and dangers of AI for learning. We will invite the audience to participate in discussion throughout and build together a set of resources for future sharing.

Members of working group 2023-2024 – Kim McLeod (Assistant Professor, University of Guelph); Shana MacDonald (Associate Professor, University of Waterloo); Michael Wheeler (Assistant Professor, Queen’s University); Laura Levin (Associate Professor, York University); Peter Kuling (Assistant Professor, University of Guelph); Sebastian Samur (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto); Catherine Quirk (Lecturer, Edge Hill Univeristy UK); Jayna Mees (PhD Student, York University); Naomi Bennett (Instructor, Louisiana State University); Tara Harris (PhD Candidate, York University); Michael Bergmann (PhD Student; University of Toronto); Mark Lipton (Professor, University of Guelph); Taylor Graham (PhD Candidate; University of Guelph)

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Applied Theatre and Performance II

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Kathleen Gallagher

Lara Aysal, “Applied Theatre as a Methodology for Climate Justice: From a Co-Creation Process to Climate Action”

Emily Clegg, “Applied theatre: envisioning interconnectedness in the mental health system”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Kathleen Gallagher

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Applied Theatre as a Methodology for Climate Justice: From a Co-Creation Process to Climate Action

Taking action in times of climate crisis requires a transdisciplinary process aiming at sharing experiences for co-creating knowledge (Galafassi et al., 2018). Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing was first brought forward in 2004 by Elder Albert (from Mi’kmaw Nation) for meaningful collaboration (Bartlett et al. 2012). Albert defines this collaboration as “learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing, and to using both these eyes together, for the benefit of all” (Bartlett et al., pg. 335).

This paper aims to reflect on the project process that was co-created by three artists and four knowledge holders during a global pandemic inspired by Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing approach. The project takes its roots from an adaptation of the play “The Donation,” a play about climate change. The performed and recorded performance has been utilized as a stimulus to start further conversations with experts on the climate crisis, social change and justice. The recorded play has been sent to a climate justice organizer/activist, an environmental scientist, an Indigenous Elder, and an employee at an environmental organization. In-depth, open-ended online interviews with knowledge holders took place to discuss their thoughts on the adaptation of the play. According to knowledge holders’ responses, an adaptation of the play for each knowledge holder has been devised and performed online. The project aimed to explore a hybrid form of transdisciplinary research processes as a methodology for climate action in conversation with various knowledge holders. It experimented with what climate justice through applied theatre might look like, where the climate crisis requires us to build spaces for solidarity and care. In this paper, I investigate how applied theatre as a methodology can become a transdisciplinary tool within the discourse of transformational sustainability by inviting Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing approach into the co-production processes.

Lara Aysal, UBC

Lara is a climate justice and human rights activist, performance artist, facilitator of community-oriented projects. She has collaborated with a variety of communities in South Africa, South America, Turkey, Italy, Germany and so-called Canada and worked across borders with international theatre companies and facilitated research projects in development and conflict settings with refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities and Indigenous communities. She is one of the co-founders of AA+A Contemporary Performance Research Project and Ray Performance Collective. Before moving to Canada, she taught first- and second year acting classes at Beykent University and published individual and collaborative ideas on Conference of the Parties (COP20), civil disobedience, theatre in conflict zones and poems on possibilities of hope. She is interested in the role of theatre to address, organize and take action within the climate justice context though decolonizing methodologies. She finds joy in experimenting with tools of theatre to disturb everyday life. She is currently working asthe Core Artist/Communications Director at The Only Animal Theatre Society, while doing her PhD in Interdisciplinary Program at UBC. Her recent collaboration with artist/storyteller Rosemary Georgeson (Sahtu Dene/Coast Salish) Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing: Ways of Being and Seeing, will take place at The Heart of the City Festival November 2023, bringing Indigenous knowledge holders and communities together to talk about the climate crisis.

Applied theatre: envisioning interconnectedness in the mental health system 

Applied theatre is inherently an interconnected practice, accounting for community care, in a way that our contemporary colonial, unilateral mental health system does not. The mental health system as colonial is reflected by its scaffolding; accessibility to insurance (Nunes et.al 101), pharmaceuticals as a business (Cassels and Moynihan), and biomedical psychiatric practices (Aho 243). Individuals are patholaogized and medicated, leaving them dependent on said system, with unsustainable means for healing and coping (Watts et.al 15). Studies urge for new ways to meet students mental health needs, and for a focus to be placed on the pandemic of mental health that has emerged (Cairns et.al 47) (Parrish 185) (Watts 16). Decolonial methodology used in applied theatre practice reflects a certain interconnectedness that the mental health system lacks in that it addresses social issues with a community centred approach- by listening and responding to community needs, with a heart of care (Hobart 16)  and transformative justice in mind. Indigenous epistemology theorizes mental wellness within the medicine wheel, as an interconnected, sustainable system of the mind-body, nature, community and spirt, in contrast to that of a disconnected western mental health system (Bhattacharjee et.al 25). The mental health system depends on the mental-ill health of individuals for its survival, making it an unsustainable system (Keyes 95). This paper argues applied theatre methodology, reflected as an interconnected system, is an opportunity to engage in the pertinent topic of mental health and wellbeing, by rehearsing creative resilience, critical hope, and empathetic responsivity (Rhoades 335) (Hepplewhite 45).

Emily Clegg, University of Victoria

Emily Clegg is a full-time graduate student completing her Master of Arts in Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria. Currently, her research focus on storying experiences of mental health seeks to challenge how the university mental health system could better meet the needs of post-secondary students. Emily completed her Bachelor of Arts in 2020 at Brock University in Dramatic Arts.

A Winter’s Play: Intergenerational Theatre on Old Age and Winter Sport

A Winter’s Play is a Fredericton-based intergenerational theatre project that is bringing youth and older people (aged 65+) together to create a theatre piece based on Dr. Kristi Allain’s research interviews with older athletes competing in winter sports. These two groups are increasing siloed from each other, and even vilify each other as drains on limited social resources and contributors to fascist and racist political movements, global pandemics, and ecological disaster. Yet both experience similar neoliberal pressures to exercise, stave off physical decline and obesity, and thus spare an overburdened health system from further pressure. By creating a theatre piece about the experiences of older athletes, focusing not on fitness and health but on the community and pleasure such activities can offer, this project will offer a new paradigm on winter sport, aging, and social connection. Furthermore, it will bring young and old together in an experience of embodied inter-generational learning, where the young gain an affective understanding of what it means to experience joy and movement in an older body. Although we are currently in the preliminary stages of this project, which will be staged in the spring of 2024, the proposed panel talk may address issues such as intergenerational tensions and solidarities, staging research interviews, what it means for youth to embody older age, and what it means for older people to mentor youth in that process.

Kristi Allain, St. Thomas University

Kristi Allain is a professor of sociology and the Canada Research Chair in Physical Culture and Social Life at St. Thomas University. Allain’s research identifies relationships between expressions of gender, Canadian national identity, winter sport, and aging. She explores these topics through case studies and ethnographic work on various athletes. 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Social Provocations and Dramaturgies

Location: Room 1175 – Location: Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person / Hybrid Session

Moderator:

Atoyebi Oluwafemi Akinlawon, “Verbatim Plays for Social Justice: Ojoniyi’s Provocative Plays on Nigerian Stage”

Tyler Graham, “Shifts in Agency: The Performative Dynamics of Body-Technology Relations”

Mariah Horner, “Abolition Dramaturgies: Theatrical Framing in Break Horizons and Lilies”

 

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Taiwo Afolabi

Location: Room 1175 – Location: Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person / Hybrid Session 

Verbatim Plays for Social Justice: Ojoniyi’s Provocative Plays on Nigerian Stage

There is a way hegemonies all over the world attempt to control, censor and/or conceal the truth of their ruthlessness from the public on highly sensitive social injustices especially in the instances of crimes which are known to assault the sensibilities of the public. In fact, in many cases, controlling and concealing such crimes lead to committing further heinous crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, several agencies and individuals are ever committed to the course of challenging, exposing and sensitizing the public by calling for redress and/or justice in cases of such injustices. In Nigeria, one of such individuals is the playwright Bode Ojoniyi, who is considered to have started the writing, the staging and the promotion of, arguable, provocative plays written in the verbatim theatre tradition. Consequently, with reference to two of his dramatic memoirs (and their performance) written on a case of result racketeering in Osun State University against the backlash being blackmailed and defamed by the hegemony of the university and some agencies of the government to cover the crimes, this paper, using Jean Paul Sartre’s existential consciousness theory, examines his theatrical ordinances and technicalities of verbatim theatre for social justice as the first of their kind on the Nigeria theatre stage. It concludes that the writing and performance of the plays are marked with strong counter intention to confront and check the hegemonies and likewise sensitize the public to stand for the course of social justice.

Atoyebi Oluwafemi Akinlawon, Centre for Performing Arts and Film Studies in Education

Atoyebi Oluwafemi Akinlawon read English and International Studies at Barchelors degree. He also has a Master Degree in English Literature at University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He currently works as a volunteer research assistant at Centre for Performing Arts and Film Studies in Education, Osogbo Osun State, Nigeria. His areas of research interest are; Performance Studies, Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Autobiographical And Verbatim Plays… He is a New scholar Member of IFTR at Its 2023 conference in Accra Ghana. He is at the PhD application filling stage of Concordia University Montreal Canada to start his PhD research in Self Revelatory Performance with specificity in Nigerian theatre.

Shifts in Agency: The Performative Dynamics of Body-Technology Relations

Observing the proliferation of agentic technology in the theatre, in 2015, Jennifer Parker-Starbuck noted that “all technology is now always-already subject” (67). In this paper, I begin by building on Parker-Starbuck’s taxonomy of cyborg theatre, to note that in the post-pandemic context, the body is now always-already abject. That is to say, the body is now, by default, a virtual, unstable, or even absent body—something between object and subject. Using Parker-Starbuck’s vocabulary, I combine insights from Martina Leeker and Maurya Wickstrom to develop a theoretical framework that highlights the moment-to-moment interplay between bodies and technologies on stage. Agency of different types is assigned by and between human bodies and technologies, through linguistic and technological performatives, on a moment-to-moment basis, and these shifts are enmeshed in the process of commodification.

To illustrate the dramaturgical significance of this framework, I revisit two past performances that I helped to develop: my own Discord-based cyber theatrical project Blink and Squint: The Missing Colours (2021) and Toasterlab’s hybrid VR-based Edinburgh Fringe show, Aionos (2023). Both of these projects involved the agentic interplay between on-stage bodies and technologies, and were never fully completed. I hypothesize that these projects could benefit from my framework, which would allow for a shared vocabulary that helps to direct and articulate artistic intentions in a devised theatre context.

Works Cited

Parker-Starbuck, Jennifer. “Cyborg Returns: Always-Already Subject Technologies.” Performance and Media, edited by Sarah Bay-Cheng et al., University of Michigan Press, 2015, p. 67, doi.org/10.3998/mpub.5582757.

Tyler Graham, York University

Tyler Graham is a Ph. D. student and theatre artist at York University whose work occurs at the intersection of dialectical theatre and intermedial performance. Much of his artistic work has revolved around online “cyber theatre” and virtual reality performance. He presented at VRTO with VR performance artist Ari Tarr.

Abolition Dramaturgies: Theatrical Framing in Break Horizons and Lilies

Abolition dramaturgy (Nick Fesette) combines theatre theory and abolitionist scholarship to consider how theatre can illuminate anti-carceral values and imagine an abolitionist future. My work deals with dramaturgies of carceral time (duration and syncopation), rehearsal practices that both rewind the past and imagine alternate futures, and the chorus, theorized as both the forcibly homogenized incarcerated community (general population) and a powerful collective in solidarity (protest march.) Here I turn to dramaturgies of space, exploring how the contained spaces of prisons are both reflected and challenged by aesthetic containers like the theatrical frame.

Here, I analyze how the dramaturgical conventions of the theatrical frame generate both aesthetic and political meaning (Viktor Shklovsky, Samuel Coleridge, Bertolt Brecht, Josette Féral). Then I focus on two specific theatrical frames, the play-within-a-play and the musical, arguing that each framing device offers us a critical and affective lens that examines the cruelty of carceral punishment. Through an analysis of the framing in a 2019 iteration of Michel-Marc Bouchard’s Lilies by LemonTree Productions and Buddies in Bad Times that was set in a prison in so-called Canada, I argue that metatheatricality invites an oscillating aesthetic wedge of doubt (Jenn Stephenson, Bert States) into the value of justice system. Then, through analysis of Kim Senklip Harvey’s “rocking Indigenous justice ceremony” Break Horizons, I argue that the dramaturgy of musicals (Stacy Wolf, Corey Payette) generates a dual ambivalent space that holds both affective extremes of carceral violence, intense suffering and unimaginable resilience. As abolition dramaturgy, frames have the potential to manifest a messy duality in favour of abolition, holding seemingly incompatible values to render them both in play: right and wrong, just and unjust, horror and strength, suffering and resilience.

Mariah Horner, Queen’s University

Mariah (Mo) Horner is a theatre artist, musician, and PhD candidate at Queen’s University. Along with Dr. Jenn Stephenson, Mariah co-authored Play: Dramaturgies of Participation (Playwrights Canada Press, June 2024.) Her writing has also appeared in Theatre Research in Canada and Canadian Theatre Review and she was a 2022 recipient of the Mayor’s Arts Award in Kingston, Ontario.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Queer Performance I

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Presenté par le Département de littératures et de langues du monde – Université de Montréal

Moderator: Wes Pearce

Bridget Baldwin & Magdalena El-Masry, ” “Things Better Not Remembered”: Censoring Queer Trauma in Daniel MacIvor’s Somewhere I Have Never Travelled and Thom Fitzgerald’s The Hanging Garden”

Cameron Crookston, “Justice for Drag Queen Storytime: Considering the Legal Value of Drag for Young Audiences”

Alex Ferrone, “Queer Vocabularies and Solidarities in the Theatre of Fake Friends”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Wes Pearce

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Presenté par le Département de littératures et de langues du monde – Université de Montréal

“Things Better Not Remembered”: Censoring Queer Trauma in Daniel MacIvor’s Somewhere I Have Never Travelled and Thom Fitzgerald’s The Hanging Garden

Daniel MacIvor’s play Somewhere I Have Never Travelled (1988) and Thom Fitzgerald’s film The Hanging Garden (1997) explore intergenerational trauma and cycles of abuse through the narrative structure of homecoming.  Each work centers on a man who has moved to Toronto and—years later—returns to his rural Nova Scotian hometown to take part in a major family event.  These men must reckon with memories of a tumultuous shared past, coloured by physical abuse, alcoholism, and, in the case of Fitzgerald’s film, homophobia.  Significantly, MacIvor’s play does not explicitly address an intersection between sexuality and childhood trauma.  Though Somewhere I Have Never Travelled is semi-autobiographical, its main character’s queerness is censored.  This artistic compromise was, for MacIvor, “another form of closeting” (Grignard 195).  While The Hanging Garden premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to great acclaim, MacIvor’s Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, first performed at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre nine years earlier, was poorly received by critics and remains unpublished.  Identifying the censorship of MacIvor’s script as a form of injustice, we ask: what does Fitzgerald realize in The Hanging Garden that MacIvor is prevented from exploring in Somewhere I Have Never Travelled?  How do trauma, queerness, and justice interact in Fitzgerald’s film, and how might these themes have served MacIvor’s play?  Through comparative analysis, and with the use of archival materials, we explore the reception of these performances and posit that censorship and the obfuscation of homophobia is an injustice which results in the loss of vital queer narratives.

Bridget Baldwin, University of Guelph

Bridget Baldwin is a PhD student at the University of Guelph. She received her BA in English and Philosophy from Cape Breton University.  She completed her MA in English at the University of Guelph with the support of SSHRC-CGSM.  Her research interrogates settler conceptions of “home” in Nova Scotian performance.  

Magdalina El-Masry

Magdalina El-Masry earned her BFA in Film Studies and her MA in Film and Moving Image Studies at Concordia University. Her MA thesis is a study of dramatic film performance in American cinema through the lens of intensity. Her research interests include film historiography, performance studies, and adaptation.

Justice for Drag Queen Storytime: Considering the Legal Value of Drag for Young Audiences

In 2023, I was contacted by the law firm McCarthy Tétrault in regard to a definition involving Rainbow Alliance Dryden’s Drag Queen Story Hour and conservative blogger Brian Webster. In the week’s that followed I produced an affidavit for the case that aimed to explain “the cultural significance of drag.” While I have spent much of my career analyzing, and teaching students about the cultural significance of drag, I typically approach this task from an academic position, drawing on a blend of queer theory, theatre studies, and performance studies discourses. My experience producing a 15-page legal document that defended drag as not only a legitimate art form but an important cultural practice both drew on my existing expertise in the field while simultaneously challenging me to rethink how I understand the cultural value of drag, particularly in the context of theatre for young audiences.

For this conference paper, I will reflect on my experience writing this document and consulting with a legal team that comes at drag queen story time from a legal and justice-based framework. I will analyze how a shift towards a legal framework and legal discourse necessitated a rethinking of my own position on drag’s function, particularly as it applies to accessibility, activism, and cultural value. In doing so this paper will more broadly raise questions about theatre and performance studies’ value to legal discourse as well as how considering theatre’s function from a legal/justice-based perspective can broaden and extend our own research and teaching.

Cameron Crookston, UBC Okanagan

Cameron Crookston is a lecturer in cultural studies at UBC Okanagan. He holds a PhD in theatre and performance studies from the University of Toronto. He teaches classes on popular culture and queer performance and is the editor of the anthology The Cultural Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race 

Queer Vocabularies and Solidarities in the Theatre of Fake Friends

New York theatre company Fake Friends has earned recognition in recent years for their irreverent, confrontational, multi-media work: after the success of their show Circle Jerk (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and then winner of an Obie), an earlier work, This American Wife, enjoyed a reworked digital production in 2021. The show revisits the cultural product that brought Fake Friends’ members together as collaborators in the first place: reality TV’s The Real Housewives. In the play, cameras follow three gay men through a soulless Long Island McMansion as they recite and refashion a litany of Housewives references – a litany indeed, for the source material takes on almost scriptural significance. But the structure breaks down, subject to the same ontological uncertainties that tease viewers of all reality television: surely, we know this ostentatious posturing is fabricated for the camera, and yet, just how much of it might in fact be real? By the time we reach the play’s coda – staged like a Housewives reunion – we are asked to contemplate what exactly is at stake for gay male identity (at least a narrow segment of it) in a shared vocabulary so rooted in conflict and class pretension. I argue that This American Wife, in adapting the Housewives archive, stages the affinities and antagonisms of a contemporary gay habitus replete with the sensual pleasures of class fantasy while, at once, hostile and masochistic, tracing the knife’s edge that separates vanity and cruelty from the possibility for queer connection and solidarity.

Alex Ferrone, l’Université de Montréal

Alex Ferrone is an Assistant Professor of English in the Département de Littératures et de Langues du Monde at l’Université de Montréal, where he teaches dramatic literature and theatre history. He is the author of Stage Business and the Neoliberal Theatre of London (Springer, 2021).

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Performing the Archive

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the School of Dramatic Art – University of Windsor

Convenors: Benjamin Gillespie & Laura Levin

 

Event Details and Description

Convenors: Benjamin Gillespie & Laura Levin

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the School of Dramatic Art – University of Windsor

Participants:

Benjamin Gillespie, Baruch College, CUNY

Laura Levin, York University

Michelle MacArthur, University of Windsor

Matt Jones, Toronto Metropolitan University

Keren Zaiontz, University of British Columbia

Jessica Riley, University of Winnipeg

Paul Halferty, University College Dublin

Jess Dobkin, Artist

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Troubling the Stage: Bodies, Spaces, and Justice

Location: Room 0030 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Curator: Jose Miguel Esteban

Jose Miguel Esteban, “Dreaming Elsewhere: Troubling Dance Studies through Abolitionist Questions”

Carolina Bergonzoni, “Staging the Body: The Body is Who I Am”

Collette Murray, “Justice Will Dance Outside the Proscenium Stage”

Sandeep Kaur Glover, “Sensorial Snapshots: Standing in the Paradoxical Spaces between Erasure and Existence”

Event Details and Description

Curator: Jose Miguel Esteban

Location: Room 0030 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Responding to this year’s CATR theme of Staging Justice, this curated panel provides us an opportunity to challenge the Western frames and colonial registers that reverberate through the spaces of our embodied performances. Reflecting on what we noticed as the call for proposal’s lack of definition and critical engagement with how we encounter the “stage,” our papers reflect on our scholarly, artistic, and activist work toward justice in order to discuss, rethink, and possibly even refuse what we come to know of as the stage. 

In particular, this panel brings together emerging scholars whose practices center the body and questions of embodiment. For each of us, the body is where we engage with performance, dance, theatre, and pedagogy. Our bodies are sites of knowledge—the place where knowledge is stored and transmitted. Our body is a stage on which, and through which, we perform knowledge. 

