Prizes


Prix de la chercheure émergente (SQET)

Nous sommes très heureux d’annoncer que la Société québécoise d’études théâtrales décerne le prix de la chercheure émergente qui récompense la meilleure thèse de doctorat ayant été soutenue au cours des deux années précédant (et incluant) l’année 2020 à Maude Blanchette-Lafrance!

Les membres du jury tiennent à souligner l’originalité de sa thèse portant sur la POP culture dans le théâtre de création nord-américain contemporain. En abordant le sujet du High Art et du Low Art, la thèse traite d’un sujet d’actualité en s’inscrivant dans un contexte d’ouverture aux différentes pratiques artistiques.

Le projet doctoral se démarque en mettant de l’avant une pensée théorique approfondie, en ayant donné lieu à différentes communications et publications au Québec, en Europe et aux États-Unis, en plus d’être doublée par une pratique artistique.

La recherche postdoctorale que madame Blanchette-Lafrance réalisera à l’Université Concordia dans le cadre du groupe de recherche dirigé par la professeure Shauna Janssen à titre de chercheure et de performeuse contribuera d’autant plus à actualiser la recherche doctorale.

Au nom de la Société québécoise d’études théâtrales, nous la félicitons sincèrement!


TRIBUTE TO THE HONORARY MEMBER, 2020 (SQET)

The SQET seeks to highlight the significant contribution of Marie-Hélène Falcon to the Québec arts scene, its evolution and its international outreach.

TRIBUTE BY MARTIN FAUCHER

Martin Faucher is Co-Executive and Artistic Director of the Festival Transamériques

Marie-Hélène Falcon’s love for contemporary creation in theatre and dance is unconditional.

Marie-Hélène Falcon is a free, determined and visionary woman, but first and foremost free. She has invented from scratch the FTA, a must-see event on the contemporary scene of Montreal, Quebec, Canada and the entire world.

First it was the Theatre Festival of the Americas.

Since 1985, this biennial event has called upon the most innovative artists from the three Americas and intermingled in its vibrant editions the voices of Gilles Maheu, Robert Lepage, Denis Marleau and Yves Sioui-Durand to those of Elizabeth Lecompte from the Wooster Group, Meredith Monk, Rachel Rosenthal, Bia Lessa, Johane Akalaitis, Ariane Mnouchkine, Bob Wilson, Frank Castorf, Christoph Marthaler, and so many, many, many more.

Suddenly, on Marie-Hélène’s impulse, the Montreal scenes exploded and, for the time of each edition, became a huge stage with constantly expanding boundaries.

In 2007, in a gesture of rare audacity and courage, Marie-Hélène initiated a thorough review of the FTA. Despite its 20 years of success, she didn’t hesitate to transform it into the Festival TransAmériques, an equally influential and prestigious event that now happens annually and fully integrates dance as part of its mission.

I worked alongside Marie-Hélène Falcon as an artistic advisor for eight years.

I know all the care, enthusiasm, doubts and strategies, but above all the love for art and the artists that she devoted to prepare each edition.

If it weren’t for Marie-Hélène Falcon’s immense contribution, Quebec’s performing arts wouldn’t hold the place they do today on the stages of the world.

To this day Marie-Hélène is still very present, watching what happens on our stages.

And when Marie-Hélène is watching, she is watching. 

We owe a great deal to this woman of outstanding stature.

I am privileged to have been around her.

To still be around her.

Marie-Hélène, congratulations for this honour.

You deserve it.

Long life to you.

You still have so much to offer to us.

TRIBUTE BY JESSIE MILL

Jessie Mill is an artistic advisor, dramaturge and publisher. She has been working at the Festival TransAmériques since 2014.

Gratitude shore

Behind me is the Restigouche River – or listiguj, in the Mi’kmaw language – a two hundred-kilometre river that serves as a natural border between Quebec and New Brunswick. Less than forty kilometres from here, this river bears the same name, except that it’s salty and washed by tides. When I was younger, we would call it the sea, but on the maps it is always referred to as a river, until it becomes a bay, a little further down.

