The joint Association for Theatre in Higher Education/American Society for Theatre Research Subcommittee on Non-Print Publishing, convened last year by Bob Schanke, Chair of ATHE’s Committee on Research and Publications, recommends that digital scholarship be included as a legitimate indicator of achievement in hiring, tenure, and promotion in theatre and performance studies. Furthermore, it recommends that our organizations celebrate and promote excellence in digital scholarship in our conferences and publications.
The subcommittee shared its recommendations in the form of a white paper, presented at the ATHE conference in Orlando in August, and submitted to the ASTR Executive Committee this fall. ATHE and ASTR are currently in the process of vetting the recommendations.
The white paper can be viewed by clicking on this link:
Edited by Pil Hansen with Darcey Callison and Bruce Barton
Taking the temperature of the field, this issue offers unprecedented insight into a broad range of dance and movement dramaturgy positions in Canada and beyond. The contributions are written by artists and artist-scholars from across the country who share a deep investment in dramaturgy, and whose voices are brought together for the first time to articulate strategies, approaches, and choices. Elizabeth Langley, Katya Montaignac, Jacob Zimmer, Heidi Taylor, Guy Cools, and Carol Anderson, among others, elaborate on the role of dramaturgs from within the lengthy and complex process of creating dance and movement-based material. Their reflections involve dramaturgs’ development of creative strategies, their awareness of the relationship between approaches to generation and emerging compositional possibilities, their grounding in the training, strengths, and limitations of the dancers, and their acute sensitivity to interpersonal relationships and modes of perception. Their insights are further enriched by two dramaturgy-driven performance recipes/texts: AdaptationProject by Michael Trent and Dancemakers and Transmission by Tanya Marquardt.
Click here for free access to the editorial and view the table of contents.
This is the first issue of CTR to address the development and production of performances in Canada that are rooted in the Jewish experience. Artists and scholars re-imagine traditional representations of Jewish culture, history, and ritual and highlight the diverse forms that Jewish performance has taken in contemporary Canadian contexts: from plays on Jewish themes, to site-specific Jewish theatre, to Yiddish parades, to queer re-stagings of religious practice, to intermedia installations of mythic Jewish spaces. Many contributors explore Jewish identity as a performance that takes place both on and offstage; in so doing, they resist fixed understandings of what it means to be Jewish, and explore Jewish identity as it is formed through multiple affiliations, alliances, and communities. In narrating questions of self-definition, they ask how Jewish performance intersects with other diasporic communities to create new intercultural forms, and they investigate the importance of Jewish performance practices that actively negotiate cultural inequities and socio-political realities.
Click here to read the introduction and view the table of contents.
Costumes are perhaps the least ephemeral element of a performance – how we come to think of them is the theme. This issue is unique as it features a portfolio of costume design research by François Barbeau, rather than a script. Full colour images with remarks by Barbeau narrate aspects of his research of costume materials at the Cirque du Soleil Research and Development lab. The nine featured articles emphasize the designing, making, wearing, and exhibiting of costumes. Interviews maintain ongoing dialogues with performance: design practice for First Nations performance; designing as collaborative dramaturgy; conceptualizing a Queen Mas for the Caribbean Carnival; wearing costumes at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival; and creating and managing the costume wardrobe for the Vancouver Olympics. Alongside these interviews are reflections on the process of bringing costumes out of performance and into the exhibition hall, without replacing actors by mannequins. Notes from the technological animation of the “catwalk” for Jean Paul Gaultier’s retrospective show affinities between performance and displays of fashion design. The issue is rounded out by advocacy to confront the status of designers in the contractual relations of professional theatre in Canada.
Click here to read the introduction and view the table of contents.
Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights. NYU Press, 2011
Flynn, Richard. “Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights.” The Lion and the Unicorn, 36.2, April 2012. available online [may require subscriber login].
Bak, Meredith A.. “Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights. Robin Bernstein. New York: New York University Press, 2011. 318 pp. $22.80 paperback.” Journal of Popular Culture*, v. 45 issue 4, 2012, p. 913.
Melancon, T.C. “Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights.” Choice 6/2012 Vol. 49, issue 10 p.1854.
The editors of theatre-historiography.org bid a fond farewell to Assistant Editor Oona Hatton as she finishes her year of service on the website! Oona came on board last summer with a wealth of enthusiasm and fantastic suggestions for the sites’ various features, and has tirelessly worked behind the scenes to help us provide great resources and content to the academic theatre world over the past year. Oona is a terrific scholar and a dream to work with. We’ll miss her terribly and wish her all the best in her next endeavors!
The idea for my essay, and the classroom exercises it treats, came out of a moment in which I realized I was not doing the kind of historiography to which I was holding others accountable.
