“The photograph of Aylan Kurdi [×497.jpg], the Syrian child from Kobane whose body washed up on a Turkish beach, has sparked a “light bulb moment” in the heads and hearts of European public and policymakers alike – forcing both significant debate and new policy towards the refugee crisis.”

-James Denselow, Al Jazeera English 8 Sept. 2015

What is a light bulb moment?

In David Grieg’s eerily prescient play Europe (1994), the cast of characters assemble as a chorus at the beginning of each act (Scenes 2 and 9, to be specific)—each actor identified in the script as a number, not as a named character—and offer descriptions of the play’s time and place to the audience:

1 Ours is a small town on the border, at various times on this side,

2 and,

3 at various times,

2 on the other,

1 but always

1,2,3 on the border.

4 We’re famous for our soup,

5 for our factory which makes lightbulbs

1 and for being on the border.

These manufacturers of soup and light live in a town that, like a rock in the sea, has been washed over by the ebb and flow of warring armies, political and economic interests, and, soon, inevitably, tourists. The identity of the town has been rubbed off. The text hints at the erasure of the town and its people even before the characters speak: “Setting: A small decaying provincial town in Europe. Autumn.” Unlike Autumn, however, a natural and recurring event, or for that matter a rock smoothed into sand by the sea, the decay and erosion of this unnamed European border town results from man-made causes.

I am not sure why Grieg chooses soup and lightbulbs, except that, by doing so, perhaps he offers a spectrum of use-values. Soup to sustain the body. Light to protect the body from darkness. Together, soup and light to nourish the soul and the intellect. Regardless of the meaning, I am confident that Grieg offered a synecdoche of 1994 Europe in his depiction of this small decaying town and by doing so should have sparked a “light bulb moment” to ward off the darkness of racism and economic exploitation that was, at that time, mounting.

The play comments on numerous issues through Grieg multi-layered dramaturgical style. One worth mentioning here is the connection between monetary (in)stability (perhaps thinking of the coming Euro currency) and the hocus-pocus of money changing. The character Morocco, a man who has discovered how to make a living through his mastery of the magic of trade, lays the situation bare:

Morocco         This is what the border is. See…?

Berlin             What?

Morocco         A magic money line. See. You pass something across it and it’s suddenly worth more. Pass it across again and now it’s cheaper. More…less…less…more…fags, drink, jobs, cars…less is more, more or less…see? Magic money just for crossing a magic line. I’m not a smuggler, I’m a magician, an illusionist. There’s no crime in that.


Morocco         I swear to God it’s a conjuring trick. Swear to God. Give me a dollar…abracadabra…I give you roubles back…give me some roubles…come on…give…hey presto…Deutschmarks. It’s all imaginary…none of it’s real, none. You just have to think up the trick…it’s easy.

Looking for contemporary resonance? If we shift our attention to Greece and the never-ending discussion of bailouts, I think we’ll be able to return to Grieg’s play and discern the satire in Morocco’s character. But Berlin, the character with whom Morocco shares his secrets, does not find anything amusing. Berlin—a name laden with historical significance—seems to prove Dan Rebellato’s statement in Theatre & Globalization: “The geographical boundaries of a country are often the arbitrary sediment of centuries of historical processes. Yet they can take on symbolic importance in the national imagination and any penetration of these boundaries, real or imagined, can cause a convulsion of national feeling” (xvi). For Morocco, who no longer pledges any allegiance to the small town where he and Berlin grew up, the border is porous. For Berlin, this porosity and Morocco’s carefree jaunts back and forth through the pores, such a situation amounts to an attack on his way of life.

These two causes in particular bring tragedy to Fret, the local station agent, and his daughter Adele: economic destabilization at the cusp of Europe’s transformation into the European Union and rage; rage focused at the flood of immigrants coming into the town by locals Berlin, Horse, and Billy who believe immigrants—whom they refer to as Flying Boat People—will take their jobs and their money. Again, this twenty-year-old play starts to sound familiar. Grieg managed to capture not only the social, political, and economic forces that contributed to Europe’s internal fracturing in 1994 but also the human habits that ensure the repetition of history. (Consider and consult the following links:×451.jpg)

Economic decline shows itself in the play’s setting, a train station that Grieg describes as “a forgotten place [that] bears witness to the past century’s methods of government.” The rage of the townspeople amplifies upon news of the station’s closing, the announcement of layoffs at the light bulb factory, and the arrival of Sava and Katia, a father and daughter who are escaping an unnamed war-torn landscape. For Sava and Katia, the train station acts as a threshold between an old life of violence and uncertainty, to one side, and a new life of stability and hope, to the other. The townspeople, however, see the same train station, which becomes a makeshift immigrant camp for the two refugees, as the threshold between the old Europe that brought them economic stability and the new Europe that makes no promises at all.