Don’t rely on maps. It’s always better to go and see for yourself, to taste this salty water that doesn’t lie.

In order to imagine an international festival like the FTA, make it grow and mature for 30 years, Marie-Hélène Falcon first relied on field work. We often talk about her international trips, but her appetite for discovering local territories precedes her exploration of other continents.

Travelling is natural to her. It’s a movement she has embraced all her life, and embraces still. Trips, however small, allow for fresh perspectives on the world. I would say that a poetics of travel presides over her way of living the everyday life, with modesty, without hoarding, keeping only what is necessary for the road. Always ready to go.

She told me the other day that she would have liked to make a festival by the river.

Going off the highway, through the villages, stopping, lingering for a bit. A contemplative methodology that seems difficult to cultivate today. 

Her curiosity for what lies abroad should be understood in a wider sense – abroad in the geographical as well as the aesthetic and human senses. Abroadness as strangeness. Over time, Marie-Hélène has sought to extend the landscape in all dimensions, to engage in a quest for depth, both outwards and inwards. As Edouard Glissant wrote, “if you don’t love the country you live in, no one will love it for you.” Marie-Hélène deeply loves Quebec, the river, the people here, their stories and their contradictions.

*

A few years ago, we made a book on the FTA that gave me the opportunity to ask her about beginnings. The first trips, the first dreams of a festival, the first quests. The same story told twice revealed other facets of her curiosity for world cultures, independently of her immoderate love for the arts. 

“Humans, faces, construction works, a blueprint, a thought in action. My sensibility was through language,” she told me at the time, “through images, objects, kitchens. I had a fascination for Indigenous peoples and archaeology.”

When I go through 35 years of archives of the Festival, examining the names of artists invited year after year, their countries and regions, I see the great diversity of forms and experiences that have been conveyed, continually broadening the meaning of the word “theatre”. This material teaches me about the immense potential of our art, reminds me of the arbitrary nature of categories and borders, and humbles me in the face of the challenges of the present. I notice the artistic and formal resurgences, the return of the same in a world that has changed.

Through this corpus of past editions emerges a history of the performing arts that no textbook or theatre course can tell. A history that does not exclude the big names, the leading artists, but that puts on the same level younger, unknown artists, craftsmen in the shadows, Indigenous artists, numerous in the first editions of the festival, precarious artists threatened by censorship in their countries, some of them perhaps forgotten, even though their voices seemed essential at the time. Women, lots of women. Traditional theatre or theatre of genre, forcing us to unbind the notion of “contemporary”, and welcomed with the same legitimacy as fashionable aesthetics.

*

In 2014, at the last edition of the FTA signed by Marie-Hélène, I had just joined the team. I was going to be the new artistic advisor, and didn’t have a specific role yet. I was simply observing. I was given the task to compile, and sometimes translate, the testimonials that artists, colleagues and friends of Marie-Hélène had sent for the ceremony to be held in her honour on May 31 of that year. A rather indiscreet mission, as I felt like I was opening her mail. Letters filled with gratitude and friendship were addressed to her from Berlin, Ghent, Vincennes, Cesena, Vienna, Avignon and elsewhere. I assessed the scope and reach of her vision, of her actions – and the authenticity of the relationships she established over the years. 

Her friend Frie Leysen, founder of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, had sent her a few words in the midst of the Vienna Festival which she curated. The note, so informal, could have been written on the corner of a table by a friend who left in a hurry.

Robert Lepage spoke of Marie-Hélène in these terms: “The midwife of Quebec creation for the stage”.

Romeo Castellucci addressed his “sister from Canada”. “Marie-Hélène has done something particularly valuable for our contemporary era,” he wrote. “She has given the audience an opportunity to think; to think about seeing. She made them aware of the deep meaning of being an audience today. That seeing involves choices. That seeing is a political and tragic act.”

It was touching and intimidating.

