Performing Emergence: RePlay, ReCollect, ReExist

Whittaker, Robin C. | $25,000

New Brunswick St. Thomas University 2021 SSHRC

Performing Emergence: RePlay, ReCollect, ReExist

A recent theme issue of Canadian Theatre Review (CTR) titled « Theatre After the Explosion » published writings about theatre in Canada during the pandemic. Wrote award-winning theatre artist Nick Green, « I don’t even know when my next haircut will be. Well, my hair has been trimmed, months have passed, but sadly the answer is not clearer than it was before. Rather, what I have to offer from this experience are more questions » (Green 2021). Still, Green concludes, « I had no idea that in the months to follow, I would feel the most connected that I’ve felt in my entire artistic life. » As the pandemic makes social and environmental problems more explicit and urgent than ever, it challenges us to reimagine performing arts activities and spaces, and the study of them. Performing Emergence is dedicated to creating space for scholarly and artistic exchange on the future of theatre in a post-pandemic world.

This international and bilingual conference will gather, disseminate, influence, and ignite conversations in theatre. While CATR has a long history of organizing annual scholarly conferences in large urban centres, this event proposes a hybrid conference in three « Acts » hosted by three small/midsized universities: online by St. Thomas University (May 27-28, 2022) and the University of Toronto Scarborough (June 6-7), and in-person and online by the University of Lethbridge (June 12-14), supported by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR). Session formats will accommodate various modes of live knowledge mobilization, including keynotes, paper panels, roundtables, seminars, working groups, praxis workshops, and performances. Sessions will be live-streamed and archived. Featured sessions will by translated into the other official language and sign language. Graduate students and emerging scholars will be trained and mentored in event planning and management, and benefit from professional training and networking sessions.

Pandemic-inspired discourses are emerging from all corners of drama, theatre, dance, and performance studies. What can we learn about the concept of « emergence » as it influences and reflects theatre practices? How are theatre scholars and artists interpreting, interrogating, responding to, and offering ways to emerge out of the COVID‑19 pandemic and its interwoven emergencies, including climate change, pre-existing health care crises, and economic barriers and inequities? How does theatre scholarship respond to the ways in which Indigenous and racialized experiences, sexual orientation, and gender identity continue to be impacted by these emergencies? How do we emerge from them? To borrow from Adolfo Albán Achinte’s concept of « re-existence » as it pertains to racialized, excluded, and marginalized people, how can we propel re-existence and empower identities, bodies, and ways of knowing at a moment when decolonizing efforts are a matter of survival?

The scholarly benefits of Performing Emergence are two-fold. First, the event will facilitate research connections and the co-creation of knowledge of new creative processes among scholars while advancing knowledge of the emergence of theatrical practices during the pandemic, in spite of the challenges faced by university, professional, and community theatre spaces. Second, in offering a hybrid online/in-person conference, we are supporting accessibility, particularly financially, among our students and unaffiliated colleagues, as well as eco-responsibility, including awareness of our carbon footprint. Research presented at the conference will be published in both languages in special issues of Theatre Research in Canada and Canadian Theatre Review, and in performances that will emerge from Performing Emergence.

Avec un financement du Gouvernement du Canada

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