Due to their different ages, Sava and Katia have different expectations about the Europe of the north to which they are fleeing. Grieg crafts the viewpoints of all his characters into a kaleidoscopic view of 1994 Europe. In particular, though, Sava’s and Katia’s perspective from the bottom, as it were, offer his European (at first English and Scottish) audience members a vivid portrait of the violence waging just to the south as well as the myth of Northern European Enlightenment that supposedly keeps the north safe.

Sava    […] Katia, we’re not in some savage country on the other side of the world. Look around you, look at the architecture. Listen to the sounds from the street. You can smell the forest. We’re a long way from home but we’re still in Europe. We’ll be looked after. Our situation will be understood.

Katia  Europe. Snipers on the roofs, mortars in the suburbs, and you said: ‘This is Europe…we must stay in Europe.’ So we stayed, even after the food ran out: ‘This is Europe.’ When the hospitals were left with nothing but alcohol and dirty bandages. I warned you and you still said: ‘This is Europe. Honesty will prevail, sense will win, this war is an aberration…a tear in the fabric. In time it’ll be sewn up again and things will look as good as new.’

Things, however, do not begin to improve for the two immigrants or for Fret and Adele who would like to help them. Berlin and Horse conspire to enact revenge against these boat people who will surely take their jobs and steal their way of life. Fueled by hate and ignorance, the two characters eventually set the train station ablaze. Grieg dramatizes this action by having Berlin narrate the events to the audience:

Berlin On the news the fireman said the station was a tinderbox. He said it was criminal. Criminal that it could have been left in that condition. They didn’t have a chance he said. No one stood a chance in that place. Criminal.


At first we just saw the light inside. Just an orange glow inside and then some smore. It was a clear night so we could see the smoke rising. Even from that distance we could feel it warm. AMAZING. (He holds out the back of his hand.)

Katia and Adele manage to make it out. They escape on a train for destinations unknown before the bombing occurs. Fret and Sava do not escape. The darkness of the scene culminates in the final words, which Grieg decides to give to Berlin: “They know that, in our own way, we’re also Europe.”

That is to say, “we,” the good and the bad, the left and the right, the center and the margins, the awake and the sleeping, the hopeful and the hopeless, the terrorists and the terrorized, we’re all Europe. If this play, written 20 years ago, didn’t have the power to enact lasting change for the minorities of Europe or to prevent the public from being duped about the sleight-of-hand economics of the European Union, it is hard to imagine that an image of a dead child on a beach will make an impact now. The “light bulb moment” alluded to by the Al Jazeera journalist may only be a flash, more like the final moments of the forgotten light bulb factory in Europe than an enduring Enlightenment.



CTR_163_SUMMER2015_100 DPI

CTR 163 (Summer 2015)
Performance Futures: Imagining Theatre in 2030

Edited by Jenn Stephenson and Laura Levin

Also available on Project MUSE

CTR 163 (Summer 2015): Performance Futures: Imagining Theatre in 2030, edited by Jenn Stephenson and Laura Levin, explores very recent innovations in theatre and performance, and asks what they can tell us about where the field is headed. Focusing on new formats of theatrical production and reception, contributors have been invited to answer the question: “What will the performance landscape in Canada look like in fifteen years?” This is not theatre in a distant sci-fi future but theatre that is just around the corner. The assembled collection brings together voices that are passionate and visionary, and address such disparate topics as the future of theatre in online venues, the future of interculturalism and cultural diversity in theatre, the future of theatre funding, and the future of theatre criticism. The script featured in this issue is Concord Floral, winner of the 2015 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play. Written by Governor General Award-winning playwright Jordan Tannahill, and co-created with acclaimed artists Erin Brubacher and Cara Spooner along with a group of exceptional Toronto teens, this powerful text exhibits alternative ways of representing the lives of tomorrow’s youth as well as more ecologically responsive human futures. Concord Floral is accompanied by an arresting series of staged photo-portraits by Erin Brubacher, which help reconceptualize the boundaries of a theatrical script and production.

Click here to read the full table of contents.

For more information about the Canadian TheatreReview or for submissions information, please contact:

Canadian Theatre Review
University of Toronto Press, Journals Division
5201 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON M3H 5T8, Canada
Tel: (416) 667-7810 Fax: (416) 667-7881
Fax Toll Free in North America 1-800-221-9985


This spring (2015) I led a graduate seminar in the Center for Performance Studies at the University of Washington called “Emerging Discourses in Theatre and Performance Studies.” Throughout the ten-week term, we discussed readings in three areas: Ecocriticism, the Cognitive Sciences, and Affect Theory. Each of these areas represented discursive “turns,” that is, conversations that have emerged fairly recently in our fields and do not seem to be going away soon. The goal for the seminar, then, was for the students to become familiar with these discourses, so that they would be at the very least conversant with them in reading and at conferences, and, even better, equipped with “tool belts” of helpful concepts and resources for their own research.