Reflecting on the colonial residue of how we come to know the stage through its manifestation of colonial erasures, ableist hierarchies, and racial capitalist logics, we ask: Who belongs to the stage? Who continues to be erased and be absented from it? What is it like to perceive the body, the classroom, the land as a stage? Lastly, we reflect on our responsibility as artist-scholars, activists, educators, and performers to take up the stage that is a conference setting. 

Dreaming Elsewhere: Troubling Dance Studies through Abolitionist Questions

What would it mean to abolish the stage? As an artist schooled in Western forms of postmodern dance, I feel troubled by such a suggestion. The stage has become a place of comfort, a site for an embodied expression that I don’t usually have access to in my daily life. And still, I feel a sense of excitement and desire when I imagine what this question invites me to pursue. Afterall, the stage of Western concert dance has also been a place of violence for my racialized body, a site where my queer and mad gestures are policed and rehabilitated in service of neoliberal systems and colonial structures…I am excited by the possibility of other ways to enact performances of/through dance; I desire different spaces to feel into these expressions of my radical embodiments. 

Inspired through critical interventions offered by a disability studies questioning of access (Titchkosky, 2011) and Black radical traditions of fugitive study (Moten & Harney, 2013), this paper encounters the trouble that the question of abolition poses within my own artistic and scholarly encounters with the stage. Prompted by Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s suggestion of abolition as “a fleshly and material presence of social life lived differently” (Petijean, 2018), I rechoreograph this trouble into a creative space for dreaming different ways of be(com)ing that resist racial capitalist expectations of artistic production and colonial logics of academic scholarship. I reflect on what other worlds are manifested when we reinterpret the ways that embodied difference troubles the stage.

Jose Miguel Esteban, University of Toronto

Jose Miguel (Miggy) Esteban is a dance/movement artist, educator, and PhD candidate at the Department of Social Justice Education, University of Toronto. Influenced by disability arts and culture, Black radical traditions, Indigenous storytelling, and queer performance, Miggy’s research engages in embodied practices of improvisation to re-interpret curriculum as choreographic sites. 

Staging the Body: The Body is Who I Am

This paper addresses the notion of dance and the body as sites of knowing and learning. I build on embodied forms of inquiry (Bergonzoni 2022; Snowber 2016, 2018) as a way to reflect on what we consider as a “place of research and praxis” (CATR Call For Paper, 2023). The physical appearance of this body, that is who we are, is always charged with political, social, economic, and other labels; the choices we make, and desires we have to fit in certain ‘stages’.  

When I introduce myself by saying “I am Carolina”, I am using a shortcut to say that I am the body that is in front of you: the physicality, presence, and breath. However, the definition of what the body is and who I am can become interchangeable. The body is a place of research and praxis that can ‘stage’ justice and – more often than not – injustice. As an example, let’s consider the clothes we choose to wear depending on the context in which we are: business casual, formal clothes, pink tights and a unitard, etc. 

In the paper, I will continue by addressing how I have changed my body to better ‘fit’ certain ‘stages’ and identities. I lost weight to be ‘the dancer’, I wore glasses to look like ‘the smart kid’. 

Carolina Bergonzoni, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Carolina Bergonzoni (she/her) is a dance artist, a somatic educator and practitioner, and an emergent scholar. Carolina holds a Ph.D. in Arts Education, a BA and MA in Philosophy, and an MA in Comparative Media Arts. She is the 2023 recipient of the Outstanding Dissertation Award for the Arts & Inquiry in Education at AERA. Her practices span between dancing, writing, and teaching from the body.

Justice Will Dance Outside the Proscenium Stage 

As a Black Canadian woman of Afro-Guyanese descent, Murray is a dance artivist and emerging scholar navigating the performing arts, education sectors, academia, and world using a revolutionary lens: to decolonize the stereotype that African diasporic dance is beyond performance. Murray is a dance artist engaged in work on anti-racism in dance and centering justice outside the proscenium stage. The longevity of Murray’s career is not dependant on being legitimized on proscenium stages. Justice is an intentional act that Murray carries in every space she occupies in Canada and abroad, through artistry, cultural practice and community arts, leadership, and scholarship. 

Through this paper, a personal pedagogy is unpacked with examples of Miss Coco Murray’s work on being a living archive who lives an intersectional cycle of critically analysing, embodying Afrodiasporic dance, applied performative praxis to the reflection, theorizing and producing of scholarship. Justice is centred by Murray in the places, lands in Canada and abroad and discussed through specific ethnocultural practices in the street, museum, art gallery, classroom, and community.

Collette Murray, York University  

Collette Murray is a multi-award-winning artist-scholar, dance educator, cultural arts programmer, mentor, and arts consultant. Murray pursues a Ph.D. in Dance Studies at York University focusing on dance education and anti-racist dance pedagogies.  She is the Artistic Director of Coco Collective offering culturally responsive projects that connect participants to African and Caribbean arts. Miss Coco Murray is her mobile dance education business (www.misscocomurray.com). Murray’s background includes Caribbean folklore and West African dance styles while amplifying Black arts and dance, in a Canadian context.

Sensorial Snapshots: Standing in the Paradoxical Spaces between Erasure and Existence

As a participant in the curated panel, Troubling the Stage: Bodies, Space, and Justice, through the performance of what I conceptualize as sensorial snapshots (Glover, 2023), I invite audience-participants to listen to and from their own embodied resonances as I proclaim my body as stage. 

I will perform three sensorial snapshots that flesh out moments of my lived experience as a Punjabi-Sikh Canadian woman of color whose ancestors were among the first wave of Punjabi-Sikh migrants to arrive in Canada in the early 1900s. In considering the etymology of the word stage, “to stand…something to stand on” (https://www.etymonline.com/word/stage) and its linkages to my multigenerational narrative, I ask: 

How has my identity as a Punjabi-Sikh Canadian woman been staged for me and implicated in colonial dynamics from the moment I took my first breath? For those who are marginalized, what are some challenges of finding one’s stance amid the societal entrenchment of colonial legacies?

As the first in my lineage to pursue doctoral studies, how may I navigate pangs of grief when confronted with the visceral void of my family’s multigenerational un-staging, the ongoing colonial erasure of their voices, stories, and cultural knowledges in education and research? 

How may sensorial snapshots offer (re)humanizing and anti-oppressive pedagogies for those who have been marginalized in society to stand in dignified ways that transgress the clasp of colonialism? And how may sensorial snapshots open up possibilities to honour our ancestors, those whose shoulders we stand on?

Sandeep Kaur Glover, Simon Fraser University

Sandeep Kaur Glover (she/her/hers) is a seasoned educator, multidisciplinary artist, and PhD candidate in the Arts Education program at Simon Fraser University. Her interdisciplinary research integrates arts-based approaches, decolonizing perspectives, and Sikh-Punjabi onto-epistemologies in investigating culturally responsive, embodied pathways that foster wholeness, healing, and social justice activism. 

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Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Digital Performance: “Teaching and Learning: AI in/as/for Digital Performance”

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

For the third year of our collaborations as the Digital Performance Working Group we will focus our in-person seminar as a teach-in on how to engage AI within the performance studies classroom. This will consist of a teach-in where members of the group will individually present 10-15 min presentations on how they engage AI through teaching exercises, reflections on in-the-class experiences with using AI, and interventions into prevailing debates around the uses and dangers of AI for learning. We will invite the audience to participate in discussion throughout and build together a set of resources for future sharing.

Members of working group 2023-2024 – Kim McLeod (Assistant Professor, University of Guelph); Shana MacDonald (Associate Professor, University of Waterloo); Michael Wheeler (Assistant Professor, Queen’s University); Laura Levin (Associate Professor, York University); Peter Kuling (Assistant Professor, University of Guelph); Sebastian Samur (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto); Catherine Quirk (Lecturer, Edge Hill Univeristy UK); Jayna Mees (PhD Student, York University); Naomi Bennett (Instructor, Louisiana State University); Tara Harris (PhD Candidate, York University); Michael Bergmann (PhD Student; University of Toronto); Mark Lipton (Professor, University of Guelph); Taylor Graham (PhD Candidate; University of Guelph)

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16:15 – 17:45 EDT

History and Archive I

Location: Room 1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Sasha Kovacs

Kirsten Leahey, “WP New Play Development: Embracing Counternarratives”

Craig Walker, “The Most Consequential Scandal in Theatre History”

Robin Whittaker and Kailin Wright, “Online ACTS of Justice: Reimagining Atlantic Theatre Digital Collections”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Sasha Kovacs

Location: Room 1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

WP New Play Development: Embracing Counternarratives 

Founded in 1978 by Julia Miles, who recognized the urgent need for women artists to have a space of their own, the WP is the United States’ oldest and largest theatre company dedicated to developing, producing, and promoting the work of women+ at every stage of their careers. It’s mission is to pursue gender parity and to empower women artists, administrators, and audiences. In preparation for a book, A History of The WP Theater, this conference paper represents material from my project’s second chapter, “WP New Play Development: Embracing Counternarratives,” which addresses the significant, feminist new play development practices of the organization. In The Feminist Spectator as Critic (1988), Jill Dolan argues that the feminist critic can be viewed as a “resistant reader,” who resists “manipulation.” A mode of resistant reading is one that serves as “political intervention in an effort toward cultural change” (2). WP’s writers, I assert are “resistant artists,” who create and produce work that embrace counternarratives and strive for progressive change. My analysis will headline the inception of WP’s new play development, with works that were collaboratively devised, such as A…My Name is Alice (1983) by Joan Micklin Silver & Julianne Boyd, early experimental endeavors, such as Abigdon Square (1987) by María Irene Fornés, to more contemporary, socio-political projects, such as Ironbound (2016) by Martyna Majok. Through the monograph and this paper, I will demonstrate how, by creating a platform for women+ artists, the WP has progressed and sustained its productions to intervene in and redress the gender inequalities of US theatre.

Kirsten Leahey, Boston University.

Leahey is an Assistant Professor at Boston University. Her publications include articles in Theatre Topics, Theatre History Journal, Theatre Journal, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and New England Theatre Journal, as well as essays in the anthologies Teaching Performance Practices, Routledge Companion to Latinx Theatre, and the Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy Anthology. She is a recipient of a Fulbright, collaborating with the Ireland’s Abbey Theatre. 

The Most Consequential Scandal in Theatre History 

In 1961, a play by the historian Wu Han, about an episode in the life of the sixteenth century Ming Dynasty official Hai Rui, was produced in Beijing. The play was adjudged by some to be a thinly disguised attack on Chairman Mao Zedong. The furor ignited by those rumours led not only to the closure of the production and the punishment of the author and leading actor, but to a full decade of terror causing the deaths of an estimated 20 million people and the ruination of many millions of other lives, events from which China has yet to recover. That, at least, has been the most widely accepted account of the matter in both China and the West for over fifty years. It is rightly regarded as the most infamous episode in theatre history, and is plainly not redeemed by the way it also led to the creation of a new theatrical genre. But is it possible that the accusations against Wu Han’s play had been entirely concocted for malicious reasons? An apt story for our own age of conspiracy theories and mob retribution.

Craig Walker, Queen’s University

Craig Walker is a CATR Board Member, Professor at Queen’s University and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His publications include The Buried Astrolabe: Canadian Dramatic Imagination and Western Tradition, The Broadview Anthology of Drama and the Broadview King Lear. He works in Canadian theatre as a director, playwright and actor.

Online ACTS of Justice: Reimagining Atlantic Theatre Digital Collections

How can digital archives and tools help decolonize Canadian theatre history? How might their materials and the early archival efforts that gathered them be valued without, as Roopika Risam warns, reinscribing colonial dynamics (Risam 2018)? And when these archives are held online, how do we transform their relationship to users in sustainable, flexible ways that reflect, as CATR 2024 prompts, justice as an “aspirational value for an equitable system and society”? 

ACTS (Atlantic Canadian Theatre Site) was developed in the 1990s and early 2000s by professors Ed Mullaly (UNB) and Patrick O’Neill (MSVU) before it went offline when its host, UNB’s Electronic Text Centre, reformed into the present-day Centre for Digital Scholarship. Though its early HTML coding has since been deemed a security risk, ACTS was ahead of its time in making available tens of thousands of listings, entries, articles, and plays from North America’s eastern seaboard and beyond, from the 1700s to the early 2000s, by way of selected “tags” and internal search engines. Mullaly and O’Neill’s early experiments in digital collections yield extensive performance calendars, playbills, theatre chronologies, a Canadian drama bibliography, and (curated by Anton Wagner) the collected fictional and critical works (many unpublished) of Herman Voaden and Patricia Joudry. Today, UNB has made ACTS available to a handful of scholars (including the two of us) with the aim of reforming its material for public availability within decolonial and intersectional contexts.

Robin C. Whittaker, St. Thomas University

Robin C. Whittaker is an associate professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton where he teaches dramatic literature. His current research focuses on nonprofessionalizing theatre practices, with articles in journals that include TRIC and CTR. He is editor of the play anthology Hot Thespian Action! Ten Premiere Plays from Walterdale Playhouse (AUP 2008), co-creator No White Picket Fence: A Verbatim Play about Young Women’s Resilience through Foster Care (Talonbooks 2019), and author of the forthcoming monograph Alumnae Theatre Company: Nonprofessionalizing Theatre in Canada (UTP 2024). He currently serves as President of CATR.

Kailin Wright, St. Francis Xavier University

Kailin Wright is an Associate Professor, Jules Léger Research Chair, and award-winning teacher at St. Francis Xavier University. She is the author of Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2020) as well as the critical edition of Carroll Aikins’s The God of Gods: A Canadian Play and articles in Theatre Journal, Canadian Literature, Theatre Research in Canada, Canadian Theatre Review, and Studies in Canadian Literature. Kailin is also Associate Editor of Canadian Theatre Review and Fiction Editor at The Antigonish Review.

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Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Dramaturgy/Method

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Taiwo Afolabi

Yasmine Agocs, “Building Bridges: Mestiza Methodologies in Latina Canadian Theatre”

Amin Azimi, “Redistributing the Sensible through Performance Art: A Rancièrian Approach to Social Justice”

Thea Fitz-James, “Fringe as Performance Methodology”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Taiwo Afolabi

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Building Bridges: Mestiza Methodologies in Latina Canadian Theatre

This paper presentation utilizes mixed methodologies to deconstruct how the Latina identity is conveyed in Canadian theatre. Latina identities in Canadian theatre and media are often under/misrepresented, leaving the Latina body and identity off-stage and hidden in the wings. Though Latina artists like Carmen Aguirre, Beatriz Pizano and Lina de Guevara are prime examples of bridging their Latina identities in Canadian contexts, there is still far more to showcase and more to deconstruct. Thus, Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/Las Fronteras and Amanda Cordova’s “Mestiza Methodology” serve as inspired practice for this presentation in hopes of engaging in decolonized forms of dialogue around this topic through a mixed Latina and Indigenous lens. I hope to engage in the discourse of Latina bodies represented on Canadian stages using Mestiza methodologies to de/reconstruct the bridges made between Latin/South American and Canadian Theatre.

Yasmine Agocs, University of Toronto

Yasmine Agocs is a first-year PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. She earned her MA in Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph and her BA in Dramatic Arts at Brock University. In her MA, she conducted creative research on the relationship between scriptwriting, memory, and identity. Her current research interests lie in Latinx Theatre in Canada, collective memory in the community, and Latina representation on stage.

Redistributing the Sensible through Performance Art: A Rancièrian Approach to Social Justice

Jacques Rancière, a French philosopher and aesthetician, does not explicitly discuss the concept of justice in his writings. However, his interpretation of politics as the redistribution of the sensible offers a practical framework for understanding the role of performance art in promoting social justice. Due to its aesthetic nature, this research explores how performance art can serve as a form of dissensus against the established order. It gives visibility and voice to silenced and marginalized groups, ultimately leading to justice. 

By challenging dominant discourses and amplifying marginalized voices, performance art can pave the way for impeaching the holders of power and staging justice. The “woman_life_freedom” movement in Iran exemplifies this concept, where performance art has transformed public spaces into a dynamic stage for protest and resistance, challenging state control and subverting the regime’s iconography with symbols of female empowerment.

The movement’s artistic expressions, encompassing songs, installations, poems, and performances, have amplified the voices of Iranian women, articulating their demands for equality and bodily autonomy. These artistic interventions have resonated globally, giving the movement a powerful voice and fostering a sense of collective agency among Iranian women and their supporters in staging justice.

Performance art’s ability to challenge the established order lies in its capacity to redistribute the sensible, disrupting audiences’ expectations and forcing them to reconsider their assumptions about art and the world. It is accomplished through unconventional forms of expression, such as non-traditional materials and techniques. Sharing art in public spaces has empowered individuals to challenge authorities and subvert traditional artistic norms.

In conclusion, performance art, guided by Rancière’s concept of redistributing the sensible, can play a transformative role in pursuing social justice. By challenging the status quo, amplifying marginalized voices, and fostering collective agency, performance art can contribute to a more equitable and just society.

Amin Azimi, University of Toronto

Amin Azimi is a Ph.D. student at CDTPS, University of Toronto. His fields of interest include Dramaturgy in the twenty-first century, Aesthetics and Dramaturgical aspects of Post-Dramatic Theatre, and The policies of production and representation of Iranian social movements on international theatre stages. In addition to publishing academic articles in international journals such as Asian Theatre Journal, Alternatives Théâtrales, and Theater der Zeit, he has directed and created several short films.

Fringe as Performance Methodology

This paper explores the model of the Canadian Associations of Fringe Festival (CAFF) and fringe as a performance style.  

CAFF Fringes operate on a unique curation model where all festival participants are chosen via lottery. While no two fringe shows are alike, this open-access platform attracts a certain style of performance. In his book, Fringe and Fortune, Wesley Shrum describes the performance style of the fringe as a “postmodern phantasm”: “Fringe has never meant outcast or pariah. As a modifier it’s wonderfully evocative, connoting creativity, scruffiness, oddity, scandal, frivolity, youthfulness, frothiness, and frippery… But it is also a frontier, a limit, a periphery” (64-65).  Looking at the model of fringe as postmodern phantasm and reading it alongside recognized postmodern art movements (Fluxus, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art), this paper positions fringe as a performance strategy and methodology. Here, opening night is not the end of the performance process, but the beginning; fringe is an art style that sees theatre as a material medium developed through performance.  

 Drawing on my experience teaching a fringe class this fall, I come to this topic as both a fringe artist and someone who is interested in the creation method of artists on the fringe (and how that method might be implemented in pedagogy). Curious to decouple fringe from words like “popular”, “non-professionalizing,” or even “amateur” this paper makes an argument for fringe as a postmodern performance methodology that can be implemented in pedagogy and community relationality. 

Shrum, Wesley. Fringe and fortune: The role of critics in high and popular art. Princeton University Press, 1996.

Thea Fitz-James, Queen’s University

Thea Fitz-James (she/her) is a theatre academic and practitioner. She holds a PhD in Performance Studies from York University and is an adjunct assistant professor at Queen’s University. She’s developed two solo shows which have toured the Fringe circuit internationally. She is a white, queer, ‘Mad’, cis-gendered settler. For more: https://www.theafitzjames.com/ 

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Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Recovering In the Land of the Spirits (1988/1992)

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Bridget Cauthery

Panelists:  Emma Hassencahl-Perley (New Brunswick School of Craft & Design); Amy Hull (York University); Rena Roussin (University of Toronto)

Amy Hull, “Murder We Wrote: Deaths and Resurrections of Indigenous Women in Canadian Ballets”

Rena Roussin, “A Tale of Two Composers: John Kim Bell, Miklos Massey and the score for In the Land of the Spirits”

Emma Hassencahl-Perley, “A Sign of the Times: Maxine Noel and In the Land of the Spirits”

Event Details and Description

Curator: Bridget Cauthery

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Panelists:  Emma Hassencahl-Perley (New Brunswick School of Craft & Design); Amy Hull (York University); Rena Roussin (University of Toronto)

Described as a “the first ballet ever conceived and mounted with the express intent of involving as many artists of native descent as possible” (Rowe 1988), In the Land of the Spirits had its premiere at the National Art Centre in Ottawa in 1988. Based on an Ojibway creation myth, the work was conceived and produced by John Kim Bell (Mohawk) and the Canadian Native Arts Foundation. Bell, the first Indigenous artist to become a symphony orchestra conductor, conceived this project as the first step in establishing a professional company of Indigenous ballet dancers devoted to developing and mounting works by Indigenous artists. Yet, despite the well-received premiere in November 1988 and subsequent four-city Canadian tour in 1992, In the Land of the Spirits faded from cultural records and the proposed company did not materialize.

The three papers in this panel in turn address the narrative, set and costume design, and score for In the Land of the Spirits. Collectively they bring together the ballet’s components in an effort to locate, resituate and preserve a neglected piece of the historical record of Indigenous-settler dance performance on Turtle Island. Together, these papers ask who has the authority to inform and sustain cultural memory, and why certain works achieve longevity while others are overlooked. Furthermore, this inquiry acknowledges ballet’s place on the stage of European imperialism while considering how “alternative or parallel overviews of ballet revise colonial hierarchies and offer networks of humanity” (Akinleye 2021).