I remember avoiding personal pronouns when we first met, long before that year. Was it the French “vous”– to show all my admiration and reverence? Or “tu”, to convey a sense of familiarity with my favourite festival? As for many colleagues and friends, the FTA was one of my schools. No lessons, just the shock of the questions that haunt us.

*

Marie-Hélène cherishes encounters and conversations, even the most furtive, accidental ones. Those offered by literature are dear to her as well – refuges filled with humanity, so salutary in times of confinement. Before I left Montreal a few weeks ago, I met her for breakfast. She returned a pile of books that I had lent her. A bit of everything, especially novels, most of which she had read. But it was an essay that caught her attention. An Apartment on Uranus, Paul B. Preciado’s chronicle written for the Libération newspaper and published last year by Grasset. Marie-Hélène was impressed by the liveliness of his thought and the imagination fuelling his philosophy, which hints at other possible worlds.

No wonder that Preciado’s agility and revolutionary character touched her, as he suggests to “think in terms of relationships and transformative potential rather than in terms of identity”.  The FTA, in its long history, has sought to shake identities, celebrate metamorphoses, transmutations, ecstasies, without fleeing from discomfort, anger, misery, fear. To resist the darkness, to face the fear, fear of the other.   

*

The future of the performing arts is foggy. We are rethinking our systems and structures, often based on inequities, and revising our work culture in order to avoid assimilating it to the productivity of big capital.

My encounters and conversations with Marie-Hélène are among the things that have value beyond any system.

With her, and through the festival that she left us, I understood : 

That art is neither entertainment nor pedagogy, that it cannot be lost in the big catch-all term that is culture, but rather, that it belongs to an often elusive, even unjustifiable matter, which stands for reality and reaches an otherwise invisible part of the human being.

That it is not a matter of being interested by the arts and by artists, but also taking into consideration contexts, when it’s required: the contexts in which artistic practices flourish, the contexts of the meeting with the artists, of the journey made by the performances and of the invitation extended to the audience.

That there is no such thing as my audience or our audience, but rather a humanity that is as vast as it is complex. And that we need to talk to people, to reach out to them, to be constantly among those watching.

That a theatre and dance festival should be imagined on the road and in the theatres. That you have to watch and see yourself watching. Understand that this very act is political.

That the perfect execution of a score or the flawless structure of a performance should not supersede the vulnerability of the work, both in its form and in its relationship to the audience.

That a festival is first and foremost a pagan and archaic celebration! That we must relearn to celebrate.

In all her sagacity, Marie-Hélène is always “active in research”. Her contribution to Quebec theatre studies takes the shape of a long-lasting festival, at the crossroads of practices and experiences. Based on strong intuitions, she has built and passed on this event, which is also a non-traditional learning space, such as few existing outside of educational institutions. The Société québécoise des études théâtrales is indeed right to welcome this great woman as an honorary member.


PRIX JEAN-CLÉO GODIN REMIS À JEANNE BOVET

« Premières médiatisations de la voix, de la Comédie des Champs-Élysées au Théâtre de l’Athénée » de Jeanne Bovet est un article savant qui explore en profondeur et avec intelligence, l’utilisation à des fins esthétiques et dramaturgiques de la médiatisation de la voix (disque et microphones), principalement dans le théâtre français de la première moitié du 20e siècle. Bovet se penche avec beaucoup d’originalité sur une période de l’histoire du théâtre qui a fait l’objet de peu de travaux, de ce côté-ci de l’Atlantique, au cours des dernières décennies. L’autrice met notamment en relief les effets artistiques (présence et surprésence) auxquels a donné lieu l’usage des disques et des microphones sur les scènes françaises de cette époque. L’autrice y fait preuve de créativité dans son approche de l’histoire des arts de la scène et montre à quel point la recherche historique peut se transformer en enquête passionnante. Non seulement s’agit-il d’un texte bien structuré et d’une recherche remarquablement documentée, mais cet article est au surplus rédigé dans une langue élégante et accessible. Le prix Jean Cléo Godin est donc attribué cette année à Jeanne Bovet en raison du caractère stimulant de sa réflexion sur un dispositif sonore crucial de la création théâtrale, étude d’autant plus solide et méritoire qu’elle prend appui sur des analyses systématiques et raffinées de la médiatisation de la voix au sein d’un corpus significatif et bien balisé.  