We devoted roughly three weeks to a crash-course in each area, reading essays from special journal issues and collections and discussing them in the seminar. One of the benefits of taking on contemporary scholarly conversations was that when we had questions or confusions about particular concepts or arguments, we could contact many of the working scholars in the field to ask them directly, and our colleagues in the field were generous, thoughtful and timely in their responses. At the end of each unit, the students compiled a working inventory of provocative key terms and concepts that gave some shape to the conversation and that could serve as indexes for future term papers, dissertation chapters, conference presentations and publications.

Attached are .pdf files of our inventories, along with a syllabus for the course. We hope they might be useful springboards for a larger collective of scholars engaged in these conversations.

Additions, corrections, and suggestions are welcome in the comments section, below.


Seminar Participants: Monica Cortés-Viharo (Drama), Jay Eckard (Drama), Duygu Erdoğan Monson (Drama), Storm S. Sundberg (Dance), Robert Wighs (Drama). With thanks to Monica Cortés-Viharo for transcribing and organizing the inventories, and to Rhonda Blair, Amy Cook, Baz Kershaw, and Theresa May.


I fumbled, I shifted, I repeatedly ran my fingers over the scars made by boxknife blades on the back of my hands, I touched the raised flesh hidden under the hair of my head, a reminder of those who tried to squash the queer materiality of the punkified presence I had imposed upon the quaint rural community of pre-internet Sand Springs, Oklahoma; I recalled the hunger pangs and acrid smells of the Los Angeles streets. As I sat listening to the keynote address from Dr. Irma Mayorga of Dartmouth, I could not help but run over the past traumas of my body, desperately searching for evidence of suffering. Why?

Mayorga’s speech was a blend of biography and social analysis that made visible markers of race (a predominantly externally regulated category) and ethnicity (a more agential category in its uptake) central. She is the first Latina to receive a doctorate from Stanford’s Drama Department, and her personal exploration of the techniques of policing the raced body was inscribed in her phenotype as much as her words. None of the stories and representations she encountered in the dramatic canon resembled her world, those colored bodies who looked like her and populated that world, or the stories attached to and circulating around those colored bodies. She has continually sought to rectify this.

Opposed to the brown, marginalized body is of course the neutral (yet masculine) gleam of whiteness, a historically and ontologically (through discursive reinforcement) disembodied positionality in all its hegemonic force and appeal. Whiteness is concerned with white history, the great man theory—as long as those great men are white with a few tokenistic gestures to the Frederick Douglasses and Luis Valdezes thrown into the mix. Whiteness is not a body, certainly not my body, though I benefit from its categorical deployment. Whiteness is a way of looking, of appraising, of rising above the body. It too has its phenotypic markers that must be filled in with history, rhetoric, and the deflation of affect. It is not my body, or at least my embodied experience in total, but I bear its marks and benefits.

At these conferences we are all about the embodied experience, embodied epistemologies, affective ways of knowing, phenomenological bodies (a term Harvey Young prefers), and the body as a political site of resistance, containment, and surveillance. But as I looked around the conference room I saw many souls uncomfortable in their fair skinned bodies: a spasm, a fidget, a twitch, a look down, a forced smile. In sum, consciousness was reversing Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological schema, knowledge was attempting to de-situate, to transcend the material and the flux of subject-object, and leave behind only the trace of a mechanical nod of the head.

Yes, we white theatre scholars were fulfilling the mandate of whiteness to rise above our bodies, but realizing the impossibility of doing so. Why? Because in some ways to agree with Dr. Mayorga was to reject those benefits of Caucasian phenotype, to possibly deny oneself a job, publication, or field of study. No one of course mentioned this, but that potential move from imaginary to actuality was nonetheless there. No one wanted his or her body to plunge itself back into debates on affirmative action, especially to find that body on the “wrong” side, that side that centers the self as it partakes of fruits of domination. (And unfortunately, sometimes affirmative action only affirms systemic racism if its actions do not go deep and wide enough).

So I (unconsciously at the time) searched my body for its history, its marks of travail, poverty, homelessness, hunger, violence, those typically un-white varieties of experience—no doubt to make myself feel better because I agreed with Mayorga in many of her assessments. But also I considered my bodily exploration an act of theorizing, of connecting, of perhaps destabilizing categories, of potentially empathizing and connecting with other embodied agents. The body is a repository of memory and this could be where we start.

At the University of Washington many of our students share an East Asian heritage (of course, a multi-sited heritage or heritages), but the curriculum centers upon Anglophone or European traditions of performance. Some lament that there is no common base of analysis in the classroom: Haven’t any of these students read Hamlet? Don’t they know Oedipus? But rather than seeing this problematic as an insuperable obstacle, I take it as an opportunity. John Dewey writes of publics as formed around and by problems, and this “problem” of no Hamlet, no Oedipus, can force open (if an instructor is receptive) a dialogic encounter rather than a unidirectional lecture–the continual dialectic of wrestling with the ostensibly incommensurable clutter of objects between cultures.