Murder We Wrote: Deaths and Resurrections of Indigenous Women in Canadian Ballets

Drawing on the lineage of Canadian ballets in the 20th and 21st centuries that feature Indigenous stories, themes, and characters, Amy Hull considers In the Land of the Spirit’s libretto in light of the necropolitics of fictionalized Indigenous death – particularly of Indigenous women. The creators of Indigenous or Indigenous-themed ballets consistently center on Indigenous female characters created by Indigenous or White men. Why do these ballet artists feel the need to ‘speak’ through ventriloquized women? And how might a ballet that is Indigenous-led reinforce certain tropes while resisting others? Hull will also consider the ways in which the libretto changed from the original script through two subsequent iterations.

Amy Hull, York University

Amy Hull is a Mi’kmaw and Inuk PhD student in Communication and Culture, a joint program between York University and Toronto Metropolitan University. Her research uses non-Indigenous-led artistic representations of Indigenous death as an entrypoint into questions of Canadian identity formation, and the necropolitical relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state. Her background is in Dance Studies, having received her MA Dance and BFA Hons. Dance, Performance and Choreography, from York University. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honors Society, and a recipient of the Susan Crocker and John Hunkin Award in the Fine Arts, as well as the Dr. Allen T. Lambert Scholars Award.  Hull has held multiple positions including Guest Editor of The Dance Current magazine and Research Associate at the Laboratory for Artistic Intelligence, and has worked with dance and circus companies in Canada and abroad, including Balancing on the Edge and AVA Dance company. Amy is also a death doula, having graduated from both Alua Arthur’s Going with Grace End of Life Training Program, and the Institute of Traditional Medicine’s Contemplative End of Life Care program.

A Tale of Two Composers: John Kim Bell, Miklos Massey and the score for In the Land of the Spirits

Rena Roussin will present an historically empathetic understanding of John Kim Bell and Miklos Massey’s score for In the Land of the Spirits and how the music responds to contemporary cultural policies. Though it may not have “aged well,” Roussin considers how the score was received by the public and how it interacts with broader Indigenous musical cultures of the time. Roussin will also discuss the relationship between the ballet’s text and music, how the music responds to and interpolates the narrative, and how the music influences the movement of the piece. Given questions regarding the provenance of the score, such questions will address the difficulties inherent in co-composition between settler and Indigenous artists.

Rena Roussin, University of Toronto

Rena Roussin is a doctoral candidate in Musicology at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation “Positioning Art Music(ology): Histories, Institutions, Narratives” draws on concepts of disability history and justice, anti-coloniality, and EDI models to examine the genre and academic discipline’s historic and contemporary relationships to social justice and activism. Rena’s publications appear in Intersections, Musicological Explorations, and the Bloomsbury Handbook of Music and Art. In addition to her academic work, Rena is committed to public musicology and applied work in arts-based activism. To that end, she serves as musicologist-in-residence for the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, is a member of the Canadian Opera Company’s Indigenous Circle of Artists advisory board, and recently curated an Indigenous-led concert series for Soundstreams Toronto.

A Sign of the Times: Maxine Noel and In the Land of the Spirits

Mary Kerr and Maxine Noel’s set and costume designs for In the Land of the Spirits emerged towards the end of the Indian Women’s Movement of the 1980s and on the cusp the Indigenous Cultural Renaissance of the 1990s. Emma Hassencahl-Perley situates In the Land of the Spirits in the sociopolitical climate of the times, and asks how the 1988 ballet sets the tone for what came after. In addition to creating and expanding on a visual archive for In the Land of the Spirits and for co-designer Noel (Sioux) herself, Hassencahl-Perley contextualizes the ballet’s design in terms of both pan-Indianism and a critique of the American Indian movement. Thinking in particular of Noel, Hassencahl-Perley is curious about why Indigenous women artists are so frequently sidelined in creative histories, and how In the Land of the Spirits is a forgotten hallmark of Indigenous artistic production.

Emma Hassencahl-Perley, Beaverbrook Art Gallery/New Brunswick College of Craft and Design

Emma Hassencahl-Perley is Wolastoqiyik from Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), New Brunswick. She is a visual artist whose mediums include beadwork, murals, and digital illustration. Through material and visual culture, Emma considers her identity as an ehpit (woman) and Wolastoqwiw citizen of the Wabanaki (People of the Dawn) Confederacy. Each area of the artist’s work takes inspiration from the Wabanaki double-curve motif, a mirrored, double-c, curvilinear form often found beaded onto 19th-century textiles or etched into birchbark art objects. Her art seeks to build upon an archive of visual storytelling from her nation through water, Wabanaki feminisms, and the double-curve, symbolizing relationships, community, and non-human beings.Emma holds a Bachelor of Fine Art from Mount Allison University (’17) and a Master of Art in Art History (’22) from Concordia University. Emma is the adjunct Curator of Indigenous Art at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton and an instructor in the Wabanaki Visual Art Program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Emma’s research interests lie within Indigenous Art History, Indigenous Feminisms, Craft and Textile History, Wabanaki Iconography, Oral History, and Decolonial Theory.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Social Justice and Performance I

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Fraser Stevens

Larry Ng, “Being Underground in Public as Silent Resistance and Critique: Using “invisible site-specific immersive theatre” to reclaim space and unseal buried/forgotten histories of place”

Adenekan Lanre Qasim, “Performing Social Justice on the Nigerian Stage: A Post-dramatic Theatre Approach”

Rebecca Struch, “Spacemaking/Spacetaking: Staging Colonial Alchemy in Site-Specific Performance”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Fraser Stevens

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Being Underground in Public as Silent Resistance and Critique: Using “invisible site-specific immersive theatre” to reclaim space and unseal buried/forgotten histories of place

In a highly financialized capitalist city like Hong Kong, “public” spaces are largely privatized by developers/owners of shopping malls and estates. The city is built commercially according to designs that keep people moving in public areas unless they stop as a customer. 

In such a city, theoretically, site-specific art-based practices in public areas can function as affective-social interventions for criticizing the neoliberal space-politics, re-imagining city design towards spatial justice, and remembering voices/stories/life-style erased by the capitalist monologue of progressive myth. However, practically, the privatization of public space make such interventions impossible, because performance/art activity in those “open/public areas” requires application for permission, which “space-owners” mostly reject with excuses like “disturbing the public/retail business”. 

Accordingly, the author devised site-specific immersive theatre projects in different public sites, without applying for permission but performed “invisibly”—only visible to audiences with audio-tour system telling them not only the stories of the place but also where the actors/characters were among pedestrians and which actors/characters to follow for traveling through the site. 

This paper reflects upon two of them, one happened in a shopping mall, exploring capitalistic work ethics, consumerism and space-politics, while the other in a touristic site with a history of fisherman community eliminated during urban development, analyzing both the performance and methodology of the creative process that required an investigation into the concrete power operation of governance and commodification, and showing how symbolic imageries and fictional stories were used to re-open spectators’ spatial sense colonized by the capitalist monologue, somatically, affectively and conceptually. 

Larry Ng, University of Toronto

Larry Ng is a registered drama therapist and an artist, trained in physical theatre and mime. He practices also different applied theatres. He has a MPhil in Philosophy, a Master in Drama Education, and is currently a MA student in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies in the University of Toronto.

Performing Social Justice on the Nigerian Stage: A Post-dramatic Theatre Approach

This paper explains how I adapted Hans-Thies Lehmann’s notion of Post-dramatic theatre to ‘retell’ Ola Rotimi’s play, Hopes of the Living Dead. Hans-Thies Lehmann, a German philosopher and dramatist de-emphasizes the centrality of “drama” (script) in rendering the message of a performance, thus equating its significance to other media in a performance. It is, therefore, on this premise, I reassessed my vision of staging Ola Rotimi’s Hopes of the Living Dead not just as a performance on social justice, but also a forum for socio-political activism. Consequently, this paper intends to provide answers to the research questions which are: how did the performance resonate with social justice? How did the staging of Hopes of the Living Dead make it a performance of socio-political activism? How did the use of Hans-Thies Lehmann Post-dramatic theatre implicate the directorial vision, approach and techniques of staging the performance as a space for initiating social change? 

Adenekan Lanre Qasim, Bayero University, Kano

Adenekan Lanre Qasim is a Scholar-Artist and a lecturer at the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts department, Faculty of Communication, Bayero University Kano, and an associate researcher with Theatre Emissary. He is passionate about using drama/ theatre for social engineering and advocacy.

Spacemaking/Spacetaking: Staging Colonial Alchemy in Site-Specific Performance

The idea that space is socially produced, rather than naturally occurring, anchors the “spatial turn” and continues to serve as an animating logic for site-specific performances that attempt to stage justice. Western chronologies typically begin with Henri Lefebvre’s work to make this argument. However, by prioritizing processes of social production, processes of social destruction (like processes of colonization) remain under-acknowledged. In response, this paper moves away from white, Western spatial theories focused on spacemaking in order to probe the stakes of, and alternatives to, spacetaking.

To do so, I turn to The Industry’s site-specific opera about U.S. colonization, Sweet Land, staged in 2020 in the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The performance stages ongoing histories of colonial spacetaking by remapping the park site as an accumulation of specificities – of conflicting land claims, histories, bodies, and memories. The opera toggles between fever dreams and waking nightmares to untangle and interrogate the ongoing project of settler colonialism in the U.S. Through interdisciplinary engagement with theories of (dis)possession and (de)colonial haunting from critical Indigenous studies, I revise and complicate the spectral grammars commonly used within site-specific performance praxis – “host” and “ghost”. My revision highlights that, very materially, the sites that anchor site-specific performance in the U.S. are, among many other things, sites of dispossession.

This paper is drawn from a larger project that moves from a universal understanding of space as an essential element of all performance practice to a situated understanding of space as workable terrain for more just futures.

Rebecca Struch, University of California – Berkeley

Rebecca Struch centers social justice and community engagement as an artist, scholar, educator, and cultural organizer. Her current research reorients theories and practices of site-specific performance around racial geographies, making antiracist and decolonial politics central to its questions of space and place. She is a PhD Candidate in Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Black Theatre and Performance

Location: Room 0030 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Naila Keleta-Mae

Alisha Grech, “Imagining Justice: The Transformative Power of ‘Say Her Name: The Lives That Should’ve Been”

Jacqueline Taucar, ” “Pretty” Political – The Black Joy and Resistance of Caribbean Carnival Costumes”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Naila Keleta-Mae

Location: Room 0030 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Imagining Justice: The Transformative Power of ‘Say Her Name: The Lives That Should’ve Been

“Beginnings and endings are all just boundaries… People assume their journeys are linear and predictable… Sometimes I think sideways. Or in directions we don’t have words for.”

– Nee Nee, Say Her Name: The Lives That Should’ve Been

As the proscenium stage of the Hammer Museum’s auditorium fades to darkness, a palpable sense of anticipation envelops the audience. The performers of “Say Her Name: The Lives That Should Have Been” take their seats, not for a traditional theatrical reading, but to unfold a narrative that challenges the very fabric of justice. This paper delves into the transformative power of this performance, rooted in the #SayHerName movement, in reimagining justice for Black women like Korryn Gaines, Kayla Moore, Tanisha Anderson, Shelly Frey, India Kager, and Michelle Cusseaux; Black women who were brutally killed by police officers.

By focusing on “SayHerName: The Lives that Should Have Been”, this study explores how performance transcends mere representation of victims of police violence. Instead, this performance re-centres their narratives, projecting not only their lived experiences but also the futures that they were denied, through the lens (and testimony) of family members left behind.

This performance emerges as a critical tool in the quest for racial justice, offering a unique perspective on how theatre, as an artistic and medium for social commentary, can be instrumental in shaping a vision of justice that extends beyond the recounting of violence. 

Here, the stage becomes a conduit for societal change, advocating for a future where such tragedies are not only acknowledged but also prevented. This paper, therefore, positions “SayHerName: The Lives that Should Have Been” as a pivotal artistic endeavour in the ongoing discourse of justice and transformation.

Alisha Grech, University of Toronto

Alisha Grech (she/they) is a PhD Candidate at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Presently, Alisha’s research examines the presence of “defaulted” gender performativity in the United States, and it’s perpetuation of not only stereotypes, but also acts of violence against women of colour. 

“Pretty” Political – The Black Joy and Resistance of Caribbean Carnival Costumes

The rise in women’s participation in Carnival in the Caribbean and abroad over the last four decades has significantly transformed and challenged traditional costuming practices that enacted narratives and characters, largely designed, and performed by men, in response to their experience of colonial oppression and post-emancipation freedom. This paper explores the contested and complicated politics of “pretty mas” as a costume practice that has proliferated wherever Carnival is performed in the Atlantic world. While the aesthetic concern of pretty mas for feminine beauty, joy, and pleasure is rarely considered for doing the “serious work” of anti-oppression and racial justice (see Renie 2003, Henry & Plaza 2020 and more), shifting the critical focus from what costumes mean towards what costumes can do opens new perspectives to examine how “prettiness” in costumes affectively transform how Black and Brown women know and feel the raced and gendered Caribbean body. Using the theoretical frameworks of Audre Lorde and adreinne marie brown, I will open a critical feminist analysis on the ways pretty mas can operate as a material-affective scenographic strategy of Black (and Brown) Joy for women of Caribbean descent. In doing so, I seek to establish a more nuanced understanding of women’s agency in Carnival that opens a new perspective to consider how pretty mas can become a location of a critical black feminist praxis to imagine less restrictive ways of being, thinking and feeling for women of Caribbean descent.

Jacqueline Taucar

Jacqueline Taucar is an independent researcher and Caribbean Carnival mas maker with a PhD from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. She builds Caribbean Carnival costumes with Michelle Reyes, designer/performer of Saldenah Carnival’s Queen Mas. Currently, Jacqueline is working with Toronto’s community of Carnival artists to establish an archival infrastructure for documenting and preserving the primary materials and oral traditions that inform the design, creation, and performance of Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival costumes.

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Break – 15 minutes

19:00 – 00:00 EDT

Graduate & Precarious Scholar Social

Location: TBA

In-Person Event

Event Details and Description

Location: TBA

In-Person Event

Join us off-campus for an evening of fun, refreshments, and great conversation! This informal event is FREE, and is open to graduate students and precarious scholars attending CATR in person this year. More details to be announced soon!”

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Wednesday, June 19

09:00 – 18:00 EDT

Quiet Room – June 19

Location: Room 1207 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1207 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

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10:00 – 14:00 EDT

Publisher’s Kiosks – June 19

Publisher’s Kiosks will be open for business in Room B-236F – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

Event Details and Description

Publisher’s Kiosks will be open for business in Room B-236F – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

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Keywords

09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Leading With Performance: Interdisciplinary Arts-Led Innovations Inside the Neoliberal University”

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal 

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Organizers: Kim Solga, Amala Poli, and Masha Kouznetsova

 

Event Details and Description

Organizers: Kim Solga, Amala Poli, and Masha Kouznetsova

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal 

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Scholars of theatre and performance studies know that performance is a “mobile critical paradigm,” as Kathleen Gallagher and Barry Freeman provocatively write in the introduction to In Defense of Theatre (2015). Our deep familiarity with performance’s power as a cross-disciplinary learning modality, however, means we can easily forget that this isn’t common knowledge. We know that working through performance can lead to everything from technical innovation and social change to increased individual and community wellbeing; the leaders of our major institutions – including our universities – often have no clue.

Over the last three years we have been engaged in a campus-based teaching research project that begins from the premise that performing arts-led, interdisciplinary teaching can have profound real-world benefits for undergraduate students from a wide range of fields. Our project ran a pilot class with 18 students from 7 of Western’s 13 faculties in 2022-23, and our data from their experience underscores how utterly transformative the class was for all of them – especially those from STEM backgrounds.

We’re thrilled at what we’ve achieved so far, but we also know we aren’t alone: many of us are working to integrate performance into broader curricular change across the country. In this roundtable, we will gather a mix of those voices to hear what you are doing, how you are doing it, and (especially) how you are communicating performance’s powers to innovate across fields and to support students, faculty, staff, and community wellbeing to those who need most to hear about it.

Kim Solga is Professor of Theatre Studies at Western University. From 2021-24 she held the Arts and Humanities Teaching Fellowship in Western’s Centre for Teaching and Learning. From 2021-23, she held one of four Experiential Learning Innovation Scholarships at Western, which sponsored the research that frames this roundtable.

Amala Poli Amala Poli is a PhD candidate in English at Western University and the author of Writing the Self in Illness (2019). She is a health humanities scholar, whose doctoral research examines the relevance of sleep paralysis narratives in the contemporary sleep crisis. Her other areas of interest include how creativity and community-engaged learning can foster wellbeing at universities. 

Masha Kouznetsova is PhD Candidate in Art and Visual Culture at Western University. She received her MFA in Visual Arts in 2023 at Western University and her BFA in Studio Art in 2012 at Georgia State University. From 2012-2021, she lived in San Francisco, CA where she taught art in a private high school, worked as a museum educator, and practiced visual art.

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Justice, Policing, and Theatre on the Prairies

Location: Room 1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Taiwo Afolabi

Panelists: Gbenga Adedeji, Taiwo Afolabi, Aziz Douai, Gabriel Friday, Victory Uchenna

Sponsored by the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre and the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre, C-SET

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Taiwo Afolabi

Location: Room 1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre and the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre, C-SET

This Roundtable presents research at the intersection of policing and performance. Developed within the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre research foci, each project presented investigates critical issues around policing in Canada and Nigeria. Projects evaluate the theoretical and methodological perspectives employed within the interdisciplinary field of race, media and the justice system. Through the use of creative practices and empirical inquiry, research documents and analyzes experiences of policing in Soro Soke, Nigeria’s renowned protest against police brutality, Black adolescents’ perception of policing in Saskatchewan, and issues around police reform.

Bios: 

Dr. Aziz Douai is the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Regina. Dr. Douai holds a PhD in Mass Communications from Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Science in Advertising from Boston University, and has lectured on global communication issues in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Dr. Douai is a Founding Member of the Center on Hate, Bias and Extremism, a Senior Research Affiliate at the Canadian Research Network for Terrorism, Security & Society, and a member of the Digital Life Institute.

Gabriel Friday is a research team member at the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre. He is currently undertaking his master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Program in Media and Artistic Research at the University of Regina. His research focuses on artivism and policing in Nigeria and Canada.

Victory Uchenna is a master’s student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Media and Artistic Research at the University of Regina and a member of the research cluster at the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre. Her research investigates Black adolescents’ perception of police in Saskatchewan.

Gbenga Adedeji is a journalist and a graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts at the University of Regina. His research analyzes the impact of media coverage on police reforms in Nigeria.

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi holds the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre, is the Director of the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre (C-SET), and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre, Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance at the University of Regina. His research is at the intersection of performance and human ecology. His CRC program investigates issues of policing, art and well-being, immigration and the creative sector, among others.

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Social Justice and Performance II

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by Department of Theatre and Film – University of Winnipeg

Moderator: Ian Garrett

Hope McIntyre & Carolin Schroeder, “Redressing Inequities: Who Is Responsible?”

Donia Mounsef, “Occupy Die-versity: Cultural Appropriation, Othering, and Social Justice”

Ihouma Okorie, “Performing Cultural and Religious Justice through the Transformational Directorial Approach: Juxtaposing the Playtext and the Performance of “Attahiru” “

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Ian Garrett

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by Department of Theatre and Film – University of Winnipeg

Redressing Inequities: Who Is Responsible?

Over the last year and a half, we have created an open-source textbook entitled “The Business of Theatre: Pathways to a Career in Theatre”. It includes interviews with theatre professionals, article contributions, and an extensive list of resources. In the final stages of editing, recent theatre graduates, who could best speak to the books efficacy for theatre students, reviewed and provided feedback. 

The response was surprising and in some cases it was a deeply emotional. Many speaking about the weight on their shoulders to fix the unjust theatre industry. Much discussion had occurred during the preparation of the book around preparing students for the current industry, as well as the changing industry, and the wished for equitable and just future industry. Developing critical thought in students so that they can assess for themselves what is or is not working, question the status quo, and be change-makers seemed like the solution. 

This paper will present information on the final book creation, which includes various perspectives around justice and how the theatre milieu is continuing to engage in injustice. In addition, we will explore the response to the question of shared responsibility for redressing inequities. How do we respond to recent shifts and overdue calls for change while working in solidarity across generations? In particular, how do we manage the mess emerging practitioners feel they now have to fix. How can the change work done to date be recognized by the next generation and built upon? How does this change what and how we teach?

Hope McIntyre & Carolin Schroeder, University of Winnipeg

Hope McIntyre is an award winning playwright/director and Associate Professor at the University of Winnipeg. She has a BFA in performance and an MFA in directing. After completing an apprenticeship in England, she worked for a commercial producer and managed an arts school in Toronto. She was Artistic Director of Sarasvàti Productions for 22 years. 