MENTION SPÉCIALE À Marie-Eve Skelling Desmeules

Le comité souhaite également remettre une mention spéciale à l’article « Le travail du corps en tant qu’instrument vocal : l’étude des expériences de formation au sein d’un cours de voix et d’interprétation » de Marie-Eve Skelling Desmeules. Le comité désire ainsi souligner l’excellence de ses recherches qui touchent l’enseignement du théâtre. Ce domaine encore peu fréquenté par les chercheurs canadiens d’expression française mérite d’être soutenu, car la recherche théâtrale actuelle est très diversifiée. Cet article original, qui porte sur l’apprentissage de la voix et de l’interprétation dans la formation de l’acteur, expose, dans une langue claire et précise, ses fondements théoriques et sa méthodologie. Les riches données que la chercheuse a réunies grâce à des entrevues et à des observations en salle de cours lui permettent ensuite de scruter avec perspicacité et sensibilité ce qu’elle appelle « le travail du corps en tant qu’instrument vocal ». Ce faisant, Skelling Desmeules éclaire, de manière détaillée, un processus de formation méconnu et procure ainsi des résultats précieux à ceux et celles qui s’intéressent aux diverses expériences qui émaillent la formation des comédiens. Fait à noter, ses travaux sont d’ailleurs susceptibles de faire l’objet d’applications pratiques.


PLANT PRIZE WINNER

Benjamin Looker, “Staging Diaspora, Dramatizing Activism: Fashioning a Progressive Filipino Canadian Theatre in Toronto, 1974–2001,” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études Canadiennes, 53.2 (Spring 2019).

Looker’s article documents and interprets the history of the Carlos Bulosan Cultural Workshop, an amateur Filipino Canadian theatre and arts organization, from its founding until its renewal as the fully-professional Carlos Bulosan Theatre. Navigating deftly between the global and the local, Looker situates the group’s work within a worldwide diasporic opposition to the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, as a response to issues of equity in work and social life faced by Filipino immigrants to Canada, and within “hidden genealogies of the North American Left amid a 1980s–1990s climate of conservative reaction” (454-5). The jury was particularly impressed by the use of documentary sources to put the CBCW into these wider contexts, while also paying close attention to the wide variety of its theatrical production activities, which ranged across overtly agit-prop mixtures of sketches and vignettes, socially-engaged pieces developed with and performed by domestic workers exploring their lives in Canada, and fully-scripted dramas and musicals in both English and Filipino languages. Looker brings the under-documented work of this significant group into focus, while also acknowledging the CBCW’s complicated relationship to notions of “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” as both the plays it performed and its treatment by funding bodies often revealed how “Canadian multiculturalist discourse occluded from view the racialized hierarchies of privilege and disadvantage that shaped Filipino experiences in Toronto” (453). “Staging Diaspora, Dramatizing Activism” richly merits this year’s Richard Plant award for the breadth and depth of its examination of a particular company and its place in the history of theatre in Canada, and for its potential to point towards future work on theatre and performance of the broader North American Filipino diaspora.

Honourable Mention

Rebecca Burton, “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Canadian Theatre Here and Now,” alt.theatre, 15.2 (October 2019).

Burton’s article eloquently casts a distressing light on the inequitable practices that are endemic to theatre everywhere in Canada and that have been in place, unchanged, for many years. In her choice of Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) and its Women’s Caucus (WC) for a cogent and detailed case study, she reveals the close to insurmountable obstacles encountered by those who have long been concerned about the problem of ongoing inequity and have been working vigorously to effect real change. Making effective use of statistics and graphs, and employing an accessible writing style, we strongly believe this article would complement many university classes, not only because it clearly indicates that plays by women are minoritized, and recognizes that even greater inequities are endured by racialized women, women who identify with disability and queer people, but because it tackles the complex issue of advocacy: why don’t great initiatives always work? What are the barriers and how can these be overcome? This article prompts discussion regarding advocacy, action, visibility, representation, entrenched biases, working with limited resources, and navigating differing perspectives.