I carry no utopian visions that a comprehensive shared language is developed, but rather that common terms are learned or created together in order to deal with new problems; the canon is shifted, adjusted, refracted, enlarged etc. In short, we theorize through the body, through co-presence, through expanding the frame of critique to include entities of association usually excluded–to realize anew the network of agents. Treating histories as bodies treated as repositories of clashes, trauma, failures, problems and yes, affects, jouissance, hopes and alliances. Let us ask considerate questions: considerate because they consider the presence of individuals, of interests, of difference. To deny this is to deny a situatedness that extends beyond the self. I study animals and other life forms, and argue with them for better treatment and an adjustment and extension of certain rights, so I am always willing to look beyond the flat ontology of whiteness, but its push and pull is always there, circumscribing possibilities of imagination if one is not vigilant or diligent in his or her resistance.

So as I mentally return to that MATC luncheon, I again think about my embodied history, but what about all those bodies marked in various ways that got me there: human bodies, animal bodies, plant bodies, rock bodies? I think of what has been de-emphasized from political belonging to become my resource, my means to an end, and I again, feeling uncomfortable and guilty, “reach for the scars.” But let me not stop there. Let me gesture towards another’s scars and inquire. Let us notice our scars. Let us think beyond sight to embodied histories rich with sounds, smells, tastes and the tactile. Let us be truly theatrical in our sharing—cordoning off time and space to listen, see, and experience the other. Students should never be considered an obstacle or a means to an end. Differences, gaps in understanding, blank stares are all opportunities for reflection both on the self and what we consider external to the self. Perhaps I receive blank stares (which I sometimes do) because I am not asking interesting questions about interesting things because I am not being expansive enough in my definition of interests. So where I land after this impromptu foray into memory is in a place where I am no longer just looking at my scars or reflecting upon myself, but I am looking at the other—I am looking at you and exulting in where our differences can take us.

Scott Venters is a Doctoral Student in Theatre History, Theory, and Criticism in the School of Drama, University of Washington.


CTR 162

CTR 162 / Spring 2015

Performing Products: When Acting Up Is Selling Out

Edited by T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko, Didier Morelli and Isabel Stowell-Kaplan

How can we, as artists, scholars, and critics, determine where art might and might not intervene into matters that exceed its immediate aesthetic parameters? Why is there such a pervasive fear within the art community that art might presume too much, getting in the way of “real action” and “real change”? Moreover, does art’s role, witting or not, within commodity culture render any political motivation it might carry with it a commodity as well? What do we do when acting up is already selling out? These tensions and confusions, these preoccupations and paranoias are precisely what we address in Performing Products: When Acting Up Is Selling Out. Featuring interviews, photo-essays, reflections on performances past, articles on the current state of performance as a set of deftly imbricated practices and economics, as well as one letter-cum-manifesto, we have deliberately blurred the lines between art, performance, and criticism in this issue: Percival P. Puppet discusses his copyright dispute with Marina Abramović; Istvan Kantor writes to Jeff Koons; Nicole Lizée talks of her love for merch in a world of avant-garde composition; Lawrence Switzky considers the redemptive possibility of exhaustion in marathon theatre; and many more artists and scholars reflect upon their own experience of performance in the current economy.

Click here to read the full table of contents.

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Ed. Note: Lewis Jaffe runs the website, which features images from his and others’ collections of bookplates used by important figures in the theatre profession as well as in cinema and television.


Bookplates:  why I collect them

I am retired now and devote a good deal of time in pursuit of and learning about new bookplates for mycollection. A client once asked me why people collect? It wasn’t meant to be a trick question but at the time I was at a loss to explain.

Upon reflection the answer which suits me best is that collecting is therapeutic. Sometimes I feel like an archeologist digging up old artifacts or a detective trying to locate a person. Interestingly enough several entertainers were also notable rare  book collectors. Among them were James Cagney, Jean Hersholt, and George Jessel.

David Garrick

Here are some time-tested ways to obtain bookplates

eBay: When I started this adventure about 45 years ago there was no Ebay, so I built a collection without it. Today Ebay is certainly an excellent way to find bookplates from around the world. It takes time and discipline because there is so much clutter and misrepresentation, but it is still worth the effort.

Bookplate Societies: When I first got interested in bookplates I joined both The American ( and English ( bookplate societies. That gave me an opportunity to meet with and obtain bookplates from other collectors. It still makes good sense to join these organization and exchange bookplates with other collectors.

Antiquarian and used booksellers will go out of their way to help you if you make your interest known to them. It gets harder each year as the number of open shops decreases, and the number of pre-1940’s books on the shelves are decreasing. Nevertheless, it is often productive. Start looking in either the poetry or drama sections as owners of such books seem to have used bookplates more frequently and there is often less turnover of inventory. Ask the bookseller if he keeps a box of detached boards. I have found some excellent 18th century plates in such boxes.