Carolin Schroeder is an emerging Stage Manager and Theatre Maker. Born and raised in Germany, Carolin has been calling Canada home since 2017. After gaining work experience as arts administrator and production coordinator, she enrolled at the University of Winnipeg. Carolin is currently completing a BA Honours degree in Production & Stage Management.

Occupy Die-versity: Cultural Appropriation, Othering, and Social Justice

Multiple scandals of cultural appropriation, fabricated identity, and “pretendianism” have rocked the Canadian (and American) artistic and theatrical scene – the most recent being the fall from grace of iconic singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. Sorting through questions of appropriation of identities and representation are complex to say the least as they often bring out thorny issues of identity theft, colonization, and fake diversity at the intersection of race, gender, and class. This paper deals with a critique of identity and cultural appropriation in theatre and performance from a perspective of social and political justice. Cultural, racial, and gendered appropriation are at the forefront of the discussion of identity in the theatre and performance because the neoliberal discourse of “dialogue of cultures” and the “right of anyone to play anyone” are no longer suitable to address the imbalance of power occasioned by unfettered representability. 

How do we address recent questions of appropriation in the work of Robert Lepage (SLAV) and Ariane Mnouchkine’s (and Lepage’s) Kanata and others (Colleen Murphy’s The Breathing Hole) beyond questions of interculturalism and “its discontent” (Bharucha 1999). Can a social justice perspective help address cultural and identity appropriation as it weaponizes “othering”, and how faking diversity causes unprecedented harm (‘die-versity’). After analyzing the historical conditions of how appropriation has been central to the production of Canadian theatre and performance, this paper looks at the way these artists often double-down on their deluded identity or argue like Mnouchkine that “the art of the actor is precisely to become the other, Hamlet does not need to be Danish. I would say it’s better not to be”, or even Lepage’s statement: “When it is forbidden to identify with someone else,” theatre becomes “meaningless.” Meaningless for whom? Is there ever an ethical concern for justice when addressing appropriation? Is there such a theatre that can be at the same time a guarantor of meaning making for disenfranchised communities, an affirmative space for racialized or gendered identities without resorting to silencing, occupying, or appropriating?

Donia Mounsef, University of Alberta

Dr. Donia Mounsef is Professor of drama and performance studies at the University of Alberta. A performance theorist, playwright, and dramaturge, she is the author of Chair et révolte dans le théâtre de Bernard-Marie Koltès and the co-editor of Toxic Media Ecologies: Critical Responses to the Cultural Politics of Planetary Crises and “The Transparency of the Text” (Yale French Studies). She publishes widely on intermediality, the violence spectacle, water and performance, gender and protest. Her work appeared in Global Performance Studies, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Esprit Créateur, Yale Journal of Criticism, Women and Performance Journal, Féminismos, Journal of Global Studies and Contemporary Art, etc. She is currently working on a book length study on Transmediality and Biopolitics: En-Acting Digital Mediation in the Performing Arts.

Performing Cultural and Religious Justice through the Transformational Directorial Approach: Juxtaposing the Playtext and the Performance of “Attahiru”

This study examines the way justice is performed on stage using the Transformational Directorial Approach. Attahiru is a historical play which recounts the story of Attahiru, the then Caliph of the Sokoto caliphate; it tells the story of his rejection of the Whiteman’s culture and how he was eventually killed. In theatre scholarship, studies have been conducted which have given birth to the many approaches to directing  in the Nigerian theatre. However, most of these studies focus on film directors; as such, little attention is paid to the role of student directors and the influence of the environment in their directorial approach. This study examines the influence of place and environment in performing cultural and religious justice using the transformational directorial approach. It aims to explore the performance of Ahmed Yerima’s Attahiru (2023) in order to draw a comparison between the text and the performance in relation to the explication of cultural and religious justice. To achieve this aim, textual analysis is used by combining its important approaches: author-oriented approach and performance-oriented approach. The Post-dramatic theatre will be used to investigate the post-colonial resistance captured in the play, focusing on how the image of cultural and religious justice is constructed and reconstructed through performance. 

Ihouma Okorie, Bayero University Kano

Ihuoma Okorie is a lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria. Ihuoma has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Theatre and Performing Arts. As a major in textual and performance analysis, she has published works in reputable journals and has attended several conferences which speaks to this area of interest. 

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Puppetry, Juggling, and the Performance Commons: Approaches to Climate Justice in/through Performance

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of English Language and Literature – Carleton University

Curator: Denise Rogers Valenzuela

Panelists: Denise Rogers Valenzuela,  Morgan Anderson, David Fancy

Event Details and Description

Curator: Denise Rogers Valenzuela

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of English Language and Literature – Carleton University

Mastery is understood, at the intersection of decolonial and critical posthumanist new materialist discourses, to be integral to a dynamic that would carve identitarian boundaries between things, so that “what is on one side of a border [is subordinated] to the power of what is on the other” (Singh, Unthinking Mastery 13). In this panel, we acknowledge that the Anthropocene—a moniker offered for the current geological age in which human actions are understood to be chiefly responsible for the planet’s changing climate—was consolidated in the Industrial Revolution via boundary carvings that emphasise human mastery: society/nature, active/passive, human/object, mind/body, thinking/doing. Such dispositions, ultimately and fundamentally speciesist in nature, set the stage for supremacist power relations that fuel a colonial, racist, sexist, ableist, and extractive capitalist status quo. To complicate such reductively binarizing and hierarchical oppositions in Western thought, the presenters on this panel seek to collapse traditional academic distinctions between theory and practice to offer a set of praxical offerings in which each presenter’s arguments are developed in mutually constitutive, participatory, and material-discursive ways. We ask: How can specific performance practices, such as juggling, puppetry, or acting, enact increasingly ethical engagements with the other-than-human? How can a performance form’s unique ontological dynamics inform mutually sustainable relationships with the other-than-human in the world at large? And how might we reimagine these performance practices, as Fancy does in this panel, as having an affirmative capacity for agency that is unique to, and distributed across, what can be described as the ‘performance commons’?

To engage these questions, each of the presenters on this panel imagines justice to be constituted in part as an epiphenomenal result of critical posthumanist creative and artistic processes. Such processes explore and invite the expression of potentialities in performance, as well as in relations with audiences and communities, and as such can express, in neo-Spinozan terms, a transversal ethics of mutual emergence and care.

‘Juggling Notation as a Temporal Framework for Grappling with the Climate Crisis’

Juggling is conventionally described as throwing and catching more objects than you (a human) have hands. Due to this conventional description, juggling has historically been understood in terms of human mastery over the natural world. Inclusive social circus educator Craig Quat, though, argues that juggling shouldn’t be defined by its inaccessible physical expression. Conventional juggling practice is only possible because of “the relationships [juggling] allows us to form with… time” (Functional Juggling 17). In this paper I investigate how, in juggling, temporality acts as a mediator between juggler and prop, which are categories assigned to ontologically indeterminate beings through the phenomena of juggling as an intra-action (Barad, “Posthumanist Performativity”).

Juggling notation, called siteswap, does not make assumptions about the ontology of juggler(s) or prop(s), the physical expression of juggling (ex. throwing, rolling, etc.), or the context in which juggling happens (ex. the amount of gravity). In siteswap juggling, time is reciprocal and overlapping. Each beat in a siteswap simultaneously represents an action performed in the present and an action that will take place in the future. These temporal aspects of juggling make it a useful framework for grappling with the climate crisis in which present greenhouse gas emissions are also future concentrations in our atmosphere.

Ultimately, I argue that, to engage in climate justice, new temporal frameworks are needed. How does “juggling time” differ from other temporal experiences; for instance, chrononormativity (Freeman, Time Binds), disappearance (Phelan, Unmarked), or syncopated/theatrical time (Schneider, Performing Remains)?

Morgan Anderson, York University

Morgan Anderson is a hobbyist juggler and PhD candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. Her research focuses on the relationships between jugglers and their props. She is a member of the International Jugglers’ Association and Cirkus Syd, and co-founded the Limestone City Juggling Festival in 2014.

‘The performance commons, posthumanism, and the Anthropocene’

 Critical posthumanism imagines the ways in which humans and other-than-human entities alike are always already constituted by a range of inhuman forces: materialities, affects, and energies organized in assemblages that escape strict identitarian formulations. With such a move away from historically normative versions of a Western liberal individual subject, performance and politics are also invited to be thought differently. What constitutes what we call human performance from his perspective, and how do such performances engage performances of the other-than-human? With the decentralization of human subjectivity as a key locus of political agency, how do performances engaging the human and the other-than-human express the political in such a circumstance of redistributive perspectives on volition and agency? This paper makes a case for intensifying the influential notion of ‘the commons’ as articulated by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri with a specific focus on what I am calling ‘the performance commons.’ Hardt and Negri argue that the commons, as a kind of access to the world’s riches and wonders shared among all humans, precedes the emergence of late Modern distinctions between public and private property in bourgeois law that has lead to the becoming-resource of all the world in service to an ever ubiquitous capitalism. In order to contribute to moving beyond such capture, human performance, when pursued via an open-ended processual assemblage of the human and other-than-humans in a way that amplifies potentials for non-supremacist alliances and post-identitarian aesthetic experiences, can be understood to generate a rich network of relations of care, solidarity, love, and liberation: a performance commons. Performance events exploring the artistic collaboration between human and other-than-human forces will be featured.

David Fancy, Brock University

David Fancy, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts, Brock University. He publishes in the areas of performance and the climate crisis, performance and technology, and performance and inclusion. He is an experienced theatre maker.

‘The radicality of the potato people’

In The Radicality of the Puppet Theatre, Peter Schumann writes, “Puppets are not made to order or script. What’s in them is hidden in their faces and becomes clear only through their functioning.” (1990, 8) Schumann’s observation reveals that, contrary to popular use of the term “puppet,” puppets are not passive, docile things that readily bend to human control. Puppeteering is a relational practice that requires puppeteers to move with puppets instead of on or against them. By scrambling the presumed vertical power dynamic between subject and object, puppeteering can challenge the anthropocentric notion of human mastery over matter. But perhaps it can do more than that. 

In this paper, I focus on a set of puppets from Bread and Puppet Theater—the naked population puppets—to explore puppeteering as an instantiation of justice through human and more-than-human ethical relations. The puppets, nicknamed “potato people,” are semi-flat, papier-mâché puppets that often perform the role of a mass of people in Bread and Puppet’s shows. Based on my experience as a puppeteer working with these puppets in improvised group scenes, where there is no established leader and the main prompt is to follow one another, I examine the power dynamics and emergent relationships that arise to think about the ecosocial potentialities of performing in a collective with these puppets. I ask: How can destabilizing the proscenium stage’s spatial hierarchies and the ensuing relations of puppeteers and puppets be extrapolated to the urgent rethinking of relations that the climate catastrophe demands? 

Denise Rogers Valenzuela, York University

Denise Rogers Valenzuela is a Chilean puppeteer and Ph.D. candidate in Theater and Performance at York University. Her doctoral research focuses on puppetry and cardboard in relation to ecosocial crises. Denise works with Bread and Puppet Theater and is a founding member of puppet troupes Corrugated Spectacles and Teatro Ji.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

09:15 – 10:45 EDT

History and Archive II

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by Faculty of Fine Arts – University of Lethbridge

Moderator: Jennifer Schacker

Amanda Attrell, “Listening as Justice: Finding Lost Voices in Theatre Passe Muraille’s Archives”

Selena Couture, “Justice and Jurisdiction in the 1940s and 50s: Tactical Recognitions”

Heather Davis-Fisch, “Blackness, Performance, and Settler Colonialism on Vancouver Island, 1860-1871”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Jennifer Schacker

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by Faculty of Fine Arts – University of Lethbridge

Listening as Justice: Finding Lost Voices in Theatre Passe Muraille’s Archives

In my study of Linda Griffiths’s career, I created an archival methodology that enacts an interaction between the researcher and archival artifacts which in turn facilitates an encounter with the archived individual’s voice (“Listening”). In this paper, I ask how this embodied research methodology can transition from a study of personal papers to larger institutional records without a central creator’s voice. Drawing on both my feminist methodology of archival listening as well as Caswell and Cifor’s “ethics of care,” proposed in “From Human Rights to Feminist Ethics: Radical Empathy in the Archives,” I discuss two productions held in the Theatre Passe Muraille collection which contains “40 metres of textual and other materials” (Caswell and Cifor 25; Theatre Passe Muraille). This archive holds a myriad of voices who have yet to take centre stage in Canadian theatre historiographies.

In Shakespeare for Fun and Profit (1977) and The Passe Muraille Hamlet (1983) artists self-consciously play with Shakespeare’s work to depict the theatre company’s alternative philosophies and identity as alternate to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Historiographies of the alternative theatre movement in Canada have been criticized for too narrowly focusing on “a story of young rebellious men, of heroic male playwrights and directors who banded together to buck the establishment” (Levin ix). Indeed, archival traces of these productions contain many voices which contributed to the self-reflective presentation of Theatre Passe Muraille. Therefore, this research provides an opportunity to understand how women can be found in large institutional records of Canadian theatre history. The persistent need to search for women in Theatre Passe Muraille’s archives demonstrates that while scholars have found the “blindspots” of the alternative theatre movement we have not yet adequately attended to the individuals found there (Levin ix).

Works Cited

Attrell, Amanda. “Listening to Linda Griffiths: Heeding to the Archives of an Emblematic Voice in Canadian Theatre.” Theatre Research in Canada, Advance Access 2023.

Caswell, Michelle, and Marika Cifor. “From Human Rights to Feminist Ethics: Radical Empathy in the Archives.” Archivaria, vol. 81, Spring 2016, pp. 23–43.

Levin, Laura. “Introduction.” Theatre and Performance in Toronto, edited by Laura Levin, Playwrights Canada Press, 2011, pp. vii–xvi.

Theatre Passe Muraille. https://www.lib.uoguelph.ca/archives/our-collections/lw-conolly-theatre-archives/theatre-passe-muraille/.

Amanda Attrell, York University

Amanda Attrell is a sessional lecturer at Glendon College, York University. She completed her PhD in English at York University in 2021. Her work appears in Linda Griffiths and is forthcoming in Theatre Research in Canada. Her research weaves together Canadian theatre history, feminist historiographical revisioning, and archival research.

Justice and Jurisdiction in the 1940s and 50s: Tactical Recognitions

This paper is engaged with tactics used in the 1940s and 1950s by Indigenous and Black people to provisionally acknowledge the authority of Canadian federal committees and the United Nations to adjudicate cases of systemic injustices and demand remedy. In the aftermath of World War II, widespread reflection on human rights abuses resulted at the international level in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the UN in 1948) and in the Canadian context the Special Joint Committee on the Indian Act (1946-48) which resulted in the 1951 Indian Act revision lifting the ban on performance and the filing of land claims, (as well as other commissions that sought to articulate and legitimize Canadian culture). 

Selena Couture, University of Alberta

Dr. Selena Couture is a white settler scholar and an associate professor at U of Alberta in Treaty 6 territory / Métis Region No.4. Publications include, Against the Current and Into the Light and On this Patch of Grass. She is a co-director of the Ecologies research cluster with Hemispheric Encounters.

Blackness, Performance, and Settler Colonialism on Vancouver Island, 1860-1871

This paper will explore the question of how the complex and intersectional position of Black settlers on Vancouver Island in the 1860s was navigated in and through theatrical and extra-theatrical performances. Drawing on Lowman and Barker’s work on intersectionality within settler colonialism, the paper will dig into the nuances of Black settlement on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and the ways performances managed—or failed to manage–social anxieties and White supremacy in the emergent colony. The presentation will consider periodical records accounting for anti-Black theatre riots that occurred in 1860 and 1861 Victoria, which occurred when Black spectators attempted to take up seats in theatres reserved for White audiences. Following this, I will turn my attention to minstrel performance, analyzing how the specificities of Black settler experience and perceptions of Black settlers might have been addressed, worked through, or strategically “managed” through minstrel performances. 

This presentation is part of a larger project considering how British Columbia transitioned from an Indigenous territory with a (retrospectively) minimal and transitory European presence to a settler-colony premised on the inter-related objectives of seizing lands from Indigenous peoples and permanent settlement. In order to understand how the transition to a settler-colonial society took place, we must consider how in becoming settlers, newcomers enacted, refined, and reiterated their understandings of themselves in relation to the lands on which they found themselves and to the Indigenous peoples who already lived on the lands. The nineteenth century, in western Europe and North America, has been described as the “performing century,” with theatre and performance cultures “intricately connected to abiding social and imaginative formations” (Davis and Holland 7). In this context, I am situating embodied and rhetorical performances by newcomers/settlers as complex cultural actions that were critical to the transformation of the territory into a settler-colony. Black settlers occupy a specific position within this paradigm, as both participants in settler colonialism and as systematically excluded from many of its privileges; this presentation seeks to discuss some of these nuances through analysis of two case studies.

Heather Davis-Fisch, University of Lethbridge

Heather Davis-Fisch is a Professor in the Drama department and the Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Lethbridge. 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

11:00 – 12:30 EDT

Keynote: Yasmine Kandil

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Speaker: Yasmine Kandil

 

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

CATR 2024 Conference Keynote

Dr. Yasmine Kandil

Relational Models of Staging Justice through Celebratory Theatre

This presentation is about research that addresses the immediate needs of under-represented communities, which calls for a shift in practice from one that focuses on hardships to a celebratory approach that recognizes the strengths of communities.  When transferred to educational programs, these approaches morph to address white supremacy and systemic barriers to decolonizing curricula.  

This presentation will showcase the processes and outcomes of two long-term projects: the Staging Equality project (developed and implemented at the University of Victoria) and the Celebratory Theatre model (a SSHRC-funded project developed in community-based work in Saint Catherines, and expanded to include not-for-profit organizations in Victoria and partners from Psychology, Curriculum & Instruction, and  Educational Psychology & Leadership Studies at the University of Victoria).  Both projects begin to plant seeds into imagining a relational model for teaching, learning (Lalonde 2023) and practice.

List of Works Cited:

Lalonde, Solange. “The Relational Model for Teaching and Learning: An Approach to 

Curriculum Design.” Truth and Reconciliation through Education: Stories of Decolonizing Practices. Yvonne Poitras Pratt & Sulyn Bodnaresko, Eds.  Brush Education Inc., 2023, pp.43-52.

Modèles relationnels de mise en scène de la justice par le théâtre commémoratif

Nous présenterons des travaux de recherche qui portent sur les besoins immédiats des communautés sous-représentées et qui invitent à transformer la pratique mettant l’accent sur les épreuves en une pratique commémorative reconnaissant les forces des communautés. Lorsque ces approches, qui s’attaquent à la suprématie blanche et aux barrières systémiques, sont utilisées dans des programmes d’études, elles permettent de décoloniser ces derniers.

Cette présentation expliquera les processus et les résultats de deux projets de longue durée : le projet Staging Equality (développé et mis en œuvre à l’Université de Victoria) et le projet de modèle de théâtre commémoratif, subventionné par le CRSH et réalisé en partenariat avec la communauté à Saint Catherines, puis élargi pour inclure des organisations sans but lucratif de Victoria et des partenaires en psychologie, en programmes et instruction et en psychologie éducative et études du leadership à l’Université de Victoria. Les résultats préliminaires des deux projets permettent d’envisager la création d’un modèle relationnel d’enseignement, d’apprentissage (Lalonde 2023) et de pratique.

Liste des ouvrages cités :

Lalonde, Solange. “The Relational Model for Teaching and Learning: An Approach to 

Curriculum Design.” Truth and Reconciliation through Education: Stories of Decolonizing Practices. Yvonne Poitras Pratt & Sulyn Bodnaresko, Eds.  Brush Education Inc., 2023, pp.43-52.

Presenter Bio:

Yasmine is Associate Professor of Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria.  She developed a model of practice, Celebratory Theatre, and is presently engaged in a SSHRC-funded project to empirically test its impact on racialized newcomer immigrants’ sense of belonging and social cohesion.  Her other works include the Staging Equality project to decolonize theatre programs in higher education and scenario-training for de-escalating police responses to people in mental health crisis. Her most recent scholarship is a RiDE Special themed issue on Race, Empathy and Representation (with Tim Prentki as co-editor), and the third edition of the award-winning text Applied Theatre: International Case Studies and Challenges for Practice (with co-editors Monica Prendergast & Juliana Saxton).

Biographie

Yasmine est professeure agrégée de théâtre appliqué à l’Université de Victoria.  Elle a développé un modèle de pratique, le théâtre commémoratif, et poursuit actuellement un projet financé par le CRSH pour tester empiriquement l’impact de ce modèle sur le sentiment d’appartenance et la cohésion sociale des nouveaux arrivants racialisés.  Parmi ses autres travaux, mentionnons le projet Staging Equality visant à décoloniser les programmes de théâtre dans l’enseignement supérieur et la formation en scénarisation, dans le but de désamorcer les réactions de la police lorsqu’elle doit intervenir auprès de personnes ayant des problèmes de santé mentale vivant une situation de crise. Elle a aussi codirigé un numéro spécial thématique de RiDE sur la race, l’empathie et la représentation avec Tim Prentki et la troisième édition du livre primé Applied Theatre : International Case Studies and Challenges for Practice avec Monica Prendergast et Juliana Saxton.

