Articulations of Division and Unity: Re-evaluating Practices of Artistic Research / Ensemble et séparés : vers une réévaluation des pratiques de la recherche artistique

Organizers / Comité d’organisation : Natalia Esling (UBC) & Bruce Barton (University of Calgary)

 Participants / Participant·e·s : Andy Houston, Bakare Babatunde Allen, Caitlin Main, Edwin Wong, Gilberto Conti Padao, Gouri Nilakantan, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Laine Zisman Newman, P. Megan Andrews, Shira Schwartz & Tony Nardi

Description of Engagement:

In the first phase of our online seminar, each participant submitted a dossier about their respective research. In the next phase, three subgroups within the larger group were established: GROUP A:  Caitlin / Gouri / Babatunde / Andy; GROUP B:  Shira / Laine / Jennifer / Megan; GROUP C Tony / Gilberto / Edwin. Within each subgroup, using a daisy-chain model, each participant offered a response to a colleague’s dossier and received a response to theirs from a different colleague. In terms of the responses, the invitation was for participants to engage with generosity and consideration, and to respond in embodied or creative ways (multimedia being an option) as well as in writing. The invitation extended to identifying what stands out in the work, what moves them, what questions it raises, and any questions they may have. The idea was to foster engagement beyond what might be familiar subject matter or practices, and to inspire more thematic discussions to follow.

A Final Invitation (last phase):

Working together, recognizing realities and materialities of division in time and space, we invite each subgroup to connect, either via phone, Zoom, Skype, email, or another platform of your choosing. As a prompt for your discussion, we invite the following questions:

1) How does your project engage boundaries and division (partition)?

2) What questions or practices do you share in your work? Where are common intersections?

Through your discussion, we hope you will generate ideas that might be explored through practical engagement (if we were altogether).

Next, we invite you to imagine actually being in a room together under different conditions:

1) Pre-COVID-19: How would you explore or experiment with the questions, ideas, themes, or concerns you discussed?

2) During pandemic: How does this shift your approach? What would you do? What does it look like?

In this exercise, we encourage you to think creatively about how you would bring your ideas and questions to the larger group. For instance, if we were to meet in person, how would you conduct a short workshop or experiment to demonstrate or test the intersections (or divergences) in your work? How would the new circumstances (distance protocols, mask-wearing, etc.) shape this practical engagement and, in turn, how you generate new knowledge?

Description de la démarche :

Lors des étapes initiales de notre séminaire virtuel, nous avons demandé aux participants et participantes de soumettre un dossier portant sur leurs travaux de recherche respectifs. Nous avons ensuite divisé le groupe en trois :

Chaque personne a alors offert une réponse au dossier d’un pair dans son sous-groupe et a vu son travail commenté par quelqu’un d’autre. Les réponses se voulaient généreuses, respectueuses et offertes de façon incarnée, créative (les commentaires multimédias étant bienvenus) ou écrite. On pouvait notamment souligner ce qu’on avait aimé dans le dossier examiné, identifier les points saillants du travail et soulever des questions. L’objectif de ces échanges était de se familiariser avec des pratiques et des sujets divers, et ainsi de préparer le terrain pour les discussions à venir.

Dernière étape de la démarche :

En dernière étape, nous invitons chaque sous-groupe à se réunir virtuellement. Puisqu’une distance géographique et des fuseaux horaires nous séparent, nous proposons de travailler ensemble par téléphone, sur Zoom, Skype, ou sur toute autre plateforme au choix du groupe.

Dans un premier temps, nous vous invitons à explorer les questions suivantes :

1) De quelle manière vos recherches abordent-elles certaines frontières et certaines divisions ?

2) Quelles questions ou quelles pratiques avez-vous en commun ? Quels points de rencontre existe-t-il entre vos travaux ?

Nous espérons que vos échanges déboucheront sur des idées que nous pourrions appliquer si nous étions tous dans la même pièce.

Dans un second temps, nous vous invitons à imaginer être réunis au même endroit, mais dans deux contextes différents :

1) D’abord, imaginez un scénario avant la pandémie de Covid-19. Comment exploreriez-vous les questions, idées, thèmes et problèmes abordés plus haut ?

2) Imaginez ensuite un scénario pendant la pandémie. Quel impact la crise sanitaire a-t-elle sur votre approche ? Que devez-vous faire maintenant ? À quoi ressemble votre nouvelle approche ?

Nous vous encourageons, durant cet exercice, à réfléchir de manière créative à la façon dont vous présenteriez vos idées et vos questions à l’ensemble des participants et participantes au séminaire. Si nous nous réunissions en personne, par exemple, quel genre d’exercices feriez-vous pour démontrer ou tester les ressemblances et les écarts entre vos travaux ? Comment les circonstances actuelles (mesures de distanciation physique et port du masque, par exemple) modifieraient-elles vos pratiques et votre façon de produire de nouvelles connaissances ?