John Gielgud

Michael Redgrave

Bookbinders: In most large communities there is at least one hand bookbinder. Check the Yellow Pages, Google, or ask a book dealer. More often than not they, being pack rats, hold onto old bookplates, and in some instances are more than willing to sell you a cigar box full.

Book and Paper Shows: I have always enjoyed going to shows. After a while, dealers will save things for you. It pays to stop at every booth and ask.

Noel Coward

Angel of Death letters: I am almost (not quite) embarrassed to admit to the fact that I used to look up the ages of bookplate collectors and wrote to all those over eighty to inquire if they knew of any collections for sale. The point is that it was very productive and I’ve purchased several major collections that way.

For the record, I am 77, so do not bother me until 2018!

Letters to Famous People: I’ve occasionally gotten some remarkable bookplates by writing to celebrities, but I have not had much luck in recent years. Most celebrity mail is filtered by clerks and more often than not you get a signed photo or an auto penned label.

Wylly Folk St. John

Wylly Folk St. John

For those of you wishing to obtain additional information about this topic, Lew can be reached at



CTR 161_winter 2015(3X3)

Performance and Human Rights in the Americas

Also available at CTR online

Motivated by recent artistic and scholarly efforts to query Canada’s place in the hemisphere, this issue features activists, artists, and researchers working at the intersection of performance and human rights both within and beyond Canadian borders. The performance actions examined in this issue travel across the geography and the history of the Americas in an effort to resist, redress, and protest human rights abuses. In the wake of the official opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, this issue raises timely questions about how performance can serve as a potent site of inquiry that interrogates the very terms and conditions of human rights discourse, particularly in the curation of Canada as a human rights leader. While each voice in this collection speaks to a distinct issue that is harrowing in scope (femicide, genocide, institutional violence, treaty rights, food insecurity, corporate violence), all unite in their call for continental coalitions and solidarity to expand inter-American dialogue northwards and to assess Canada’s role in the complex, ongoing, and unfinished history of human rights.  CTR 161 / Winter 2015

Click here to read the full table of contents.

The Canadian Theatre Review features thought-provoking plays and articles on currentissues and trends in Canadian theatre. CTRprovides the Canadian theatre community with in-depth feature articles, manifestos, slideshows, videos, design portfolios, photo essays, and other documents that reflect the challenging forms that theatre takes in the contemporary Canadian arts scene.


Complied by Theresa May, with Lisa Woynarski, Karen O’Brien, Arden Thomas, Downing Cless and members of ASTR performance and/in ecology working group. January 27th, 2015

Note: This list is by no means comprehensive, and suggestions for additions and/or corrections are welcome. The many essays that are part of an anthology or special journal issue on ecological theatre are not included in the list of stand-alone articles. See the table of contents of those volumes and journals for additional and important sources.

Monographs and Collaborative Editions:

Bottoms, Stephen. Small Acts of Repair: Performance, Ecology and Goat Island. London: Routledge, 2007.

Boehrer, Bruce Thomas. Environmental Degradation in Jacobean Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Chauhuri, Una and Shonni Enelow. Research Theatre, Climate Change, and the Ecocide Project. New York: Palgrave, 2014.

Chaudhuri, Una. Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995.

Chaudhuri, Una and Holly Hughes. Animal Acts: Performing Species Today. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014.

Cless, Downing. Ecology and Environment in European Drama. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Egan, Gabriel. Green Shakespeare: From Ecopolitics to Ecocriticism. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Estok, Simon. Ecocriticism and Shakespeare: Reading Ecophobia. New York: Palgrave, 2011.

French, William W. Maryat Lee’s EcoTheater: A Theater for the Twenty-first Century. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 1998.

Fried, Larry and Theresa J. May. Greening Up Our Houses: A Guide to a More Ecologically Sound Theatre. New York: Drama Books, 1994.

Heinlein, Kurt Gerard. Green Theatre- Promoting Ecological Preservation and Advancing the Sustainability of Humanity and Nature. Saarbrüken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller, 2007.

Jones, Ellen. A Practical Guide to Greener Theatre. Waltham, Massachusetts: Focal Press, 2013.

Kershaw, Baz. Theatre Ecology: Environments and Performance Events. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, (2009).

Marranca, Bonnie. Ecologies of Theater: Essays at the Century Turning. New York: PAJ Books, 1996.

May, Theresa. Salmon Is Everything: Community-based Theatre in the Klamath Watershed. Corvallis: Oregon State U Press, 2014.

Osnes, Beth. Theatre for Women’s Participation in Sustainable Development, Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Sullivan, Garrett. The Drama of Landscape, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Witham, Barry. A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow. New York: Palgrave, 2013.

Edited Volumes

Arons, Wendy, and Theresa J. May, eds.  Readings in Performance & Ecology. New York: Palgrave, 2012.

Besel, Richard D. and Jnan A. Blau, eds. Performance on Behalf of the Environment. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2014.