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Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

12:45 – 14:15 EDT

Lunch hosted by Talon Books

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Event

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Event

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Curriculum Strategies: Building BA Theatre Programs in a Climate of Constraint

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Session organizers: Kimberley McLeod and Jenn Stephenson

Event Details and Description

Session organizers: Kimberley McLeod and Jenn Stephenson

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Two-Day Session, 2:30pm-5:45pm on June 19 & 20

In the face of financial constraint, arising from government underfunding of the postsecondary sector, it is essential that we continue to deliver high-quality student academic experiences. Purposeful, values-driven attention to curriculum structures is central to achieving this goal. 

This seminar centers on the questions: Why study and teach theatre now? How do we decide what is most important in the wake of decreasing resources? The session will provide a forum not only for sharing local contexts and challenges, but more importantly, will offer practical strategies and frameworks for curriculum decision-makers. 

Topics will include: 

• Preparing for, participating in, and responding to cyclical quality assurance processes

• Establishing alignment between program learning outcomes and curriculum architecture

• Using data to produce metrics of curriculum efficiency

• Creating short-term and long-term staffing/hiring plans that are aligned with curriculum

• Integrating and differentiating programs in the disciplinary landscape

• Communicating academic program visions to internal stakeholders like Deans, Provosts, Admissions and Recruitment to ensure necessary resourcing

This session is intended for faculty members who have (or expect to have in the future) roles concerned with curriculum development and revision, including Undergraduate Advisors, Undergraduate Chairs, Chairs of departmental academic planning or curriculum committees, Department Heads/Chairs, and Deans. Note that this session is specifically focused on undergraduate Bachelor of Arts (Honours) programs in theatre/theatre studies and drama, deliberately setting aside graduate programs as well as ‘conservatory’ Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. 

Session structure:

We would like to hold this seminar over 2 3-hour sessions at the in person portion of the conference. We anticipate this being mostly work sessions with the seminar participants only. We plan on having a mix of presentations by curricular chairs, deans and participants with experience working in quality assurance alongside breakout sessions in which participants can dig into specific issues of curricular planning. One hour of the seminar would be open to all conference participants. This hour will feature a discussion of how different programs across the country care for and update their curriculum. 

Preparation for the session:

Participants will respond to a series of self-reflexive questions and also participate in a shared document that breaks down different aspects of BA Theatre curricula across the country. Participants will also prepare short remarks on specific topics (dependent on what areas of curricula they have experience with).

Kimberley McLeod, University of Guelph

Kimberley McLeod is associate professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

Jenn Stephenson, Queen’s University

Jenn Stephenson is professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University and Associate Dean (Academic) Faculty of Arts and Science. 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Theatricality and Anti-Theatricality

Location: Room 1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – York University

Moderator:

David Fancy, “Performative Activism and the Anti-theatrical Prejudice”

Jayna Mees, “Activating the ‘Hypersurface’: Building Community With(in) and Across Virtual Spaces”

Marlis Schweitzer, “Beware PERFORMANCE: Radical transparency, anti-theatricality, and the (im)possibility of staging truth”

Event Details and Description

Moderator:

Location: Room 1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – York University

Performative Activism and the Anti-theatrical Prejudice

The question of what constitutes legitimate expressions of progressive activism is of significant concern to those pursuing equity-seeking agendas. A key metric of legitimacy for current equity-seeking activist practice is that of authenticity – often framed in terms of whether expressions of outrage, critique, and solidarity are ‘performative’ or not, whether one is capably supporting a cause as a legitimate ally or simply increasing one’s cultural capital. This paper investigates a central tension of such considerations, namely that when ‘performative’ is used in its adjectival mode (relating to or marked by public, often artistic performance) as a derogation implying lack of authenticity, a long history of suspicion of the theatrical, of Barish’s (1980) notion of the anti-theatrical prejudice, is invoked. Using examples drawn from contemporary activist practice around decolonization and climate justice, I will explore how a reality implied by such a designation is the possibility of a diametrically opposed, essential, and unmediated expression of solidarity, resistance, and/or concern, necessarily moored in a structurally analogous essentialized subject – itself also available for capture into immaterial economies of personal cultural capital. Additionally, there is something curiously discordant about the term ‘performative activism’ for those of us in theatre and performance circles insofar as what follows from this statement is that activism employing conscious use of public, often artistic performance is necessarily relegated to a subsidiary and ontologically inferior status than other modes of activism. The paper wonders if the notion of ‘performative activism’ can be recuperated through further elaboration of the various lineages of what the term ‘performative’ can mean and do.

David Fancy, Brock University

David Fancy, PhD in Professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University. He publishes in areas of performance and philosophy, performance and climate justice, and performance and equity.

Activating the ‘Hypersurface’: Building Community With(in) and Across Virtual Spaces

With the emergence of virtual reality (VR), the concept of ‘theatricality,’ and the potential for immersive storytelling within theatrical frameworks is being challenged, questioned, and explored anew. Among the many innovations afforded by VR, the element that I will explore in this paper is the political/dramaturgical potential of what Gabriella Giannachi calls the “hypersurface”, to establish sites of disability activism. According to Giannachi, the “hypersurface” is a liminal site of exchange produced through entanglements between the “real” and the virtual, and that enables the spectator to simultaneously be “present in the work [of art] and verfremdt estranged from it” (95). While some attention has been paid to the design and storytelling possibilities afforded in VR, few have considered how VR’s unique capacity to facilitate social exchanges across the “real” and the virtual has the potential to subvert ableist structures of power, or to produce alternate modes of participation within immersive performance. In my paper, I will examine the political possibilities, as well as limitations of VR spectatorship in Joe Jack et John’s 2018 VR installation: VIOLETTE, which engages neurodiverse, female-identifying artists to explore how VR might function, not only as a medium for immersive storytelling, but also as a powerful site of transgression and community-building. In my analysis, I will consider the following: How might spectatorial engagements with the “hypersurface” offer more inclusive modes of structuring immersion? In what ways does the “hypersurface” enhance or create other barriers? How might it offer new ways of thinking through collective/individual identity with(in)/across virtual and “real” environments?

Jayna Mees, York University

Jayna Mees (she/her) is an artist-scholar whose current doctoral research at York University examines access aesthetics, practices, and politics within digital and virtual forms of immersive performance. Some recent projects include: accessibility coordinator for the SummerWorks Performance Festival (2021 -22), and assistant dramaturg for SpiderWebShow’s VR production of You Should Have Stayed Home (2022).

Beware PERFORMANCE: Radical transparency, anti-theatricality, and the (im)possibility of staging truth

Building on recent conversations about theatricality and theatre of the real, this paper traces the long history of radical transparency as a both material practice and performance strategy that promises to make “dangerous” secrets public, without the consent of the exposed organization (government, corporation, etc.), in the interests of serving justice and the “greater good.” It begins with a series of transparency prints produced in 1760s London at the height of John Wilkes’ radical campaign to expose (what many believed to be) the corruption of then-Prime Minister Lord Bute and his romantic and political partnership with the Dowager Princess Augusta, mother to George III. In print after print, Bute and Augusta are represented as performers – puppeteers, musicians, showmen, mountebanks – hiding behind screens or curtains to conduct their manipulative acts. Attending to the scriptive materiality of these prints, specifically to the way they guide viewers to hold the print up to a light source to discover the “secrets” beneath, this paper considers the complicated links between the promise of radical transparency (as modeled by Wilkes’ campaign), the prints’ deployment of anti-theatrical tropes, and, paradoxically, their reliance on the techniques of the lantern show to achieve their magical effect. From here, the paper turns to contemporary examples of plays that likewise trade in the language of radical transparency (e.g. Tina Satter’s “Is This a Room,” based on transcripts from the FBI’s interrogation of Reality Winner) to engage with larger questions about the (im)possibility of staging truth in pursuit of justice.

Marlis Schweitzer, York University

Marlis Schweitzer is Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at York University and a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Theatre and Performance History. Her 2020 book, “Bloody Tyrants and Little Pickles: Stage Roles of Anglo-American Girls in the Nineteenth Century,” received the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Indigenous Theatre and Performance III

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

Moderator: Ian Garrett

In-Person Session

Barry Freeman, “We Are Not the Rock(s): Settler hospitalities as moves to Indigeneity”

Jeff Gagnon, “Dramaturgies of Generosity: Community, Truth, and Reckoning in the Shadow of Settler Colonialism”

 

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Ian Garrett

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

We Are Not the Rock(s): Settler hospitalities as moves to Indigeneity 

From its opening number ,“Welcome to the Rock,” the internationally successful musical Come From Away introduces its audiences to a poetics of land long established in Newfoundland’s colonial imaginary. This poetics—within which resilient settlers with a tenuous purchase on the land are galvanized into cooperation and generous hospitality as a survival tactic in a hostile environment—was already manifest in the 19th-century travel literature of the pre-confederation Colony of Newfoundland. As the musical attests, representations of the hardy-but-happy islanders of “the rock” remain popular in performances of the island’s cultural nationhood today (O’Flaherty, Overton).  

I have argued previously that Come From Away can be understood as a projection of a tragedy that America was ready to confront (2018). Expanding this argument for a long-term scholarly memoir project, I want to go further to suggest that Come From Away is as well a picture—perhaps in the negative—of a tragedy that Newfoundland is less ready to confront. I take my cue from Alan Filewod’s shrewd observation two decades ago that the genocide of the Indigenous Beothuk people of the island “was the defining condition that permitted Newfoundlanders to feel that they were truly ‘of’ the land” (2002, 71). In this paper, I will bring in Ininiw scholar Megan Scribe’s recent theorization of “settler moves to Indigeneity,” (2023) to reflect on my affective experiences with both the musical and with rocks metaphoric and not, considering not so much how we got here, but where we are to go from here.

Barry Freeman, University of Toronto Scarborough

Barry Freeman is an Associate Professor of Theatre & Performance at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies at the University of Toronto.

Dramaturgies of Generosity: Community, Truth, and Reckoning in the Shadow of Settler Colonialism

In May of 2021, a survey of the grounds at Kamloops Indian Residential School via ground penetrating radar revealed what Dr. Sarah Beaulieu argued could be the graves of roughly 200 Indigenous children who died while in the school’s custody. In the wake of Beaulieu’s discovery, media discourse tended to be preoccupied with strict definitions of “mass graves” and with comparing the mortality rates of students in these schools against the broader population, discounting or downplaying, for instance, the state-sanctioned kidnapping of children as a direct symptom of the settler colonial project that is Canada.

Jeff Gagnon, University of Toronto

Jeff Gagnon is a Doctoral Graduate of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Queer Performance II

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of English – McGill University

Moderator: Conrad Alexandrowicz

Tyrone Grima, “Queer characters on the Maltese stage in the 1970s and 1980s”

Jenny Salisbury, “The Love Booth and Six Companion Plays: imagining a way forward through a staging of queer histories”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Conrad Alexandrowicz

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of English – McGill University

Queer characters on the Maltese stage in the 1970s and 1980s

This presentation will explore how queer characters were portrayed on the Maltese stage in theatre performances from 1973, the year in which homosexuality was decriminalised till 1989. In this study, a spectrum of performative genres will be referred to, including experimental theatre and pantomime. This analysis will be embedded within queer theory, with specific references to the seminal works of authors such as Foucault, Sedgwick, Butler and Sara Ahmed. The study will also be juxtaposed against the social and political developments that happened in the country, and how this impacted on the awareness of the LGBTI community. The sources that will be used to examine and delve deeper into the study are: newspaper reviews; previews; and interviews conducted with practitioners and performers. 

The study will be divided in three parts. The first part will focus on the 1970s, discussing whether the decriminalisation led to the featuring of more queer characters and how these were perceived. The second part will focus on the eighties, till the year 1987, a pivotal year in Maltese history, where a fundamental change was made in the Maltese constitution, preceded by various incidents of violence and civil unrest. This element of violence is also evident in the selection of plays with LGBTI characters that were staged in this period. The third part will present the dynamics between 1987-1989, and reflect on how the emergence of queer narratives in Maltese society impacted the depiction of queer characters on stage. Hence, a constant parallel will be presented between the political oppression that the country was experiencing; how the LGBT community endured this oppression; and the implications of these dynamics on the Maltese stage.

Tyrone Grima, Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST)

Dr Tyrone Grima is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at MCAST in the department of the Performing Arts. His main areas of interest are the interface between theatre and spirituality, and queer performance. Tyrone has published numerous articles based on his research in a variety of academic journals. 

The Love Booth and Six Companion Plays: imagining a way forward through a staging of queer histories

In June 2023, as part of Toronto Pride, Gailey Road productions offered a staged reading of Tara Goldstein’s The Love Booth and Six Companion Plays, a new verbatim play that stages six stories from the last 50 years of queer liberation efforts. As Fisher argues “contemporary verbatim theatre tends to use personal narrative to authenticate a particular truth process or to validate the narrative the play seeks to establish” (2020). The Love Booth and Six Companion Plays certainly does this, as Gailey Road intentionally chose celebratory moments of community activism in order to gather and uplift contemporary queer communities. Or, as Auerswald suggested in 2019 “verbatim theatre’s prime innovation [is that] it feeds back its stories into the communities where they had come from”. This is a political action, motivated by the desires and hopes of the artist-researchers, playwrights, directors, musicians, visual artists, and performers. The performance of The Love Booth and Other Plays was a political act of queer joy, which attempted to bolster queer people and allies for the difficult political work ahead. 

Auerswald, Bettina (2019). “Feeding Back: Verbatim Theatre and/as Communal Practice”. in Marco Galea, & Szabolcs Musca. (2019) Redefining Theatre Communities: International Perspectives on Community-Conscious Theatre-Making. Intellect Books.

Fisher, Amanda Stuart (2020). Performing the Testimonial: Rethinking Verbatim Dramaturgies. Manchester University Press.

Jenny Salisbury, Independent Scholar

Jenny Salisbury is a theatre creator, arts-based and audience researcher. Her recent post-doctoral fellowship at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, UofT was titled 60 Years of QTBIPOC Activism: A Verbatim Theatre Project. Jenny is co-director of the Centre for Spectatorship and Audience Research and co-artistic director of Gailey Road Productions.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Exploring Justice in Higher Education: Reflections on Devised Theatre Pedagogy at the University of Regina

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Kathryn Bracht

Session Members: Taiwo Afolabi, Shannon Holmes, Jonathan Seinen, Wes D. Pearce

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Kathryn Bracht

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

In launching a new BFA in Devised Performance & Theatre Creation in 2022 “designed to support and encourage the young theatre artist of tomorrow in defining their unique artistic voice” (urdevised.ca), the University of Regina Theatre Department aims to create a site for the pursuit of justice through the formation of holistic theatre artists. This roundtable discussion between faculty members of the Theatre Department at the University of Regina will offer a glimpse into the successes and challenges in the creation and realisation of a devised theatre pedagogy that seeks to meet the needs and encourage the voices of present and future theatre makers. Topics include: The incorporation of room agreements in our teaching and practice; Utilizing established methodologies of critique in training collaborative artists (i.e. Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process); Department programming choices (i.e. Climate Change Theatre Action productions (2021, 2023) incorporating sustainable design practices, Sarah Ruhl/Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (2023) at a time of increasing 2SLGBTQ+ oppression in Saskatchewan); Creating space for critical conversation (i.e Crossing Current), and; Decentralizing/destabilizing the design process toward collective responsibility. As educators in a prairie university that is geographically isolated, we understand that many of our students come to us from differing backgrounds. This has required that we are prepared to respond to a variety of needs in our students and in our classrooms, not only culturally but also with students with diversity of intellectual, emotional, and physical accommodations. We believe this has cultivated an equitable and just educational experience, perhaps more so than that of traditional BFA and graduate training programs. Our program is “for theatre artists who are interested in creating a new path in the theatre landscape” (urdevised.ca), a brave space of rigour and care where the practice of theatre making and performance creation is the practice of justice. 

Session Members:

Kathryn Bracht, Associate Professor and Department Head, Moderator

Taiwo Afolabi, Associate Professor

Shannon Holmes, Assistant Professor

Wes Pearce, Professor

Jonathan Seinen, Assistant Professor

Jonathan Seinen (he/him) is a John Hirsch Prize-winning and Dora Award-nominated theatre director who has worked across the country in devised performance, classical theatre, and new works, including Ho Ka Kei’s Governor General’s Literary Award-nominated Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land), Boys In Chairs Collective’s ACCESS ME, published in Interdependent Magic: Disability Performance In Canada (Playwrights Canada Press) and Saga Collectif’s Black Boys (Buddies In Bad Times). He holds an MFA in Theatre Directing from Columbia University and is Assistant Professor at the University of Regina.

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi is an interdisciplinary artistic scholar from Africa with internationally recognized expertise in research-based theatre focusing on social justice, human rights, and anti-racism education among Indigenous, immigrant, and marginalized communities. Through global theatre projects/publications, his practice-based research encompasses issues of policing, sexual health education, Sustainable Development Goals, African theatre, homelessness, immigration, and language revitalization. He is the Director of the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre (C-SET) and is the Canada Research Chair in Socially Engaged Theatre (Tier II).

Kathryn Bracht is an Associate Professor in the Theatre Department in the faculty of Media, Art, and Performance where she teaches acting, directing, and devising. She received her BFA (Acting) from UBC, and her MFA (Directing) from the University of Alberta, and has appeared professionally in theatre as an actor and director across Western Canada. She has recently extended her practice-based creative research into playwriting and devising been She participated in the Persephone Theatre’s 2017 – 2018 Playwright’s Unit with her one-act play Draw Near, which culminated in a staged reading in the Tasty Bits series at the Saskatchewan Playwright’s Centre’s Spring Festival of New Plays. In October of 2018 she was honored to be selected from over 300 international playwrights to have her latest work-in-progress Seed performed in a staged reading at the Women Playwright’s International Conference in Santiago, Chile.

Dr. Shannon Holmes (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Theatre specializing in voice. Her research focuses on developing cross-disciplinary methods that disrupt the dividing line between speech and singing to mobilize new tools for performers. Central in her explorations is using autoethnographic performance practices to examine the connections between the lived body and voice to centralize the self in devising theatre. As an interdisciplinary artist, Dr. Holmes is experienced as an actor, singer, vocal coach, intimacy coordinator, director and writer. She is trained in a broad range of voice, acting and dance methods, including bel canto, extended vocal technique, Contact Improvisation and Fitzmaurice Voicework. As a performer, she has appeared in Opera, Musical Theatre, Shakespeare, Contemporary Theatre and devised projects. Her solo autobiographical show The Crook of Your Arm was produced in Montréal, New York and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s studio stage, The Other Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon, U.K.

Wes D. Pearce was born and raised in Treaty 4 territory and is a graduate of the University of Regina.  He attended the University of Calgary for graduate school and returned to his alma mater and the brand-new state of the art Riddell Centre in 1997. He has served as Associate Dean (Interdisciplinary Programs and Special Projects), Associate Dean (Undergraduate) and Department Head of Theatre. He teaches a variety of design courses, as well as courses on musical theatre, fashion and Hollywood, and Canadian drama. Currently, he sits on the Board of Directors for Globe Theatre (Regina) and is heavily involved in World Stage Design 2022 (Calgary) as the editor of the exhibition catalogue. He was a long serving board member for the Canadian Association of Theatre Research and is a past board member of the Saskatchewan Association of Theatre Professionals, the Associated Designers of Canada, and AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan. In 2017 he received the University of Regina Theatre Department’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

x: where our paths cross

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Performance

Performer: Leah Decter & Peter Morin

Moderator: Selena Couture

Event Details and Description

Performer: Leah Decter & Peter Morin

Moderator: Selena Couture

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Performance

‘x: where our paths cross’ is part of an ongoing collaborative relationship between artist/scholars Peter Morin (Tahltan Nation) and Leah Decter (Jewish white settler). It brings together Morin’s work with Tahltan knowledge and sovereignties through activations of a book of Tahltan stories “collected” and transcribed by white anthropologist James Teit (1) in the early 1900s, and Decter’s work disturbing patterns of white settler emplacement and settler-state sovereignty, in part through interrogations of the Group of Seven’s landscape painting traditions of the same time period that significantly influenced “Canadian” national identity in celebration of colonial dominance. 

This project began during the height of the COVID lockdown. At that time, it consisted of recorded Zoom sessions in which Morin read Tahltan stories aloud from the James Teit book while Decter drew images of Tahltan Nation territory using photographs collaboratively selected from Morin’s personal and historical archives. In these performance sessions Morin’s act of reading re-informs Teit’s interpretation of Tahltan stories through the assertion of embodied sovereignty and Decter’s drawing-while-listening erodes assumptions of white settler authority and entitlement with respect to the land. 