Group A Discussion

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Group B – Shifting Togetherness

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Group C Discussion

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Andrew Houston is an artist-researcher in intermedia and site-specific performance, and an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Theatre and Performance program at the University of Waterloo. For more information see:

Dr. Bakare Babatunde Allen is from Nigeria. He earned a B.A (Hons) in Dramatic Arts at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 2003. In 2005, Dr. Bakare obtained certificate in British and Irish Literature at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He completed Masters of Philosophy in Ibsen Studies at the University of Oslo, Norway in 2008. He bagged PhD in Drama and Theatre Studies at Stellenbosch University, South-Africa in 2018. Dr, Bakare has published both in local and international journals of reputable standing. He has taught theatre and drama for seven years at Nasarawa University and Bowen University, Nigeria.

Caitlin Main is an emerging theatre artist, writer, and scholar from Vancouver BC, the unceded Coast Salish territories. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Calgary with interests in devised theatre practice, critical trauma theory, and acts of repetition. Passionate about interdisciplinarity, Caitlin completed a Bachelor of Arts & Science at Quest University Canada.

Edwin Wong is an award-winning classicist with a master’s degree from Brown University, where he concentrated in ancient theatre. He works as a project manager for PML Professional Mechanical overseeing new schools, hospitals, and condos. His book The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy was published by Friesen Press in 2019 and he founded the Risk Theatre Modern Tragedy Playwright competition with Langham Court Theatre in 2018. He lives in Victoria, BC.

Gilberto Conti Padao comes from a culture of street carnaval from Rio de Janeiro and from his childhood he performed with masks and the fantastic world of the rite and carnaval. After that he develop his work with puppets, giant puppets and masks for 20 years with self-created company called IOIO Puppet Theater. Based in Prague, Czech Republic, studied his master’s degree at DAMU, Prague Theater Academy in the department of puppet and alternative theater. Worked with names as Peter Schumann of Bread and puppets in New York and Petr Matasek, legendary stage designer and puppeteer of Czech Republic in DAMU. From the year 2019, he is making his PhD in Charles University in department of Theatre Studies, teaching classes for Erasmus students of masks and puppets; participated of IFTR congress in Shanghai at the Year 2019 and other congress; teaches actors in masks making and performances of some universities like Charles university, JAMU, Brno University. He presented puppet theater and masks projects at festivals in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Brazil and others. To this day play the theater and teaches acting classes with puppets and masks in several European countries, Brazil, Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Madeira Island, Israel, Macau, etc.

Gouri Nilakantan Mehta holds a double masters degree in Archeology (Deccan College) and theatre (Miami University). Currently she is the artistic director of Platform for Action in Creative Theatre and also is in her last stages of Phd from Jawahar lal Nehru University (New Delhi, India). She has authored over 18 international journal articles in theatre, folklore, culture and read at several international conferences.

Jennifer Roberts-Smith (Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Theatre Performance, University of Waterloo) is an award-winning artist-researcher, whose transdisciplinary work in performance, digital media, design, education, and social justice has appeared in theatres, exhibitions, and scholarly publications internationally. She is currently director of the qcollaborative (the intersectional feminist design research lab housed in the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute;, and of the SSHRC-funded Theatre for Relationality and Design for Peace projects. Since 2017, JRS has served as creative director and virtual reality cluster lead for the Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation project. Her past work includes the Simulated Environment for Theatre software system, and the co-edited collection Shakespeare’s Language in Digital Media (Routledge 2018). Prototyping Across the Disciplines: Designing Better Futures, co-edited with Stan Ruecker and Milena Radzikowska, is forthcoming with Intellect in 2020.

Dr. Laine Zisman Newman is a postdoctoral research fellow at Brock University. Her postdoctoral research considers the geographies of those who oppose sexual and gendered rights and equalities. She is also currently researching Yiddish writing-as-resistance, as it relates to intergenerational trauma and narratives of resilience. Zisman Newman was the founder of Toronto’s Queer Theory Working Group, and the co-founder of Equity in Theatre, an organization that addressed gender inequities in professional Canadian theatre. Zisman Newman is editor of the upcoming volume, Women and Popular Culture in Canada and co-editor of the second edition of Queerly Canadian (forthcoming 2020). She is also producing the upcoming national queer theatre conference, Q2Q-2: Refusing the Queer Monolith at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (November 2020).

P. Megan Andrews, PhD, (she/her) is a settler dance artist/scholar, movement educator and writer/editor. Her artistic research queries the aesthetics of ethics through practices of movement, voice, perception and relationality. She is currently Associate Artist, Vancouver’s Scotiabank Dance Centre and Visiting Scholar, Institute for Performance Studies at Simon Fraser University.

Shira Schwartz is a sessional instructor at the University of Waterloo in the department of Drama and Speech Communication. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation at York University in the area of performing Jewishness and sexuality, entitled, “Between Letter and Spirit: the Ontology of Jewish Performance.”

Tony Nardi is a PhD Candidate, University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. His dissertation “Performing (in) the Multicultural Melting Pot” investigates the impact of diverse cultures on actor training and performances in Canadian theatre, film and television. He is multi-award winner for his work in theatre, film, and television.

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