Chaudhuri, Una and Elinor Fuchs, eds.  Land/Scape/Theater, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

Cool, Guy and Pascal Gielen, eds. The Ethics of Art: Ecological Turns in the Performing Arts. Amsterdam: Valiz/Antennae, 2014.

Dawes, Birgit and Marc Maufort, eds. Enacting Nature: Ecocritical Perspectives on Indigenous Performance. Peter Lang, 2014.

Giannachi, Gabriella and Stewart Nigel, eds. Performing Nature:  Explorations in Ecology and the Arts. Berne: Peter Lang, 2005.

Margolies, Eleanor and Wallace Heim. Landing Stages. London: The Ashden Directory, 2014.

Szerszynski, Bronislaw, Wallace Heim and Claire Waterton, eds. Nature Performed: Environment, Culture and Performance. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

Journal issues Dedicated to Ecocriticism in Theatre and Performance Studies:

Note: the articles in these journals are not part of stand-alone article list below.

Canadian Theatre Review 144 (Fall 2010). Special Issue: “Theatre in an Age of Eco Crisis.” Guest editors Nelson Gray and Shelia Rabillard.

Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 20.2 (Spring 2006). Special Section: Ecocriticism. John Gronbeck Tedesco, ed.

Performance Research: A Journal of Performing Arts 17.4 (2012). “On Ecology.”

Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance (Research in Drama Education) 17.2 (2012). On Environmentalism. Guest editors Sally Mackey and Dee Heddon.

TDR 51.1 (T193) (Spring 2007) Special issue on animals in/and performance. Guest editor Una Chaudhuri.

Theater 25:1 (Summer 1994). Erika Monk, ed. Guest editor Una Chaudhuri.

Theatre Topics 17.2 (Fall 2007) Special issue on Ecotheatre. Jonathan Chambers, ed. Guest editor Wendy Arons.

Stand-Alone Articles & Chapters:

Arons, Wendy. ”Beyond the Nature/Culture Divide.” Theatre Historiography: Critical Interventions. Henry Bial and Scott Magelssen, eds.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010. 148-161.

Arons, Wendy. “Queer Ecology/Contemporary Plays.” Theatre Journal 64.4 (December 2012): 565-582.

Arons, Wendy and Theresa J. May. “Ecodramaturgy in/of Contemporary Women Playwrights.” Contemporary Women Playwrights: into the Twenty-first Century. Ed. Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris. New York: Palgrave, 2014: 181-198.

Chaudhuri, Una. “Animal Rites: Performing beyond the Human.” Critical Theory and Performance. Ed. Janelle G. Reinelt and Joseph R. Roach. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. 506-520.

Chaudhuri, Una. “Animal Acts for Changing Times.” American Theater (October 2004): 36.

Chaudhuri, Una. “Zoo Stories: ‘Boundary-Work’ in Theatre History.” Redefining Theatre History. Ed. W.B. Worthen and Peter Holland. New York: Palgrave, 2004.

Chaudhuri, Una. “Animal Geographies: Zooësis and the Space of Modern Drama.” Modern Drama 46.4 (Winter 2003): 646-662.

Chaudhuri, Una.  “AWK!” Extremity, Animality and the Aesthetic of Awkwardness.” The Undiscovered Country: The Later Plays of Tennessee Williams. Ed. Philip Kolin. New York: Peter Lang, 2002. 54-67.

Chaudhuri, Una.  “Sniff Art.” Review of “On the Scent.” TDR 48.2 (T182) (Summer 2004): 76-79.

Cless, Downing.  “Ecology vs. Economy in Robert Schenkkan’s The Kentucky Cycle.The Journal of American Drama and Theatre 8:2 (Spring, 1996): 59-72.

Cless, Downing.“Eco-Theatre, USA: The Grassroots Is Greener.” TDR 40:2 (Summer 1996): 79-102.

Gray, Nelson. “The Murmuring-In-Between: Eco-centric Politics of The Girl Who Swam Forever.Theatre Research in Canada 31:2 (2010): 193-207.

Fancy, David. “Geoperformativity Immanence, Performance and the Earth.” Performance Research 16: 4 (2011): 62-72.

Harpin, Anna. “Land of Hope and Glory: Jez Butterworth’s Tragic Landscape.” Studies in Theatre and Performance 31.1 (2011): 61-73.

Harrison, Jan. “Singing in Animal Tongues.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 33.97 (January 2011): 28.

Lynn Jacobson. “Confessions of an Eco Reporter: Green Theater.” American Theatre 8.11 (Feb 1992): 16-25, 55.

Kershaw, Baz. “Ecoactivist Performance: The Environment As Partner in Protest?” TDR 46:1 (T173) (2002): 118-130.

Mackey, Sally. “Performance, Place and Allotments: Feast or Famine?” Contemporary Theatre Review 17:2 (2007): 181-191.

May, Theresa J. “‘Consequences Unforeseen . . .’ in Raisin in the Sun and Caroline, or Change.Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 20.2 (Spring 2006): 127.