I’d been researching several living museum sites that used “second person” programming, where program designers invite visitors to “do” history instead of just passively experiencing it through exhibits and/or traditional living history encounters. I could see how these emerging practices were promising but also limited: At the sites I was visiting, the programs were basically scripting museum visitors’ behavior. While giving them the illusion of choice, they actually didn’t allow participants much room to depart from the story the program designers laid out.
One program I thought could do better was “Follow the North Star” an Underground Railroad reenactment at Conner Prairie in Indiana, where museum visitors step into the role of black slaves trying to escape to freedom in the north. “Follow the North Star” has all the elements of what I’m calling performative learner-driven historiography: visitors are assigned characters, given a scenario, equipped with information, and put into the field to solve a problem (escape to Cass County, Michigan, or all the way to Canada, without being caught by police or bounty hunters, by picking up the codes and finding abolitionist Quakers and other allies), but plants in the group make sure our choices always follow the pre-set path (we aren’t allowed to make the “wrong choice” and see how the consequences play out, then try again, as I would like to see in such a program).
I offered “Follow the North Star” and other programs some suggestions for improvement in a couple of articles, looking to Forum Theatre from Boal’s Teatro Oprimido for a model, but it became quickly evident to me that if I was expecting this kind of pedagogy from my research sites, I’d be hypocritical not to work it into my own theatre history and performance studies classrooms. So, I tried it out, beginning in Spring of 2008, my first year teaching graduate theatre history and performance studies at Bowling Green State University. This essay represents some of my initial findings, and an invitation to others to try it out.
I haven’t been at it for long, and the results have, of course, been mixed. I’ve also been surprised or made uncomfortable on occasion by my students’ choices. The black-face minstrelsy reenactment I walked into for one class, mentioned briefly in the essay, had me wondering whether I needed to shut the whole thing down (the students had told me they’d be presenting on vaudeville—a little white lie, as it were). But they knew what they were doing: The blacked-up students weren’t the protagonists of the reenactment. The other students and I were. We were the ones being confronted with a dilemma and forced to make a decision. At what point we intervene and stop them from performing? It took us longer than it should have to do so, and that was a learning experience.
My essay is more of a provocation than a handbook for doing this kind of work in the classroom. As the example above would indicate, I’m still working out the bugs myself. As a provocation, the second-person voice I use in the essay is an attempt to model second-person museum programming and pedagogy, and I had to bone up a bit on “textual” or “narrative-You” strategies from literary studies (see Bruce Morissette, “Narrative ‘You’ in Contemporary Literature, Comparative Literature Studies 2 (1965), 1-24, reprinted and expanded in Morissette, Novel and Film: Essays in Two Genres [Chicago, U of Chicago P, 1985] 108-40; and David Herman, “Textual ‘You’ and Double Deixis in Edna O’Brien’s A Pagan Place,” Style 28.3 [Fall 1994] 378-411).
Does it work? It kind of ends up scripting your experience though the essay (cf. Matt delConte, “Why You Can’t Speak: Second-Person Narration, Voice, and a New Model for Understanding Narrative,” Style 37.2 [Summer 2003] 204-219, which argues for a multiplicity of voice variables in narrative). Henry and I batted around the idea in early stages that I might rewrite it a “choose your own adventure” piece, where readers could have a bit more agency throughout. The four-thousand word limit we set for each essay, however, made this a bit more of a challenge than I could figure out how to solve.
But, to even be aware that you’ve got possible responses that fall outside the narrative I’ve scripted puts you squarely into what Stuart Hall calls a negotiated reading (Hall, “Encoding/decoding,” Ed. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, ed., Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-79 [London: Hutchinson, 1980] 128-38). And, if we look to Marvin Carlson’s take on reader-response theory, we can say that you the reader have a lot of agency in whether to co-produce and actualize the readings produced by the author (Marvin Carlson, “Theatre Audiences and the Reading of Performance,” Interpreting the Theatrical Past. Ed. Thomas Postlewait and Bruce A. McConachie [Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989]).
So, feel free to read this essay with a healthy amount of resistance. You’re making its meaning as much as is the author.
In this video: The editors of Theater-Historiography.org pulled a few scholars aside at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education 2011 Conference in Chicago and asked them about their current projects. Here’s what they told us.
Welcome to theater-historiography.org! Here, you’ll find a number of resources and scholarly conversations that we hope will be valuable to your research and pedagogy, whether you are a student, emerging, or established scholar. Read More
Theater historiography means the study of the foundational assumptions, principles, and methodologies that determine how theater history is written. To practice theater historiography means to look beyond the record of “what happened” to analyze how and why such records are constructed. Read More