The proposed performance for CATR brings this on-line iteration of the work into a live in-person context while retaining the zoom meeting component that accommodates remote attendance. In this way it straddles the varied intimacies of live and virtual spaces of “visiting” while activating concepts of decolonial host-guest relations that enact Indigenous sovereignties and confront the certainty of settler emplacement. Working through personal and socio-political scales of relationality and embodiment, our actions contribute to envisioning the otherwise possibilities of meeting on territory in ways that generate ripples of change in the present and for the future. 

Further Details:

In the performance as proposed we are both present in the performance space – Peter reading and Leah drawing – so that a live audience can experience the performance in person. In addition, cameras focused on each of us create two live streams that are channelled through a zoom meeting to accommodate virtual attendances. The zoom feed is also projected in the performance space so that it can simultaneously be viewed by the live audience in its original on-line format. We are also interested in the possibility of the zoom meeting aspect of the performance being projected in a location in public space for a wider audience, perhaps in this case for the wider congress attendees. 

1 Teit’s Tahltan Tales was originally published in Journal of American Folklore, 1919, 1921

Leah Decter, NSCAD University

Leah Decter is a white settler inter-media artist and scholar based between Treaty 1 territory and K’jipuktuk where she holds a Canada Research Chair at NSCAD University. Her artistic practice and research address power dynamics in settler colonial contexts through decolonizing practices and an ethic of being-in-relation in spaces of Indigenous sovereignty.

Peter Morin, OCADU

Peter Morin is a grandson of Tahltan Ancestor Artists. Morin’s artistic offerings can be organized around four themes: articulating Land/Knowing, articulating Indigenous Grief/Loss, articulating Community Knowing, and understanding the Creative Agency/Power of the Indigenous body. Morin holds a tenured position with the Faculty of Arts at OCADU.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Enlivening Justice-Oriented Methodologies in Performance-Based, Ethnographic Research 

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Session

Leader: Christine Balt

 

Event Details and Description

Leader: Christine Balt

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Session

This workshop asks how drama-based methodologies can advance more justice-oriented modes of inquiry in community-based, ethnographic research. Specifically, the workshop will grapple with the tensions that exist regarding the role of drama-based research in communities: should, for instance, performance be leveraged as a tool of primarily critique and analysis, particularly through critical ethnographic work that seeks to “engage, interpret, and record the social meanings, values, structures, and embodiments within a particular domain, setting, or field of human interaction” (Madison, 2020)? Or, should researchers eschew critique for more generative work that produces, rather than examines, new realities, according to a performative paradigm of research invested in world-making (Denzin, 2001)? This workshop will turn to autotopography (Heddon, 2007) as a justice-oriented methodology that can hold onto both critique and performativity in community-based research. Specifically, ‘autotopography’ emerges as a practice that attends to both the ‘roots’ and ‘routes’ (Heddon, 2007) of communities: their histories and socio-political (raced, gendered) inheritances via a critical ethnographic approach, and also, the ‘elsewheres’ of their imaginations as per a performative research methodology. Participants will engage in a series of writing and performance prompts to produce their own autotopographies – these will function as research artifacts that will mobilize criticality and performativity in ‘frictional’ ways (Puar, 2012). The autotopographies will also be examined as examples of  ‘wondrous’ data (MacLure, 2013) that exert what I call ‘critical fascination’ through their “capacity to animate further thought” in data analysis (p. 228). Participants (26 max.) need no prior performance experience to attend this workshop.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Curriculum Strategies: Building BA Theatre Programs in a Climate of Constraint

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Session organizers: Kimberley McLeod and Jenn Stephenson

Event Details and Description

Session organizers: Kimberley McLeod and Jenn Stephenson

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Two-Day Session, 2:30pm-5:45pm on June 19 & 20

In the face of financial constraint, arising from government underfunding of the postsecondary sector, it is essential that we continue to deliver high-quality student academic experiences. Purposeful, values-driven attention to curriculum structures is central to achieving this goal. 

This seminar centers on the questions: Why study and teach theatre now? How do we decide what is most important in the wake of decreasing resources? The session will provide a forum not only for sharing local contexts and challenges, but more importantly, will offer practical strategies and frameworks for curriculum decision-makers. 

Topics will include: 

• Preparing for, participating in, and responding to cyclical quality assurance processes

• Establishing alignment between program learning outcomes and curriculum architecture

• Using data to produce metrics of curriculum efficiency

• Creating short-term and long-term staffing/hiring plans that are aligned with curriculum

• Integrating and differentiating programs in the disciplinary landscape

• Communicating academic program visions to internal stakeholders like Deans, Provosts, Admissions and Recruitment to ensure necessary resourcing

This session is intended for faculty members who have (or expect to have in the future) roles concerned with curriculum development and revision, including Undergraduate Advisors, Undergraduate Chairs, Chairs of departmental academic planning or curriculum committees, Department Heads/Chairs, and Deans. Note that this session is specifically focused on undergraduate Bachelor of Arts (Honours) programs in theatre/theatre studies and drama, deliberately setting aside graduate programs as well as ‘conservatory’ Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. 

Session structure:

We would like to hold this seminar over 2 3-hour sessions at the in person portion of the conference. We anticipate this being mostly work sessions with the seminar participants only. We plan on having a mix of presentations by curricular chairs, deans and participants with experience working in quality assurance alongside breakout sessions in which participants can dig into specific issues of curricular planning. One hour of the seminar would be open to all conference participants. This hour will feature a discussion of how different programs across the country care for and update their curriculum. 

Preparation for the session:

Participants will respond to a series of self-reflexive questions and also participate in a shared document that breaks down different aspects of BA Theatre curricula across the country. Participants will also prepare short remarks on specific topics (dependent on what areas of curricula they have experience with).

Kimberley McLeod, University of Guelph

Kimberley McLeod is associate professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

Jenn Stephenson, Queen’s University

Jenn Stephenson is professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University and Associate Dean (Academic) Faculty of Arts and Science. 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Black And Free: Sites of Performance 

Location: Room 1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Communication Arts – University of Waterloo

Curator: Naila Keleta-Mae

Naila Keleta-Mae, “Black And Free: Sites of Performance”

Jellisa Ricketts, “Black And Free Site Visit Methodology”

Shanique Mothersill, “Black and Free: Performance, Oral Tradition and Unearthing Black Nova Scotian History”

Event Details and Description

Curator: Naila Keleta-Mae

Location: Room 1175 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Communication Arts – University of Waterloo

We live in a world where institutionalized anti-Black racism is troublingly prevalent and increasingly public, and where systems of oppression are entrenched (Crenshaw; Du Bois; Fanon; Gilroy; McKittrick; Sharpe). The pursuit of freedom has been a central preoccupation of Black people throughout the Americas and Africa ever since the advent of the TransAtlantic slave trade in the 16th century, when Europeans led the violent taking of Africans from their lands to build European settlements (Bakare-Yusuf; Campbell; Cooper; Hartman; Rodney; Young 2005). For the past five centuries, Black people have used Black expressive culture (ie. architecture, visual art, theatre, performance, music, dance, festivals, and protests) to imagine and advocate for freedom. By taking freedom as its departure point, the curated panel proposes a reading of Black expressive culture that looks towards and imagines a liberated present and future through the analysis of site visits conducted as part of Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae’s Black And Free research-creation project. Seeking to make a “new claim” about blackness and freedom, the program aims to analyze Black expressive culture using theatre and performance studies methodologies to ascertain how blackness and freedom are portrayed in the range of historical sites and public events visited in Canada. An argument for blackness and freedom necessarily evokes questions of justice, that are panel bring together with three papers focused on Black And Free’s theoretical and methodological frameworks (by Dr. Keleta-Mae), the Black Loyalists Heritage Centre in Shelburne, Nova Scotia (by Jelissa Ricketts) and Freedom School in Toronto, Ontario (by Shanique Mothersill).  

Black And Free Site Visit Methodology  

This paper will describe the theoretical and methodological framework that I have used and will use to conduct visits, for my Black And Free research-creation project, to historical sites and public events in North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa where blackness and freedom are expressed and/or contested through various artistic forms. I started Black And Free in 2017 and it draws from numerous disciplines and fields in the humanities, namely: performance theory, critical race theory, feminist theory and theatre studies. D. Soyini Madison writes, “With each generation, perhaps with each turn of a phrase, we stake a new claim within a new world order for the nature and significance of blackness” (vi). The intellectual contribution that Black And Free seeks to make is a “new claim” about blackness and freedom. This paper will assert that expressions of Black freedom constitute both performances of blackness and ways of making what has been rendered unthinkable—the full liberation of Black people and the agency of Black people to define that liberation for themselves—thinkable and livable for Black people and the larger world of which they are a part. Further, this paper will assert that while Black people have been forced into various forms of performance both during and since chattel slavery, this history does not prevent performances and other cultural expressions of Blackness from constituting acts of agency that assert into the relationship between performer and audience—or site of expression and viewer – the fact of Black freedom.  

Naila Keleta-Mae, University of Waterloo 

Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae is a Dorothy Killam Fellow, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Race, Gender and Performance, Member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Artists, Scholars, and Scientists, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo and a multi-disciplinary artist. 

Black and Free: Performance, Oral Tradition and Unearthing Black Nova Scotian History 

A major dereliction of Black Canadian history is the events surrounding Black Loyalists and the development and eventual destruction of Africville in Nova Scotia. Theatre, music, poetry, and visual arts have been tools utilized to platform the willfully forgotten histories of Black Canada(s) (Riley, 2022). These artistic practices share a methodological and philosophical approach to the oral traditions of West African Mande ethnic groups that have been maintained and utilized by their displaced descendants in the Americas to keep their memories alive (Okagube, 2007). This paper will explore these intersections and retentions through an assessment of performance pieces that center on the unacknowledged lives of Black Loyalists, Africville and Blackness in the Maritimes. Moreover, this paper will reflect on the extent to which these practices can be viewed as a counter-pedagogy, resisting the dereliction of traditional institutions of knowledge and creating alternative ways of knowing. Performances that will be critically engaged include but are not limited to, the works of Camille Turner, Clement Virgo, and Halifax’s Black Theatre Ensemble.  

For centuries, Canadian history has been contoured by omissions and erasure that misconstrue the presence of Blackness as a recent introduction to the country. Canadian educational systems have eschewed engaging the role of Black people in the development of Canada to maintain the perception of national benevolence (Bristow, 1994). This fragmented historiography has been challenged by Black Canadian artists who have worked to unearth the 400 years of African Canadian experiences.  

Jellisa Ricketts, York University

Jellisa Ricketts is a filmmaker and Ph.D. student studying Social and Political Thought at York University in Toronto, Ontario. Her research focuses on spatial theory, Black geographies, Cultural Geographies and Architecture.  

Black And Free: Freedom School’s Freedom Pedagogy as an Educational Stage for Black Youth, Justice and Performance 

A radical and recalcitrant conjuring of Black youth’s deep longing for freedom and educational justice, Freedom School Toronto is an immersive initiative that mobilizes creative educational alternatives toward a knotted relationship between Black liberatory education and the creative possibilities of Black youth. Visited in 2019 by Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae as part of Black And Free’s research program, Freedom School Toronto challenges and resists state violence, anti-queerness and anti-Black racism in the Canadian school system. Examining its carefully designed Kiki Ball as a performance gesture and its Black Power Saturday School as an educational “stage”, I draw from Black feminist, queer and critical race theories as well as performance studies to explore Freedom School Toronto’s freedom pedagogies including its use of humanizing and queer positive educational opportunities. Specifically, I explore its engagement of justice, politics, Black cultures and histories within the context of resistance, education and performance. 

Shanique Mothersill, York University  

Shanique Mothersill a PhD candidate in gender, feminist and women’s studies at York University, working on “the poetics of Jamaican women’s aliveness.” As a poet and scholar, she thinks and writes about the ways in which Black women’s multiple acts of living help us understand gendered and racialized “beingnesss” in the African diaspora. 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Intertwining DH Projects in Theatre and Performance Research 

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal 

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – University of Victoria

Co-Conveners: Sasha Kovacs, Heather Davis-Fisch, Matthew Tomkinson, and Laurel Green 

 

Participants:

Crystal Chan and Peter Farbridge (Concordia): The Centre Cannot Hold (TCCH)

Joerg Esleben (uOttawa): Brecht in/au Canada

Barry Freeman (UofT): The Pledge Project

Dr. Helmut Reichenbächer (OCAD): Methods of the Digital Humanities to trace the effect of Nazi censorship on theatre programming. 

Dr. Cyrus Sundar Singh (TMU): WhereWeStand: One Land, Two Hearts

Michael Wheeler (Queens): FOLDA / You Should Have Stayed Home

Event Details and Description

Co-Conveners: Sasha Kovacs, Heather Davis-Fisch, Matthew Tomkinson, and Laurel Green 

Location: Room 1177 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal 

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – University of Victoria

Participants: 

Crystal Chan and Peter Farbridge (Concordia): The Centre Cannot Hold (TCCH)

Joerg Esleben (uOttawa): Brecht in/au Canada 

Barry Freeman (UofT): The Pledge Project

Dr. Helmut Reichenbächer (OCAD): Methods of the Digital Humanities to trace the effect of Nazi censorship on theatre programming. 

Dr. Cyrus Sundar Singh (TMU): WhereWeStand: One Land, Two Hearts

Michael Wheeler (Queens): FOLDA / You Should Have Stayed Home

In-Person Session

In the recent article “Digital Humanities and Theatre Studies: From Fragility to Stability” Zafiris Nikitas notes that “Theatre and digital humanities face the same challenge: the entropy of transience.”  Drawing on Nikitas’ proposal that performance-related DH research projects might better stand the test of time if developed within “intertwined research matrixes,” this roundtable invites theatre and performance scholars and artists, whose work engages digital tools and technologies, to collaboratively share the lessons learned from their past or future projects, and to engage in open discussion concerning opportunities and challenges of DH work in the context of our discipline. The roundtable will invite each participant to offer a brief 5-min. lightning-round contribution, followed by a facilitated group discussion that considers possibilities for collaboration and cross-pollination, moving forward.. 

Through this roundtable, we’re interested in bringing together members of the CATR/ACRT community to:

  • Amplify and network current digital humanities projects: we want to share knowledge about our field’s present engagement of digital tools in performance scholarship. With these presentations, we hope to cross-fertilize knowledge about a range of projects in our field that employ DH for diverse approaches to: knowledge mobilization, research networking, performance mapping, archival research, exhibition, equity, pedagogy, advocacy, inclusion, anti-racism, decolonization, community bridging, partnership, and other aims.
  • Create a space for supportive co-sharing and co-learning: we want to hear about challenges and opportunities researchers have faced through their own engagement with digital tools and methods –topics here include, but are not limited to: responses to concerns about obsolescence and trascience, approaches to peer-review structures for online (digital) publication, challenges through the design and technical development process. 
  • Imagine possibilities for support of developing and future DH projects: Discussions of potential futures or emerging projects that engage DH in theatre and performance research. We want to bring together scholars and artists that are imagining new possibilities for digital humanities approaches, informed by work outside and beyond the discipline. We are keen to also hear about how DH learning is being incorporated into the theatre and performance studies classroom, and how DH can inform the transformation of pedagogy at the undergraduate and graduate level.

This roundtable will be co-convened by the research team of the Performance in the Pacific Northwest research project. Information about this project and bios for the co-convening team are available on our project website here: https://performancepnw.uvic.ca/about/.  

Heather Davis-Fisch is Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Lethbridge and Co-lead of the SSHRC funded Performance in the Pacific Northwest: Pilot Project, that investigates the role of performances in the establishment of settler-colonialism in nineteenth-century Canada and how performance documents and objects can be re-integrated into galleries, archives and museums. Her research interests include performance historiography and Indigenous and intercultural performance, particularly in historical paradigms. 

Sasha Kovacs is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre at the University of Victoria and co-lead of the SSHRC funded Performance in the Pacific Northwest: Pilot Project. The focus of her research is Canadian theatre historiography. She is also a co-investigator of the national research partnership project Gatherings: Archival and Oral Histories of Performance (www.gatheringspartnership.com) that aims to deepen methodological approaches to the study and preservation of Canadian performance history. 

Matthew Tomkinson is a writer, composer, and researcher based in Vancouver, and a postdoctoral fellow for the SSHRC funded Performance in the Pacific Northwest: Pilot Project. He holds a PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of British Columbia, where he studied sound within the Deaf, Disability, and Mad arts. His doctoral dissertation, “Mad Auralities: Sound and Sense in Contemporary Performance,” examines auditory representations of mental health differences. Working across a wide range of disciplines, including text, performance, installation, sound design, and new media, Matthew’s artistic practice shows a recurring interest in unruly eclecticism and constraint-based compositional approaches. Matthew lives on the ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Laurel Green (she/her) is an artist, creative producer, and interdisciplinary collaborator whose work is deeply engaged with process, exploring methodologies for creation, and strategies for shared leadership. She is the Research Associate and Project Manager for the Performance in the Pacific Northwest: Pilot Project. She is a nationally-recognized dramaturg with a decade of practice in the creation, development, and production of new performance work.  With a Masters degree from the University of Toronto, she is an alumni of the Cultural Leadership program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Laurel has an active freelance practice wherein she plans, facilitates, and produces arts and culture gatherings with intention and care. Most recently, she produced the Arts Champions Summit for Victoria’s Capital Regional District (CRD). She is currently the Digital Partnerships Producer for The Cultch. She is also a performance researcher with the University of Victoria, sings with The Choir YYJ and is a Meadow Maker.

Participant Bios: 

Crystal Chan is a writer, artist, and producer working in new media and publishing. Originally from 香港 (Hong Kong), she is based in Tiohtiá:ke (Montreal), where she serves as an executive board member of the Quebec Writers’ Federation. She is a former artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity and is now a professor in the Creative Writing Department of the University of British Columbia and an editor at UBC Press for RavenSpace publishing, an innovative multimedia publication series by Indigenous authors and their collaborators. Certified as both an editor and a designer, her specialty is merging storytelling with technology and presenting narratives in unique settings and forms. She is the creator, director, and host of Eighty Thousand Steps, a first-of-its-kind app for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that allows listeners to power the show as they walk, one step at a time. She is also a producer in the cultural and non-profit sectors.

Joerg Esleben is an Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University of Ottawa, with a cross-appointment in the Department of Theatre. He teaches German language and culture as well as comparative and intercultural studies. His research is focused on intercultural theatre, theatrical relations between India and Germany, and transcultural uses of Brecht’s work.

Peter Farbridge is a theatre-maker working in Montreal. He holds a Master’s degree in anthropology and theatre from Concordia University, where he teaches regularly. As a founding member and co-artistic director of the Modern Times Stage Company from 1989 to 2022, Peter performed in, wrote and co-devised numerous productions. He won several Toronto Dora Awards for his work with the company. He also collaborates with Postmarginal, a project he launched while at Modern Times, which aims to encourage hybridity in theatre practice by exploring the perspectives of marginalized artists.

Barry Freeman is an Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Graduate Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. He researches, teaches and writes about theatre education, pedagogy, and intercultural performance.

Dr. Helmut Reichenbächer is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, OCAD University, Toronto, where he teaches courses on cultural history, popular culture, and theatre. His digital humanities research is funded by a 2023-2025 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant. He has been invited for participation in the International Federation for Theatre Research’s working group for digital humanities meeting in July 2024.

dr. Cyrus Sundar Singh is an AcademiCreActivist: a Gemini Award-winning filmmaker, scholar, composer, singer-songwriter, author, and published poet. He arrived in Toronto as a fresh-off-the-boat

ten-year-old from India and almost embraced the winter. From the Award-winning NFB debut

Film Club (2001) to the live-documentary world premieres: Brothers In The Kitchen (2016);

Africville in Black and White (2017/18); In the Wake of Time (2021), Cyrus’ research and

productions have taken him around the world including Senegal, India, Israel, Spain, Haiti,

Jamaica, and Sri Lanka. Recently, Cyrus successfully produced the following cross-Canada

multimedia storytelling projects with CERC in Migration: i am… (2021); Under the Tent (2022);

WhereWeStand (2023/24).

Michael Wheeler is an Assistant Professor in The DAN School of Drama and Music where he teaches acting, directing and arts leadership. As a researcher, his work has focused on the possibilities virtual reality presents for live performance, and is funded with co-PI Dr Matthew Pan by a Connected Minds CFREF Seed grant to explore the use of robotics to provide haptic feedback for live VR performances. Previous SSHRC-funded research involved collaborating with co-PI Dr. Laura Levin and computer scientists to adapt a play previously staged in physical space to a virtual one. He is also Director of Artistic Research at SpiderWebShow Performance, Canada’s first live digital performance company, and a Co-Curator of FOLDA (The Festival of Live Digital Art).

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Audience Studies

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – University of Ottawa

Moderator: Kelsey Blair

Jacob Pittini, “Asking Audiences: Research Methodologies for Centering Audience Expertise”

Alessandro Simari, “The Theatre Usher is Watching and Working”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Kelsey Blair

Location: Room 1411 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour- Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre – University of Ottawa

Asking Audiences: Research Methodologies for Centering Audience Expertise

What does asking audiences look like in the field of audience research? What can it achieve, and how? A commitment to ‘asking audiences’ in audience research responds to recent calls for centering audience expertise (Freshwater, Heim, Reason, Sedgman). By inviting audience members to speak for themselves, audience researchers enact a process of co-theorizing with the capacity to generate novel insights (“Recollections on Re-collecting”). This paper evaluates the ways in which audience members communicate and understand their role through a range of embodied behaviours, beyond the frame of researcher led interviews. 