Patrick O’Neill Award/ Le Prix Patrick O’Neill

The Patrick O’Neill Award is given each year to the best edited collection published in either English or French on a Canadian theatre and performance topic. The award is given in alternate years to a play anthology and an essay collection.

This year, we had several excellent submissions to consider as a committee, each of which engaging not only various aspects of Canadian theatre and performance but also, and more so, what we mean and what we understand by Canadian within such categorization. The collections we have determined to be the winner and runner-up this year both challenge and broaden notions of how scholarship might act to reimagine national identity as an expansive and inclusive form of action and activism. 

Prize: Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance. Eds. Peter Dickinson, C.E. Gatchalian, Kathleen Oliver, and Dalbir Singh. Playwrights Canada Press, 2018.

Peter Dickinson, C.E. Gatchalian, Kathleen Oliver, and Dalbir Singh’s collection, Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance, from Playwrights Canada Press, asks in its Introduction, “Why is it important not just to continue to tell queer stories on stage, but also to piece together the larger historical narrative of Canadian queer theatrical production and reception through our academic research?” While noted scholarship suggests that it wasn’t until the 1980s and ‘90s that matters of sexuality in North American theatre and performance studies acquired more formal academic attention, Q2Q’s editors look back further to queer playwrights and plays who, already in the 1960s and ‘70s were redefining the modern Canadian canon. They revisit as well venues, like Buddies in Bad Times, Nightwood Theatre, and Native Earth Performing Arts, that, emerging during the same period, prioritized “explorations of sexuality and gender” as well as “developing and staging Two-Spirit work.” Q2Q takes up this scholarly historical aporia not only to reassert the significant role queer theatre and performance has played in the ongoing trajectory of Canadian theatre and performance and its theoretical consideration, but also to reassess how such gaps in one’s own cultural history resonate in new and ongoing tensions in contemporary work.  

The artists and scholars whose work comprises Q2Q do not shy away from such tensions; nor do Dickinson, Gatchalian, Oliver, and Singh in their curation. Rather, individually and collectively, they offer a concerted approach to how the label of “queer” functions both to diversify identity under a categorical umbrella while also running the risk of rendering “queerness” as monolithic and homogenous. Or, as the Introduction reads, “[W]hile it may, on some levels (including but not limited to content), be possible to account for the ways in which the ‘subculture’ of queer theatre-making is distinct from the ‘super-culture’ of so-called straight performance, how do we remain accountable to representing on stage all of the subcultures within queer culture itself?” That Q2Q accentuates questions rather than answers emphasizes the collections’ pedagogical and methodological value, as well as the need for “patience and love” through conversations that ask us to confront not only how history is told, but how we, as readers, scholars, artists, and pedagogues, are telling it ourselves in the work we do.

Congratulations, and thank you, to the editors and contributors involved in this exceptional and valuable compilation.

Runner-up: Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times: Performance Actions in the Americas. Eds. Natalie Alvarez, Claudette Lauzon, and Keren Zaiontz. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times: Performing Actions in the Americas, edited by Natalie Alvarez, Claudette Lauzon, and Keren Zaiontz, begins in the immediate moment: the protests, rallies, and social media-led activism that followed the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Acknowledging the “instability and precarity” of the times, but also that of the position activists, scholars, and artists find themselves in as they redirect their work to increasingly global social and economic movements, this collection, as its editors indicate, “investigat[es] work in the Americas that meets the shifting demands of activism through the creation of art activist tools, sustainable spaces, and adaptable tactics that exceed the space-time of the action itself.” Further, by juxtaposing actions in Canada with those throughout the Americas, Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times makes evident Canadian scholars’, artists’, and activists’ role in a broader hemispheric context. Stunning in its bringing together of scholarly essays, interviews, and artistic provocations, this collection aligns form with content, providing not only an analytic overview of the contemporary and more recently contemporary moment through a theatre and performance studies methodology, but also a “how-to” for “keeping effective interventionist strategies in circulation.” Ultimately, Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times offers a strategy not only for how performance and scholarship reflects and reflects upon the current moment, but also might provide and hold space for an active agency within it.