May, Theresa J. “Greening the Theatre: Taking Ecocriticism from Page to Stage.” Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory 7.1 (Fall 2005): 84-103.

May, Theresa J. “The Ecology of Willy Loman.” New England Theatre Journal 15 (2004): 63-76.

May, Theresa J. ““Bahktin on Site: Chronotopes in Theatre in the Wild’s Dragon Island.” On-Stage Studies 22 (1999):19-38.

May, Theresa J. “Frontiers: Environmental History, Ecocriticism and The Kentucky Cycle.Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 14:1 (Spring 1999): 159-178.

May, Theresa J. “Taking the Cage Out of the Gaze: Perception, Wilderness and the New Zoo.” Theatre Insight 10:2 (1999).

Parameswaran, Ameet. “Zooësis and ‘Becoming with’ in India: The ‘Figure’ of Elephant in Sahyande Makan: The Elephant Project.” Theatre Research International 39:1 (March 2014): 5-19.

Ryan, Courtney. “Playing with Plants.” Theatre Journal 65.3 (October 2013): 335-353.

Sarco-Thomas, M. “Improvising in Ruyang: Community Art as Ecological Practice,” Journal of Arts and Communities 1.1 (2009): 45–68

O’Brien, Karen. “A Symbiotic Relationship: The Works of Martin McDonagh and Ecocriticism.” The Theatre and Films of Martin McDonagh. Ed. Patrick Lonergan. London: Methuen, 2012. 179-192.

O’Brien, Karen. “Collaborative Ecology in Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan.” Out of the Earth: Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts. Ed. Christine L. Cusick. Cork: Cork University Press, 2010. 189-204, 242-244.

Standing, Sarah.  “From the Redwood Forest.” American Theater 2.65 (February 2005): 65.

Sweeting, Adam and Thomas C. Crochunis. “Performing the Wild: Rethinking Wilderness and Theater Spaces.” Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism. Ed. Karla Armbruster and Kathleen R. Wallace. 325-340.

Blogs and Websites

Jeremy Pickard, “On Eco-theatre,” TCG Blog:

Slagle, Dillon. “The Aesthetic Evolution of Eco Theater,” HowlRound Blog:

Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts:

Earth Matters on Stage Ecodrama Festival:

Green Theatre Choices Toolkit: Mo’ello Theatre, San Diego, CA. 2009.

The Ashden Directory: &

Ashdenizen blog:

Site, Performance, and Environmental Change:

Multi-Story Water:


Facebook pages:

Artists and Climate Change (managed by Chantal Bilodeau)

Theatre Makers Against Climate Change (managed by Alison Carey)

(The blogs and sites above also have Facebook pages)


CTR_160_Fall 2014 (3X3)

CTR 160, Fall 2014

Actor Training in a Changing Landscape

Also available at CTR online

Featuring the voices of acting trainers, actors, directors, graduates, policy makers and theorists from across the country, this issue explores key challenges facing acting training in English-speaking Canada. It also begins to imagine ways through and beyond them. The concept of “diversities” is used as a central organizing principle to unpack monolithic realities blocking the development of acting training, including a current and troubling absence of diversity in institutional approaches to aesthetics, to questions of gender and sexuality, and to the cultural realities of the student population. From the classroom, to the rehearsal, to the stage, this collection of interviews, lively conversations, essays and manifestos is sure to shift and intensify the national discussion about acting training.

Click here to view the full table of contents.

The Canadian Theatre Review features thought-provoking plays and articles on current issues and trends in Canadian theatre. CTRprovides the Canadian theatre community with in-depth feature articles, manifestos, slideshows, videos, design portfolios, photo essays, and other documents that reflect the challenging forms that theatre takes in the contemporary Canadian arts scene.

You can also access CTR on the various online platforms below.

CTR Online (

Project MUSE (

CTR on YouTube (

Website (

Facebook (

For more information about the Canadian Theatre Review or for submissions information, please contact:

Canadian Theatre Review
University of Toronto Press, Journals Division
5201 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON M3H 5T8, Canada
Tel: (416) 667-7810 Fax: (416) 667-7881
Fax Toll Free in North America 1-800-221-9985


Participants at the Theatre History and Theatre as a Liberal Art Focus Group Preconference “Dreaming of Theatre History: Pedagogy in the Trenches” met at the ATHE conference in Scottsdale in July 2014 to address the challenges faced in teaching theatre history in higher education through papers and roundtable discussions. Preconference Co-Organizers James Brandon and Jeanne Wilcoxon report.

Representing large research universities, two-year community colleges and small liberal arts institutions, participants clearly faced different challenges based on institutional support and departmental mission (e.g., a small department that only has the resources to offer one hybrid course of theatre history, literature and theory confronts different curricular questions than a department that can offer a dedicated theatre history sequence of four courses) but shared concerns about the state of theatre history and pedagogy in higher education.  While several of these shared concerns are familiar from past discussions on this subject (e.g., is a topical or chronological approach more effective in teaching theatre history?), the challenge of teaching underprepared and unengaged students, working with technology in the classroom and surviving in the current neoliberal landscape of higher education, are recent and vital concerns that animated discussion throughout the preconference.