Following my experience of ‘audiencing audiences’ to survey audience behaviour for my MA dissertation, I imagine diversifying this prompt of asking audiences (Modern Misbehaviour). To assess theatre etiquette in a post-pandemic period of instability, I learned with theatre audiences through this approach of audiencing, a sensory ethnography research practice of embodying the role of audience member to gain first-hand knowledge of audiences. In light of this experience, I recognize audiences as communicating their beliefs, needs and expectations about theatre in a multitude of diverse ways. 

In this paper I survey the rigour and potentiality of these research methodologies as approaches to ‘asking audiences’ and centering audience expertise in this field. While cautious to perpetuate the devaluation of non-expert voices and theorize on behalf of audiences rather than with them, this research instead seeks to recognize the agency of audiences to offer insights through behaviour independent of researcher intervention. Asking audiences remains crucial to audience research, but audience expertise can be centered in more than one way.  

Works Cited:

Freshwater, Helen. Theatre & Audience. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 

Heim, Caroline. “‘Argue with Us!’: Audience Co-Creation through Post-Performance Discussions.” New Theatre Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 2, 2012, pp. 189–97.  

Pittini, Jacob. “Audiencing Audiences: Unpacking Audience Research Methodology in the Being Together Project.” Sharing Together (Being Together team internal conference), Presentation, 6 June 2022. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 

Pittini, Jacob. Modern Misbehaviour: Surveying Post-Pandemic Theatre Etiquette in London, 2021-2023. 2023. Queen Mary University of London, MA dissertation. 

Reason, Matthew. “Participations on Participation: Researching the ‘Active’ Theatre Audience.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2015, pp. 271-80. 

Sedgman, Kirsty. “Audience Experience in and Anti-Expert Age: A Survey of Theatre Audience Research.” Theatre Research International, vol. 42, no. 3, 2017, pp. 307-22.

Jacob Pittini, University of Toronto

Jacob Pittini is a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Jacob is invested in co-theorizing with audiences of contemporary theatre, with his recent MA dissertation surveying how theatre audiences are constructing and deconstructing notions of theatre etiquette in the post-pandemic era.

The Theatre Usher is Watching and Working

The analytical desire to untangle the complex receptive conditions of modern theatre has rendered forth analyses that variously re-configure the spectator — conventionally understood as being essentially passive in their absorption of the spectacle — as: active, emancipated performance interpreters; as ‘prosumers’ who produce in addition to consume the spectacle; as ‘outsourced’ theatre labourers involved in especially postmodern forms of meaning-making; or, as engaged in value-producing labour through the act of spectatorship itself. The spectator’s performance of attentive watching has been rightly configured as a political act, especially in relation to the political economy of theatre.

But spectators aren’t the only attentive watchers who have a presence inside the theatre. The usher, lingering unseen in the darkened corners of the auditorium, provides a useful counterpoint to studies of the spectator. Where the spectator’s leisure-time act of watching has been (re-)inscribed as a theatrical labour (with varying degrees of literalness), the usher (as a faux frais worker) performs types of attentive watching that are unambiguously related to the production processes of theatre. 

Focusing its analysis mainly on the usher – a largely undertheorised figure in analyses of theatre’s industrial operations – this paper attends to these differentiated ‘labours’ of watching. Additionally, this paper will further elucidate its claims regarding the political economy of usher ‘spectatorship’ through the comparative examination of two case studies of ‘participatory’ theatre, in which audience members and ushers were respectively invited to take centre stage alongside the performers.

Alessandro Simari, University of Ottawa

Alessandro Simari teaches theatre, early modern literature, and film, most recently at University of Ottawa. His research focuses on the cultural politics and political economy of theatre through the lens of theatre history and contemporary (Shakespeare) performance. He is a member of the Performance and Political Economy Research Collective. pperesearch.com 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Towards Eco-Just Future, Department of Utopian Arts and Letters Orientation

Location: Room 0028  Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Curator: Taiwo Afolabi

Sponsored by the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre (C-SET) and Department of Utopian Arts and Letters of Orientation (DUAL)

Event Details and Description

Curator: Taiwo Afolabi

Location: Room 0028  – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Panelists: Garrett and Kimberley Richards

Sponsored by the Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre (C-SET) and Department of Utopian Arts and Letters of Orientation (DUAL)

Welcome learners, to this orientation for the Department of Utopian Arts and Letters! We invite you to a vibrant community emerging from the dreams of creating a joyful, just and equitable world beyond the climate crisis. Today, we’re thrilled to have a diverse group of the department’s artist-educator faculty share their courses on how to imagine different futures through a rigorous unlearning process. Here at DUAL, we see education as a non-transactional experience open to all, regardless of institutional ties. We champion unconventional and accessible learning journeys, encouraging you to go at your own pace and follow your curiosity. Although we acknowledge our ambitious goals may not always be fully realized, our commitment to challenging established norms, nurturing skills for systemic change, and sparking innovative social and technological solutions never wavers. Come be empowered to explore the offerings of the department as we collectively dream, unlearn, and reimagine what an ecojust future could be! Free Pizza.

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16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Intimacy & Consent-based Practices for Educators & Artists

Location: ONLINE – TBA

Online Session

Leader: Emily Rollie

Event Details and Description

Leader: Emily Rollie

Location: ONLINE – TBA

Online Session

The field of intimacy choreography and direction has evolved and veritably exploded in recent years as more and more theatre artists, companies, and institutions recognize the import and necessity of creating a culture of consent in rehearsal spaces. While much of the attention in the field of intimacy direction and education is necessarily on working with actors in rehearsal spaces, there’s an increasing need to expand conversations and training in consent-based practices to include theatre artists in other areas and across academic programs. 

Indeed, Theatrical Intimacy Education’s selection of best practices are guided by two key ideas: to protect the most vulnerable in the room and to train everyone in the room. Thus, this praxis session takes up the idea of “training everyone in the room” to offer a sense of the ways that intimacy protocols and consent-based practices can be incorporated into the academic class room and across training programs. Drawing on my own work in creating and leading workshops across our department (as well as for faculty in disciplines beyond theatre) in addition to my work as an associate faculty member with Theatrical Intimacy Education, this praxis session examines and offers tools for the application of consent training and intimacy work  as a way to continue to revolutionize the theatrical industrial complex and our training models.

Emily Rollie, Central Washington University

Emily Rollie, Ph.D. (she/her) is an artist-scholar and Associate Professor in Performance and Theatre Studies at Central Washington University. Her research focuses on intimacy choreography and consent-based practices, directing practice/theory, feminist and queer theatre, and contemporary Canadian theatre. She works professionally as a director and intimacy choreographer and is associate faculty for Theatrical Intimacy Education.

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Break – 45 minutes

18:30 – 23:00 EDT

Conference Banquet

Location: Wienstein & Gavino’s

1434 rue Crescent

In-Person Event

Event Details and Description

Location: Wienstein & Gavino’s

1434 rue Crescent

https://maps.app.goo.gl/ZJ7QHjQkJNnhXMg47

Website: https://wgmtl.com/en

In-Person Event

If you purchased a banquet ticket, that will be detailed on your Registration Confirmation email from when you registered for Congress, so check that if you can’t recall. If you did not purchase a banquet ticket when registering and you would like to go, you can still purchase one until 5pm on Monday June 17. Send $50 by e-transfer to catr.treasurer@gmail.com.

Please send any questions, specific access requirements, or access requests for this event via email to Jayna Mees at catr.accessibility@gmail.com.

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Thursday, June 20

09:00 – 18:00 EDT

Quiet Room – June 20

Location: Room 1207 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1207 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

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10:00 – 14:00 EDT

Publisher’s Kiosks – June 20

Publisher’s Kiosks will be open for business in Room B-236F – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

Event Details and Description

Publisher’s Kiosks will be open for business in Room B-236F – 3200 rue Jean-Brillant – Université de Montréal

(Building 27 on the UdM map)

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Editor’s Roundtable

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Film – University of British Columbia

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Film – University of British Columbia

Editors:

TRiC – Nicole Nolette and/or Naila Keleta-Mae

CTR – Heather David-Fisch

Modern Drama – Lawrence Switzsky and/or David Kornhaber

Performance Matters – Peter Dickinson

Critical Stages – Yana Meerzon

TURBA: The Journal  for Global Practices in Live Arts Curation – Dena Davida 

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Care and Participatory Theatre

Location: Room 0030 – – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Shannon Holmes

Derek Manderson, “Team Play: Communal Care in asses.masses and New Societies”

Jenn Stephenson, ” “Wheeeee!”: Emergent Social Relations in Marathon Durational Audience Participation”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Shannon Holmes

Location: Room 0030 – – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Team Play: Communal Care in asses.masses and New Societies

Emerging discourses of care amidst the schisms of the pandemic have revealed how self-care continues to be co-opted by neoliberalism, alleviating communal and institutional obligation (Hobart and Kneese; Jarvis and Savage). In this paper, I explore how participatory theatre advances reciprocal and communally driven radical care by engaging with dramaturgical structures of audience teamwork. Traditionally, care in participatory performances involves the sharing of “healing gifts” from artist to audience (Stephenson 93). I offer a framework that extends this dynamic, seeing the artist not as healer or gift-giver, but as the coach of a team. This “aesthetic of care” (Thompson 46) foregrounds the action of the audience, allowing participants to negotiate their responsibilities to each other and how they might both support and be supported in a theatrical game. 

Teams materialize clearly in Patrick Blenkarn and Milton Lim’s durational video game epic asses.masses, and Re:Current Theatre’s board game nation-building simulation New Societies. By placing these works in conversation, I demonstrate how communal efforts towards an actionable goal – such as beating a video game or creating an ideal world- invite intimate displays of empathy and solidarity. While theatre teams are not immune to power struggles engendered by competition (Leo et al.), these performances reveal how navigating the obstacles erected by this thorny network of relationality can foster deeper cohesion when they are overcome. An effective team requires attentiveness and sensitivity, affording team dramaturgy a crucial platform for challenging a culture currently prioritizing care from and for the self.

Works Cited

Hobart, Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani, and Tamara Kneese. “Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times.” Social Text, vol. 38, no. 1 (142), Mar. 2020, pp. 1–16. 

Jarvis, Liam, and Karen Savage. Postdigital Performances of Care: Technology and Pandemic. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, (In press).

Leo, F. M., et al. “Role Ambiguity, Role Conflict, Team Conflict, Cohesion and Collective Efficacy in Sport Teams: A Multilevel Analysis.” Psychology of Sport and Exercise, vol. 20, Sept. 2015, pp. 60–66. 

Stephenson, Jenn. “‘Who Cares?’: The Neoliberal Problem of Performing Care in Immersive and Participatory Play.” Contemporary Theatre Review, vol. 32, no. 1, Jan. 2022, pp. 91–100. 

Thompson, James. “Towards an Aesthetics of Care.” Performing Care: New Perspectives on Socially Engaged Performance, edited by Amanda Stuart Fisher and James Thompson, Manchester University Press, 2020.

Derek Manderson, York University

Derek Manderson is an interdisciplinary scholar, performer, and PhD student in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. His research imbricates game studies and participatory theatre, revealing the affordances, boundaries, and dramaturgical structures of collaborative play. He has been published in Canadian Theatre Review and smART Magazine.

“Wheeeee!”: Emergent Social Relations in Marathon Durational Audience Participation

By hour six of the participatory video-game theatre experience asses.masses, our community of audience-players is absolutely rapt, but we are getting silly. Some people are lying on the floor with empty bags of snacks; many of us have taken off our shoes. Each time the current leader-player jumps our donkey avatar over an obstacle, we all call out “Wheeeee!” And we still have two episodes left to play. 

This paper considers how long duration affects the relational aesthetics of socially turned theatrical art works (Bourriaud, Bishop). In asses.masses, which runs typically seven-and-a-half hours, the typical focus of durational experience of marathon theatre shifts from the endurance of the actors (Kalb, Switzky) to the audience. In the absence of live actors, the audience-participants of asses.masses play the digital characters and represent the asses, but, more importantly, we are the masses. 

With very little direction about how to (make a) play, the audience must grapple with tensions between the individual and the collective, between freedom and rules to make effective decisions. Using theories of game design (Salen and Zimmerman) and political philosophy (Rousseau), I will explore how different elements of interactive play-based dramaturgy in asses.masses test us and teach us to become a herd. Through analysis of actual observed behaviours of several different herds in action, I will consider how groups of strangers are progressively, in the crucible of time, formed into a functioning society with its own set of emergent operational protocols, social mores, and even a culture. 

WORKS CITED

Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (Verso, 2012)

Blenkarn, Patrick and Milton Lim. asses.masses. Dramaturgy by Laurel Green. Composition and sound design by David Mesiha. Performed at Festival of Live Digital Art (Kingston, Ontario) June 2023 and Theatre Centre (Toronto, Ontario) September 2023.

Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics, (Presses du réel, 2002)

Kalb, Jonathan. Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater, (U Michigan P, 2013)

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Rousseau: The Social Contract and Other Later Political Writings. Edited and translated by Victor Gourevitch, (Cambridge UP, 2018)

Salen, Katie and Eric Zimmerman. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, (MIT Press, 2005) 

Stephenson, Jenn and Mariah Horner. PLAY: Dramaturgies of Participation (Playwrights Canada, 2024).

Switzky, Lawrence. “Marathon Theatre as Affective Labour: Productive Exhaustion in The Godot Cycle and Life and Times.” Canadian Theatre Review 162 (Spring 2015): 26-30.

Jenn Stephenson, Queen’s University

Jenn Stephenson is Professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University. She is the author of three books: Performing Autobiography: Contemporary Canadian Theatre (UTP, 2013), Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real (UTP, 2019) and PLAY: Dramaturgies of Participation co-authored with Mariah Horner (Playwrights Canada, 2024).

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Reflections on staging justice in drama, theatre, and performance in academia and beyond 

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Convenor: Signy Lynch and Jenn Boulay

Members of working group 2023-2024 – Kim McLeod, Shana MacDonald, Michael Wheeler, Laura Levin, Peter Kuling, Sebastian Samur,  Catherine Quirk,  Jayna Mees, Naomi Bennett, Tara Harris, Michael Bergmann, Mark Lipton (Professor, University of Guelph), Taylor Graham

Event Details and Description

Leaders: Signy Lynch and Jenn Boulay

Location: Room 0028 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

At the two most recent CATR conferences, co-organizers Jenn Boulay and Signy Lynch led two seminars, “Burning it All Down: Advocating for Structural Change through Disability Justice” and  “Performing Complaint: Working on theatre and performance institutions.” These two sessions invited participants from a wide range of backgrounds to share responses and collaboratively brainstorm on issues of complaint (inspired by Sara Ahmed’s Complaint!) and Disability Justice (inspired by Sins Invalid’s “10 Principles for Disability Justice” and Jenny Boulay’s work), as they relate to effecting change in Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies (DTPS) departments and institutions. 

Our proposal for this year (title TBA), is a roundtable that builds from these two conversations, drawing on themes and participants from the previous years to focus particularly on barriers to effecting change within DTPS departments and institutions (including reflexively examining how these barriers have surfaced within our own conversations). While our previous two sessions served primarily as spaces for internal reflection and community building, we feel that the conversation has advanced to a point that we would like to share our observations and work-in-progress with the broader CATR membership. In a roundtable that strongly addresses this year’s conference theme of “Staging Justice,” we will invite guests from the earlier seminars, as well as some new arts professionals, artists, and/or scholars from Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, to cultivate a forum for critical reflection and knowledge-sharing on the work towards collective liberation in both scholarly and practical contexts.

Works Cited

“10 Principles of Disability Justice” Sins Invalid, sinsinvalid.org/blog/10-principles-of-disability-justice

Ahmed, Sara. Complaint!. Duke UP, 2021. 

Boulay, Jenn. “The World is On Fire: Disability Justice is my Strength.” Knots: An Undergraduate Journal of Disability Studies, vol. 6, no.1, 2021, pp. 68-75.

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Puppets and Performance

Location: Room 3110 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Moderator: Robin Whittaker

James Ashby, “Collaborating Together, Apart: Teaching Devised Puppetry Online”

Dawn Brandes, “Puppet Ecology: Playing With Plastics”

Tzu-Yu Hung, “Revisiting the White Terror: The White Storyteller and Taiwanese Glove Puppetry”

Event Details and Description

Moderator: Robin Whittaker

Location: Room 3110 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Collaborating Together, Apart: Teaching Devised Puppetry Online

This past summer, I was lucky enough to be able to teach a course related to my dissertation on devised puppetry. I began to draft my syllabus in a flurry of excited keystrokes: “In this course, we will seek to answer one deceptively simple question: Does the focus on the object in puppet theatre restrict the spontaneity and physical freedom that are so central to theatrical devising?” We did indeed begin to come to grips with this question, but there was a new dimension that I had considered only in passing before. No matter how physically close a student might be to their puppet, no matter how rich the semiotic interchange between them might be, this was an online course. Consequently, these students bravely grappled with not only how to channel their creative impulses through an outside object but also how to communicate their ideas through a screen.

Thankfully, everyone was familiar with Zoom by then, so, much as performers must learn to do with puppets more generally, we were able to learn to take advantage of the flexibilities offered by the medium. A greater challenge was to develop devising strategies that left room for potentially constructive conflict (Barton 2008) and did so in a just manner, given that not everyone had the same depth of training and experience or access to the most recent technology. This paper will examine some of these successes and hurdles and outline how they could become increasingly relevant in our new reality.

James Beauregard Ashby

James Beauregard Ashby is a relatively recent PhD graduate from the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto, a puppet artist, a union activist, and a sometime sessional lecturer. Ashby is also the co-founder of Bricoteer Experiments Theatre and a past president of the Ontario Puppetry Association.

Puppet Ecology: Playing With Plastics

Amid the growing (and interconnected) collection of environmental concerns facing humanity, our penchant for overconsumption and excess looms large. Far from an invisible harm, this excess is marked by landfills overflowing with fast-fashion textiles, rapidly-obsolete electronics, and of course, non-biodegradable plastic. The sheer volume of the “stuff” we consume is overwhelming us.

Puppetry is in a unique position vis a vis this proliferation of “stuff.” On one hand, it is an art form that relies on materiality, often making use of the same materials that show up in our landfills. On the other hand, the way in which puppeteers foreground and enliven these materials encourage audiences to look at them differently, perhaps undercutting or interrupting what Jane Bennett calls “the image of dead or thoroughly instrumentalized matter [which] feeds human hubris and our earth-destroying fantasies of conquest and consumption” (ix). How might puppetry unsettle our relationship to the junk that surrounds us, and to what end?

To tackle this question, I will consider two performances that engage directly with the nonbiodegradable supervillain, plastic. In Compagnie Non Nova’s L’après-midi d’un foehn, disposable plastic bags become air dancers, carried on the wind created by multiple fans to the music of Debussy. In Robin Frohardt’s The Plastic Bag Store, puppet characters playfully reflect on the story our indestructible plastic waste will tell future generations about us, replete with misinterpretations. 

In both of these productions, the relationship to plastic is not one of interdiction, but of transformation. Whether the plastic is presented beautifully or comically, the message of these performances does not seem to be a simple command to “use less plastic,” but a more complicated – and perhaps more ecologically hopeful – reorientation of our relationship to stuff. 

Dawn Tracey Brandes, Dalhousie University

Dr. Dawn Tracey Brandes is an Instructor in the Fountain School of Performing Arts and an Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her scholarly work considers the theoretical implications of contemporary puppet performance, particularly in relation to phenomenological concerns. Her work has appeared in publications like The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance and Puppetry International.

Revisiting the White Terror: The White Storyteller and Taiwanese Glove Puppetry

How can modern theater engage in the process of retelling difficult knowledge and if possible, in the process of any form of healing? This paper examines how Taiwanese colonial and postcolonial memory is presented in The White Storyteller (2019) by means of traditional glove puppetry. It first traces the history of Taiwanese glove puppetry under colonial rule and explores the ways The White Storyteller represents colonial and postcolonial trauma as well as how such trauma shaped Taiwanese identification. This paper argues that by means of a double theatrical mediation through its collaboration with traditional Taiwanese glove puppetry, the play presents the incommensurability of traumatic past and the incompleteness of historical representation. It explores the theatrical potentials of puppets onstage to portray the paradoxical condition of the White Terror as an open problem.

Tzu-Yu Hung, University of Toronto

Tzu-Yu Hung is a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Tzu-Yu’s interests revolve around how the concept of dramatic illusion is explored classical Greek tragedy in its language and themes as well as how this concept affects tragedy’s expected spectatorship.