Ann Saddlemyer Award 2019 (CATR), Given jointly to:

Julie Burrelle, Encounters on Contested Lands: Indigenous Performances of Sovereignty and Nationhood in Québec. Northwestern University Press, 2019.

AND

Helene Vosters, Unbecoming Nationalism: From Commemoration to Redress in Canada. University of Manitoba Press, 2019.

Citation

The committee for the Ann Saddlemyer Award/Le prix Ann Saddlemyer acknowledges that the three of us undertook our work on the traditional territories of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the  W̱SÁNEĆ, Lkwungen, Wyomilth peoples and on Treaty 4 territory, the traditional lands of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Nakoda, Lakota, and the homeland of the Métis/Michif Nation.  We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to work on these diverse lands and are committed to working towards a future of decolonization, conciliation and collaboration.

The committee also wishes to acknowledge that from the time our committee was formed until we reached our decision, the world that we thought we all knew changed dramatically and irrevocably.  While none of us are sure what this new world looks like we have, over the past four months, learned that going back to the status quo is impossible. In many ways this sense of being thrown into an unknown future guided the committee and our decision.

The committee made our decision based on the criteria listed for the award as a work that makes an original contribution by offering new directions in Canadian Theatre and Performance. The works selected are timely in their revolutionary approach to addressing serious gaps, erasures and inequities in the official historical representations of nation that glorify white settler, masculine, and military mythologies while neglecting to address the genocidal treatment of the Indigenous peoples and cultures that accompanied them. The committee is pleased to honour two timely and prescient books by awarding the Ann Saddlemyer Award/Le prix Ann Saddlemyer to Encounters on Contested Lands authored by Julie Burelle and Unbecoming Nationalism authored by Helene Vosters.  Using radically different methodologies and subject matters, both books interrogate and critique the privileged position of the white settler colonist while simultaneously deconstructing national narratives that are familiar to many of us.  Importantly, both authors frame their discussions through performance, provide meaning to the silences and gaps in traditional writings around site(s) of performance, and demonstrate that performance is central to any notion of moving forward.

Encounters on Contested Lands offers a timely, if overdue, critique of the exploitation and appropriation of Indigenous representation and performance by the French Québécois de souche. Burelle’s methodical approach and critical examination of this complex reimagining of a nation’s performed identity undermines recent attempts by the Quebec nation to perform itself though a lens of appropriated Indigeneity and Métis identity(ies). Tracing important historical developments in Quebec theatre and cinema, she finds striking examples of Indigenous art and performance that speak back to the systemic violence by performing the “endurance” that has kept them alive.  In her analysis, Burelle undermines the core of historic francophone performances of nation state with her highly original application of interdisciplinary theories including, Brown’s theory of “wounded attachments.”  The committee made note of Burelle’s careful and insightful analysis of Nadia Myre’s Indian Act and La Marche Amun as endurance performances that challenge contemporary theories and languages embedded in durational performance.  Burelle grounds the last part of the book in a trans-Indigenous methodology, citing a range of Indigenous performative strategies that defy and write-back against the violence exhibited in the previous case studies but also the totality of the violence instituted and perpetuated by settler colonialism.