Advocating “embodied practices” and project-based work in the classroom as being both a solution to the problem of student disengagement and as particularly appropriate to the discipline of theatre, panelists presented assignments designed to energize the classroom as a space of creative inquiry.  Their assignments, which taught students to think critically about the process of making history and actively analyze historical event and text through creative performances and productions (v. more traditional reading and research assignments), provoked discussion on how far we should focus on sparking student engagement.  Are we, in our efforts to engage, diminishing the rich and difficult labor of learning, a process that does and should challenge comfort levels?  Given that our participants ranged from tenured professors to adjuncts and graduate teaching assistants, a very real concern voiced was the impact of the student course evaluation on the career of the instructor:  a poor evaluation from a disgruntled “consumer” could potentially lead to the instructor’s dismissal. In the current corporate climate of higher education, how can we resist the conceptualization of the student as consumer who is satisfied only when sufficiently amused (the professor as entertainer)?  Yet, as was a theme throughout the larger ATHE conference, how can we still reach out to engage students in a process of learning v. simply reiterate classroom practices that, by failing to engage students, fail to teach?

Several papers asked us to rethink how we teach theatre history.  Challenging both topical and chronological approaches, Rick Jones from Stephen F. Austin State University proposed “teaching theatre history backwards,” leading students to discover the connections to the past that animate the present through a genealogical organization of the theatre history course.  Two papers addressed how we can use the web as a communal learning space for students (e.g., group dramaturgical projects on the web as a way to share student work) and as an online archival resource for our courses.  At the same time, there was discussion on the potential costs of using that technology: increased institutional spending to hire IT staff and purchase up-to-date technology, as well as the time required inside and outside the classroom for students and faculty members to learn constantly evolving technology.

At the heart of this preconference was the question of what must be, and can only be, taught to our students through the teaching of theatre history. Why is learning theatre history necessary for the theatre major and for the general education of the non-major? While discussion often centered on the designated theatre history course, the process of historicization, which is political in its insistent revelation of change and the possibility of change, can be and, for several participants, is taught in a wide range of theatre or performance courses.  However, some participants, still facing the challenge of convincing colleagues that the discipline of theatre can be an integrated study of both practice and theory, are fighting to even keep a course on theatre history in the curriculum for the theatre major. James Brandon (Hillsdale College) and Mark E. Lococo (Loyola University) offered strategies and rationales for placing theatre history at the core of the theatre major in their institutions.

Perhaps because the theatre history course itself is in danger of elimination, or perhaps because the topical approach to teaching theatre history has allowed for a cracking of the previously pervasive Eurocentric canon, the provincialism that Marvin Carlson and Steve Tillis have criticized in the American teaching of theatre history, and the cultural elitism in theatre studies cited by, among others, David Savran and Stacy Wolf, did not figure largely in the discussions[1]. While textbooks and anthologies, usual suspects of discussion, dropped out of the conversation, there was debate about the centrality of plays to the theatre history course.  Could a course be taught without plays, focusing instead on primary documents that would teach students the history through examining the material practice of making theatre? This returned us to the question of institutional support and resources.  For several participants, due to budgetary cuts, the theatre history course is also the dramatic literature course (or, in one case, the film and media studies course).   Interestingly, Marvin Carlson’s plea two decades ago to give up the battle for disciplinary “turf” is being answered today through the forced revamping of curriculum and the reorganization of fine arts departments into interdisciplinary units.[2] However, participants echoed Carlson’s attendant warning in that same essay: if we aren’t able to “clearly say what distinguishes theatre history” from other histories, we are in danger of having administrators make that definition and, potentially, erase that practice from the ever-more-arid landscape of higher education.


James Brandon (Hillsdale College) and Jeanne Willcoxon (St. Olaf College)

Note: a more extensive version of this report can be found at the Theatre History Focus Group blog on the ATHE website.

[1] See:  Tillis, Steve (March 2007).  “Remapping Theatre History.”  Theatre Topics 17 (1): 1-19; Tillis, Steve (November 2012).  “The Case Against World Theatre History.”  New Theatre Quarterly 28 (4): 379-391; Carlson, Marvin (November 2004).  “Become Less Provincial.”  Theatre Survey 45 (2): 177-180; Savran, David (November 2004).  “Towards a Historiography of the Popular.” Theatre Survey 45 (2): 211-217; Wolf, Stacy (March 2007).  “In Defense of Pleasure: Musical Theatre History in the Liberal Arts [A Manifesto].” Theatre Topics 17 (1): 51-60.

[2] Carlson, Marvin (Summer 1995).  “Theatre History, Methodology and Distinctive Features.”  Theatre Research International 20 (2): 90-96.