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Dogs, Gods, and City Hall: The Racialized Legacy Of The Displaced Africville Community   And The Unconscionable Actions At City Hall

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Session

Leader: Cyrus Sandar Singh

 

Event Details and Description

Leader: Cyrus Sundar Singh

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Session

Dogs, Gods and City Hall is a collaborative 50-minute co-creative presentation that engages practice, theory and performance in the framing of the narrative. The participants are immersed in experiential learning that places them inside Canadian history thereby complicit in creating, disseminating, and archiving the narrative. It is a participatory-performative-liveness that is based on the author’s ongoing research with the community of Africville. The presentation contains verbatim transcripts from interviews conducted by the author. All audio elements of this presentation were also captured by the author on multiple research trips to Africville, Nova Scotia spanning five years.

Cyrus Sundar Singh,

Cyrus is an AcademiCreActivist: a Gemini Award-winning filmmaker, scholar, composer, singer-songwriter, and published poet. He arrived in Toronto as a fresh-off-the-boat ten-year-old from India and almost embraced the winter. His doctoral thesis, Performing the Documentary explores site-specific live-documentary, which brings together the audience, subjects, musicians and multimedia in the co-creative telling.  

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09:15 – 10:45 EDT

Ethical Relationality of Rehearsal Practice: A Live Experimentation

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Session

Leader: Peter Farbridge

Event Details and Description

Leader: Peter Farbridge

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Session

Many performing arts organizations have recognized a need for more diversity and equity in practice and to incorporate marginalized experiences and voices in performance to be more relevant to the communities to whom they perform. However, the challenge remains: Once representation of diverse communities is achieved, how do we cultivate ongoing ethical relationships in creation and rehearsal spaces? 

We propose an approach aligned with the concept of ethical relationality that could be used in performing arts creation and rehearsal spaces to enable ethical co-creation by inviting and relating with diverse beliefs, perspectives, knowledge and experiences to contribute to more representative arts culture. Ethical relationality is an ecological understanding of human relationality that does not deny difference, but rather seeks to understand more deeply how our different histories and experiences position us in relation to each other. It requires the ability to recognize and hold the tension between different perspectives, allowing them to exist in and enrich the same space, while not attempting to force consensus or sameness.  

One possible tool of ethical relationality in rehearsal practice is called an “ethical tapestry”, a dynamic multimedia document that reveals at specific points in time what behaviours and contexts are conducting the intersubjective relationships in a rehearsal practice. The approach we suggest is intended to be a starting point that can be fully developed and tailored to each specific context. They are not simply principles to state at the beginning of a rehearsal or to include in policy, but guidance for ongoing conscious interaction with the people, artifacts, and spaces in and of rehearsal. 

Peter Farbridge, Concordia University

Peter is a theatre actor and creator working in Montreal, and founding co-artistic director of the Modern Times Stage Company from 1989 to 2022. He coordinates Postmarginal: Inclusive Performing Arts, a project that he initiated at Modern Times, which seeks to encourage new forms of theatre practice fuelled by the practice of marginalized artists. He has an MA in Anthropology and Theatre and joined the faculty of Concordia University as Artist-in-Residence in 2022.

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Break – 15 minutes

11:00 – 12:30 EDT

CATR Associateships and Scholarly Awards

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

12:45 – 14:15 EDT

Lunch on your Own

Location: You decide!

Event Details and Description

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Curriculum Strategies: Building BA Theatre Programs in a Climate of Constraint

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Session organizers: Kimberley McLeod and Jenn Stephenson

Event Details and Description

Session organizers: Kimberley McLeod and Jenn Stephenson

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Two-Day Session, 2:30pm-5:45pm on June 19 & 20

In the face of financial constraint, arising from government underfunding of the postsecondary sector, it is essential that we continue to deliver high-quality student academic experiences. Purposeful, values-driven attention to curriculum structures is central to achieving this goal. 

This seminar centers on the questions: Why study and teach theatre now? How do we decide what is most important in the wake of decreasing resources? The session will provide a forum not only for sharing local contexts and challenges, but more importantly, will offer practical strategies and frameworks for curriculum decision-makers. 

Topics will include: 

• Preparing for, participating in, and responding to cyclical quality assurance processes

• Establishing alignment between program learning outcomes and curriculum architecture

• Using data to produce metrics of curriculum efficiency

• Creating short-term and long-term staffing/hiring plans that are aligned with curriculum

• Integrating and differentiating programs in the disciplinary landscape

• Communicating academic program visions to internal stakeholders like Deans, Provosts, Admissions and Recruitment to ensure necessary resourcing

This session is intended for faculty members who have (or expect to have in the future) roles concerned with curriculum development and revision, including Undergraduate Advisors, Undergraduate Chairs, Chairs of departmental academic planning or curriculum committees, Department Heads/Chairs, and Deans. Note that this session is specifically focused on undergraduate Bachelor of Arts (Honours) programs in theatre/theatre studies and drama, deliberately setting aside graduate programs as well as ‘conservatory’ Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. 

Session structure:

We would like to hold this seminar over 2 3-hour sessions at the in person portion of the conference. We anticipate this being mostly work sessions with the seminar participants only. We plan on having a mix of presentations by curricular chairs, deans and participants with experience working in quality assurance alongside breakout sessions in which participants can dig into specific issues of curricular planning. One hour of the seminar would be open to all conference participants. This hour will feature a discussion of how different programs across the country care for and update their curriculum. 

Preparation for the session:

Participants will respond to a series of self-reflexive questions and also participate in a shared document that breaks down different aspects of BA Theatre curricula across the country. Participants will also prepare short remarks on specific topics (dependent on what areas of curricula they have experience with).

Kimberley McLeod, University of Guelph

Kimberley McLeod is associate professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

Jenn Stephenson, Queen’s University

Jenn Stephenson is professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University and Associate Dean (Academic) Faculty of Arts and Science. 

Resources and Keywords

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14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Environmental Stewardship in Theatre and Performance Education: “Guidebook Launch – Fostering Environmental Stewardship in Theatre and Performance Training Programs” 

Location: Room 0030 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 0030 – Pavilion de la Faculté de l’aménagement – 2940 ch. de la Côte Ste-Catherine – Université de Montréal

(Building 36 on the UdM Map)

In-Person

In its final year, the Environmental Stewardship in Theatre and Performance Education Working Group will create a Guidebook on Fostering Environmental Stewardship in Theatre and Performance Training Programs. It will include recommendations on ecologizing syllabi, forging strategic partnerships across the university, and advocating for climate and ecological responsibility in short and long-term departmental planning.

In our first two year working together, the working group identified many resources for greening theatre and performance practices, as well as broader epistemic shifts that could be implemented in order for theatre and performance makers to become more responsible environmental stewards. In order to disseminate our research to date, and support curricular adjustments across theatre and performance training programs, we would like to launch the Guidebook at the 2024 CATR conference. 

We are open to discussing with conference organizers how to best fit an event or launch of the Guidebook into the conference schedule. The ideal would be to have an opportunity to talk about the Guidebook and point to some of its key ideas to the full conference gathering. It could be a lunch event or part of another larger conference event. If there is not time in the schedule for a full event, then even a 10-minute pitch/announcement about the Guidebook at a time when all attendees are gathered would be appreciated, and then a 60-90 minute working group slot in the schedule for those who want to join us to explore the Guidebook in more depth.

The Environmental Stewardship in Theatre and Performance Education working group has a mission to re-imagine how we teach, document, and prepare students for sustainable practices in theatre and performance that respond to the unfolding climate crisis.

Resources and Keywords

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14:30 – 16:00 EDT

Deep Play Praxis Workshop

Location: Studio I – Concordia University

In-Person

Leader: Thea Fitz-James and e. clayton scofield

 

Event Details and Description

Leader: Thea Fitz-James and e. clayton scofield

Location: Studio I – Concordia University

In-Person Session

This workshop explores collaborative performance methods in creative research though the idea of “deep play”. Facilitated by collaborators Clay and Thea, who co-run the Deep Play Artist Residency annually, this workshop explores how deep play can enhance artist creativity and invite interdisciplinary approaches to creative research and pedagogy.  

The title is inspired by anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s concept of “deep play,” where questions of social ritual are explored through a deep or ‘risky’ commitment to play. By applying this concept to academic research / pedagogy, we aim to create opportunities for researchers/ educators to inhabit the role of the jester in relation to their own research of the social (Augusto Boal). The Deep Play Workshop explores deep play as a methodological approach for creative research and performance-as-research, exploring the possibility of creative risk in controlled and care-based environments.  

Clay and Thea run a summer live-in artist residency where they explore these concepts; for CATR, we’d like to adapt some of our concepts into a 90-min workshop. This workshop combines theory (Thea) and practice (Clay) by (1) introducing our care-driven deep play methodology, (2) inviting participants into activities and games that create opportunities for play and risk and (3) reflect on how this impacts different approaches to creative research and arts pedagogy.  

Thea Fitz-James

Thea Fitz-James (she/her) is a theatre academic and practitioner. She holds a PhD in Performance Studies from York University and is an adjunct assistant professor at Queen’s University. She’s developed two solo shows which have toured the Fringe circuit internationally. She is a white, queer, ‘Mad’, cis-gendered settler. For more: https://www.theafitzjames.com/  

e clayton Scofield

e clayton scofield (clay, they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist and poet who works between and across media to create long-form experiments in self-making and becoming as play. Their creative practice produces documents—including field notes, sculptural artifacts, maps, multichannel video, and performance scores—that are presented through publication, performance, and exhibition.  For more: https://lizclaytonscofield.com/ 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Embodied Research and Knowledge in Performing Arts: The Indigenous, Canadian and Quebec Perspectives

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

Co-leaders: Art Babayants and Carlos Rivera Martinez 

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

Co-leaders: Art Babayants and Carlos Rivera Martinez

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Session

Inspired by the IFTR Embodied Knowledge Working Group, we propose a space of exchange of embodied practices, training, research and knowledge as they pertain to performing arts in what is now called Canada. Participants will be welcome to draw from their own identities, hybridities, abilities, schools of embodied training, sources of knowledge and worldviews in order to share their embodied research enquiries, paradigms, methodologies and findings.  

In an attempt to reimagine and decolonize the academic conference, we will place more value on experiencing and exploring participants’ embodied research through doing/acting rather than language, especially written language. We will invite proposals in a wide range of embodied forms including but not limited to ceremony, ritual, dance, chant, contact improvisation, movement exploration, training exercises, tango, etc. One of the goals of this sharing circle (panel) will be to explore commonalities and differences in embodied knowledge and training as it is applied to general actor/dancer/circus performer education as well as advance the understanding of how embodied research, specifically artistic or pedagogical research can be conducted and shared. Another goal is the inclusion of Land-based performance and/or theatre practices by Indigenous artists, members of racialized communities and immigrants, with special focus on how those practices or methodologies. Additionally, we will encourage reflections on teaching movement techniques from a diversity of movement approaches and methodologies. 

Carlos Rivera

Carlos Rivera is a director, choreographer, actor and a dancer, originally from Mexico City.

He graduated from the Indigenous Residency Program at National Theatre School in 2018 and recently graduated from the MFA in Directing for Theatre Program at the University of Ottawa. Carlos has worked and collaborated with several performing arts companies across Canada including Red Sky Performance (Toronto), Globe Theatre (Regina), Raven Spirit Dance (Vancouver), MT Space (Kitchener), Puente Theatre (Victoria), Ondinnok (Montreal) Lemon Tree Creations (Toronto) Electric Company (Vancouver) Micro-Scope Productions (Montreal); among others. He is continuously working on numerous artistic projects in dance, film, theatre and performance.

Art Babayants, Bishop’s University

Dr. Art Babayants/ Արտ Բաբայանց is a Canadian-Armenian theatre artist-scholar who has worked  in Russia, Malta, Latvia, Bulgaria, the UK, the USA, and Canada. He founded his first theatre company in 2004 and almost reluctantly started a directing career, which eventually comprised musicals, such as Share and Share Alike (2007), Seussical. The Musical (2009 and 2018), Gypsy (2011), Godspell (2014 and 2021), and Spring Awakening (2019); contemporary Canadian drama, including Couldn’t We Be (2008), The…Musician: An Etude (2012 and 2014), and Wine&Halva (2020-2023). His best-known work, a devised collaborative multilingual production “In Sundry Languages” was presented at Toronto Fringe (2017) and Caminos (2017) and called by NOW ‘a compelling critique of Canadian inclusiveness’. Art teaches at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, QC.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

Break – 15 minutes

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Curriculum Strategies: Building BA Theatre Programs in a Climate of Constraint

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Session organizers: Kimberley McLeod and Jenn Stephenson

Event Details and Description

Session organizers: Kimberley McLeod and Jenn Stephenson

Location: Room 1140  – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Two-Day Session, 2:30pm-5:45pm on June 19 & 20

In the face of financial constraint, arising from government underfunding of the postsecondary sector, it is essential that we continue to deliver high-quality student academic experiences. Purposeful, values-driven attention to curriculum structures is central to achieving this goal. 

This seminar centers on the questions: Why study and teach theatre now? How do we decide what is most important in the wake of decreasing resources? The session will provide a forum not only for sharing local contexts and challenges, but more importantly, will offer practical strategies and frameworks for curriculum decision-makers. 

Topics will include: 

• Preparing for, participating in, and responding to cyclical quality assurance processes

• Establishing alignment between program learning outcomes and curriculum architecture

• Using data to produce metrics of curriculum efficiency

• Creating short-term and long-term staffing/hiring plans that are aligned with curriculum

• Integrating and differentiating programs in the disciplinary landscape

• Communicating academic program visions to internal stakeholders like Deans, Provosts, Admissions and Recruitment to ensure necessary resourcing

This session is intended for faculty members who have (or expect to have in the future) roles concerned with curriculum development and revision, including Undergraduate Advisors, Undergraduate Chairs, Chairs of departmental academic planning or curriculum committees, Department Heads/Chairs, and Deans. Note that this session is specifically focused on undergraduate Bachelor of Arts (Honours) programs in theatre/theatre studies and drama, deliberately setting aside graduate programs as well as ‘conservatory’ Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. 

Session structure:

We would like to hold this seminar over 2 3-hour sessions at the in person portion of the conference. We anticipate this being mostly work sessions with the seminar participants only. We plan on having a mix of presentations by curricular chairs, deans and participants with experience working in quality assurance alongside breakout sessions in which participants can dig into specific issues of curricular planning. One hour of the seminar would be open to all conference participants. This hour will feature a discussion of how different programs across the country care for and update their curriculum. 

Preparation for the session:

Participants will respond to a series of self-reflexive questions and also participate in a shared document that breaks down different aspects of BA Theatre curricula across the country. Participants will also prepare short remarks on specific topics (dependent on what areas of curricula they have experience with).

Kimberley McLeod, University of Guelph

Kimberley McLeod is associate professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

Jenn Stephenson, Queen’s University

Jenn Stephenson is professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University and Associate Dean (Academic) Faculty of Arts and Science. 

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Digital Performance: “Teaching and Learning: AI in/as/for Digital Performance”

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

Location: Room 1140 – Pavilion André Aidenstadt – 2920 chemin de la tour – Université de Montréal

(Building 19 on the UdM Map)

In-Person Session

For the third year of our collaborations as the Digital Performance Working Group we will focus our in-person seminar as a teach-in on how to engage AI within the performance studies classroom. This will consist of a teach-in where members of the group will individually present 10-15 min presentations on how they engage AI through teaching exercises, reflections on in-the-class experiences with using AI, and interventions into prevailing debates around the uses and dangers of AI for learning. We will invite the audience to participate in discussion throughout and build together a set of resources for future sharing.

Members of working group 2023-2024 – Kim McLeod (Assistant Professor, University of Guelph); Shana MacDonald (Associate Professor, University of Waterloo); Michael Wheeler (Assistant Professor, Queen’s University); Laura Levin (Associate Professor, York University); Peter Kuling (Assistant Professor, University of Guelph); Sebastian Samur (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto); Catherine Quirk (Lecturer, Edge Hill Univeristy UK); Jayna Mees (PhD Student, York University); Naomi Bennett (Instructor, Louisiana State University); Tara Harris (PhD Candidate, York University); Michael Bergmann (PhD Student; University of Toronto); Mark Lipton (Professor, University of Guelph); Taylor Graham (PhD Candidate; University of Guelph)

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

16:15 – 17:45 EDT

Practicing Spaciousness: Making room for Contemplation and Collective Resilience in Performance Training

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person/Hybrid

Leader: Gabriela Petrov

Event Details and Description

Leader: Gabriela Petrov

Location: Room 7-270, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person/Hybrid Session

For over seven years I have been investigating how contemplative practices can support artists in performance training. In order to contemplate, we have no choice but to slow down and make space for our experience. This “slowing down” has become integral to my pedagogy as I teach artists in and outside of universities. I have taught this approach at Concordia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning to faculty from around the world and have collaborated with contemplative practice pioneers Wendell Beavers and Erika Berland. It is my experience that a contemplative or “spacious” approach allows room for an artist’s process to breathe and also fosters collectivity and resilience among students because of the solidarity required to truly sit with our own body/mind in this present moment. With the workshop, I will give participants a lived experience of this spacious pedagogy as I currently practice it. Participants will encounter rituals, a conscious approach to “time” in facilitation, contemplative movement practices and guided discussions that encourage collectivity and individual somatic awareness. I would consider this workshop a continuation of my inquiry about this approach and would make conscious space for comments to be shared. The workshop will include movement exploration, but this should not discourage anyone who isn’t experienced to participate. Folks can simply observe, or participate at whatever scale they are comfortable. I aim to be flexible and curious to incorporate anyone who shows up with an interest to participate.

Gabriela Petrov

Gabriela Petrov is an artist based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal. She has taught performance practices at Concordia, McGill and Naropa University. She draws from the Viewpoints approach, Body-Mind Centering®, and Contemplative Dance Practice, which she studied under Barbara Dilley. In her own artistic work, she uses movement improvisation to explore performance and reality.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords

14:30 – 17:45 EDT

Embodied Research and Knowledge in Performing Arts: The Indigenous, Canadian and Quebec Perspectives

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

Co-leaders: Art Babayants and Carlos Rivera Martinez 

In-Person Session

Event Details and Description

Co-leaders: Art Babayants and Carlos Rivera Martinez

Location: Room 7-425, 7th Floor – John Molson Building, 1450 Rue Guy – Concordia University

In-Person Session

Inspired by the IFTR Embodied Knowledge Working Group, we propose a space of exchange of embodied practices, training, research and knowledge as they pertain to performing arts in what is now called Canada. Participants will be welcome to draw from their own identities, hybridities, abilities, schools of embodied training, sources of knowledge and worldviews in order to share their embodied research enquiries, paradigms, methodologies and findings.  

In an attempt to reimagine and decolonize the academic conference, we will place more value on experiencing and exploring participants’ embodied research through doing/acting rather than language, especially written language. We will invite proposals in a wide range of embodied forms including but not limited to ceremony, ritual, dance, chant, contact improvisation, movement exploration, training exercises, tango, etc. One of the goals of this sharing circle (panel) will be to explore commonalities and differences in embodied knowledge and training as it is applied to general actor/dancer/circus performer education as well as advance the understanding of how embodied research, specifically artistic or pedagogical research can be conducted and shared. Another goal is the inclusion of Land-based performance and/or theatre practices by Indigenous artists, members of racialized communities and immigrants, with special focus on how those practices or methodologies. Additionally, we will encourage reflections on teaching movement techniques from a diversity of movement approaches and methodologies. 

Carlos Rivera

Carlos Rivera is a director, choreographer, actor and a dancer, originally from Mexico City.

He graduated from the Indigenous Residency Program at National Theatre School in 2018 and recently graduated from the MFA in Directing for Theatre Program at the University of Ottawa. Carlos has worked and collaborated with several performing arts companies across Canada including Red Sky Performance (Toronto), Globe Theatre (Regina), Raven Spirit Dance (Vancouver), MT Space (Kitchener), Puente Theatre (Victoria), Ondinnok (Montreal) Lemon Tree Creations (Toronto) Electric Company (Vancouver) Micro-Scope Productions (Montreal); among others. He is continuously working on numerous artistic projects in dance, film, theatre and performance.

Art Babayants, Bishop’s University

Dr. Art Babayants/ Արտ Բաբայանց is a Canadian-Armenian theatre artist-scholar who has worked  in Russia, Malta, Latvia, Bulgaria, the UK, the USA, and Canada. He founded his first theatre company in 2004 and almost reluctantly started a directing career, which eventually comprised musicals, such as Share and Share Alike (2007), Seussical. The Musical (2009 and 2018), Gypsy (2011), Godspell (2014 and 2021), and Spring Awakening (2019); contemporary Canadian drama, including Couldn’t We Be (2008), The…Musician: An Etude (2012 and 2014), and Wine&Halva (2020-2023). His best-known work, a devised collaborative multilingual production “In Sundry Languages” was presented at Toronto Fringe (2017) and Caminos (2017) and called by NOW ‘a compelling critique of Canadian inclusiveness’. Art teaches at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, QC.

Resources and Keywords

Keywords