Coincidentally, the heart of Unbecoming Nationalism is also endurance performance or rather performances, as Vosters interweaves self-reflective meditations and journal entries documenting her own year-long performance, Impact Afghanistan War, within her critique of Canada’s performed nationalisms. In this complex yet deeply personal book Vosters employs a highly original methodology, using a variety of self-directed cultural performance pieces to open a critical enquiry which challenges and refutes recent performances of Canada as nation state. Within this book, performance is writ large and involves an uncomfortable re-thinking and a fierce critique of various institutions, museums and events that perform an established nationalism.  Within this passionate discussion, Vosters invites her audiences to unravel the whitewashing these performed nationalisms try to conceal. Demonstrating how the Harper government’s re-performing of Canada’s military past and the Trudeau government’s performing and performance of Canada 150 while both governments  simultaneously ignored the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action situates Unbecoming Nationalism as an urgent and necessary addition to our understanding how Canada is performed. Vosters book challenges the status quo, highlights contemporary performances and sites of performance that offer a counter-narrative to the official performed narrative, furthers recent explorations of architecture as performance, but most importantly challenges, no, insists, that we all do better.

Both books highlight contemporary Indigenous practices that reject traditional settler narratives or the appropriation of Indigenous narratives and traditional notions of performance that colonists/settlers brought with them and instead champion and foreground Indigenous performance narratives, sites of performance, and performance styles. In these and other ways Encounters on Contested Lands and Unbecoming Nationalism are in conversation with each other.  For many, the discussion will be challenging and uncomfortable, but both books act as guides and provide meaningful entry points to begin and continue these welcomed dialogues.

2020 Committee: Wes D Pearce, Rosalind Kerr, Cam Culham


Honorary membership (CATR) : Rahul Varma

Rahul Varma

CATR is pleased to award Rahul Varma an honorary membership in recognition of his significant and sustained contributions to theatre and the performing arts in Canada. Born in India and based in Montreal, Varma co-founded Teesri Duniya Theatre in 1986, where he remains as its artistic director. Through this company, Varma promotes cultural inclusivity, the production of original work by visible minorities, and gender equity. Varma is himself a published playwright whose work is produced internationally. His breakthrough play, Counter Offence, is a complexly layered drama exploring a range of social and political issues inflected by systemic racism and was celebrated for its honesty, insight, and capacity to transform audience assumptions. Varma was a founding editor of alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage, dedicated to cultural diversity on the stage. He has been a powerful, consistent, persistent voice for social justice, promoter of intercultural performance, and champion of human rights.


Lifetime Achievement Award (CATR)

Dr. Denis W. Salter

Dr. Denis W. Salter

CATR is pleased to recognize Denis Salter’s contributions to theatrical research by granting him the Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented “to honour a member of the Association who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the field of theatre research in Canada.” Having studied at UBC and the University of Toronto in the 1970s, Dr. Salter witnessed the blossoming of Canadian drama, and he contributed to this “huge cultural epistemological shift” through production reviews, an edited collection of Canadian plays, and extensive scholarship celebrating the history and character of theatre in Canada. In addition to his work on Canadian theatre, Dr. Salter’s scholarship reflects his interest in Shakespeare and Canadian adaptations thereof, as well as concerns of social justice and politics. His articles explore multiculturalism and diversity, indigeneity, and gender in both historical and theoretical contexts.

Dr. Salter has worked with alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage since 2006, serving as Editor-in-Chief for several years, where he continues to champion Canadian theatre and scholarship. He is a two-time winner of the Richard Plant Best Essay Prize, and an active contributor to CATR. He served on the CATR board in various capacities, including as President, from 1983 to 1989, and he has subsequently participated in a number of CATR committees. He sat on the editorial board for Theatre Research in Canada/Recherches théâtrales au Canada for 22 years, from 1993 to 2015.

Nominator Ted Little describes Dr. Salter as “a lover of language, debate, discourse, and effective communication; a caring, collegial, and generous human being; and a diligent scholar, excited by new research, and supportive and curious about the ideas of others.” Dr. Salter has been a teacher, mentor, valued colleague, and friend to hundreds. Over the course of his career, he has explored the cracks and sought the light across a wide range of research interests—teasing out interconnections, and using the security of his position as a tenured academic to advocate for others, to shed light on artists, authors, students, and thinkers whose work might not otherwise be seen or heard.

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