Partition/Ensemble: CATR/SQET 2020
        Call for Open Papers, Demonstrations or Posters

From May 25th to 28th, 2020, the Canadian Association for Theatre Research and the Société québécoise d’études théâtrales will hold a joint, bilingual conference on the theme “Partition/Ensemble.” Under this banner, we will discuss modes of scenic composition and creative processes (partition in French) and of intellectual and artistic traditions – both shared (“ensemble”) and distinct (“partition” in English) – in Canada. To be held in Montreal at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Concordia University, this conference invites us to traverse the city and Canada’s two official languages.

The theme of the 2020 conference already embodies such a gesture. In French, the first definition of partition refers to a system of notation that brings together many notes in order to produce a musical composition (a “score”). While the idea of a score and scoring is central to contemporary, non-text-based creative practice in English too, “partition” in the language of Shakespeare refers first and foremost an act of separation, the state of being parted, or a dividing object. On the other hand, the French-language and English-language meanings of “ensemble” overlap more significantly. In each, ensemble means “together” and also refers to a “set” or “unity” of things that go together, as well as having a shared meaning in the performing arts: a group of artists working toward a common goal. In taking up both these ideas of collective sharing and of division or enclosure, “Partition/Ensemble” gestures toward a constellation of meanings that conjugate diversely yet resonate strongly in English and in French. Our 2020 conference serves as an occasion to unpack the notions of “partition” and “ensemble” in the performing arts in all their aesthetic and political senses.

Associated with the performing arts, the words partition/score may be viewed from two angles: graphic and performative. Their graphic element lies in their reference to modes of notation and codification of a work, scores that allow for the work’s transmission; partition/score is performative when associated with a process of creation, with ways of creating a piece. In their study of “partition” in 20th and 21st century theatre, Julie Sermon and Yvane Chapuis write “the term partition returns us to a concrete object of mediation: it is a material support housing an ensemble of signs to be decoded and put into play according to more or less established rules and conventions” (2016).

  • Partition/score a site for the invention of compositional modes that are scenic, corporeal, musical, and more within an ensemble or an artistic collective. How do the different ‘languages’ of scoring (movement notation, sound-creation, dramaturgical analysis, devising practices) come together in productions that cross disciplinary boundaries?
  • Partition/score as a material of and toward memory which preserves the trace of a performance, of a creative process and enables their artistic, historical, or pedagogical transmission.
  • Partition/score as an aesthetic form founded in assemblage, the fragment, gaps, tasks to execute instead of in a dramatic plot or story.
  • Partition/score as a means of engaging in dialogue with creators from the past, present and future, forming a kind of transtemporal ensemble. In as much as the word also evokes division and distribution (e.g., of parts, of roles), the question of the sharing and organisation of creative work by groups of theatre artists may also be addressed.

These potential topics will allow us to examine together the aesthetic, creative, and cultural intersections do these crossings allow, constrain, and challenge.

In its primary English-language usage, “partition” might be conceived as a spatial and social element. Here, a partition is a physical divider (such as, a curtain or a room partition) or a conceptual one, such as an ideological border. In this sense, “partition” conjures geopolitical rupture and social dissensus. This aspect of partition highlights ruptures caused by Canadian settler-colonialism with Indigenous territories, ways of knowing and of being together – a rupture that inflects the social-spatial configuration of our 2020 host city of Montreal and that is overlaid by a second partitioning along linguistic lines. Partition holds deeply theatrical meanings, as much performance practice is founded in social and spatial divides of one kind or another – backstage and onstage, audience and performer. And yet, as the theatrical example shows, the space of partition is also a space of jointure or connection; just as a border divides lands, so too does it connect them. We might ask:

  • What territories do CATR and SQET share/divide/distribute [se partager]?
  • We might pose this question about our disciplinary positionings: theatre studies, performance studies, indigenous studies, and other disciplines.
  • What divisions and distributions of shares (parts) are possible in plurilingual colonial, postcolonial and decolonial spaces like the island of Montréal?

CATR/SQET- Ensemble/Partition

These two major through-lines of the conference – partition / ensemble – need not be conceptualised as entirely separate, but rather as concomitant: for instance, creative practices always enact a micro-politics in which ways of being together are invented, elaborated, and negotiated; territorial and linguistic partitions (divisions) are also points of connection.

We welcome a range of research subjects and approaches. We encourage proposals engaging with the conference theme, but proposals that depart from the theme will also be considered. As well as proposals for traditional academic papers, we welcome proposals for workshop demonstrations and poster presentations. Proposals of demonstrations or poster presentations must indicate any specific spatial and technical needs.

Your submission should include the following: a 250-word proposal, your name and affiliation, and a 100-word bio. Send these to by December 4, 2019.

All accepted presenters and participants are required to join either CATR or SQET, or to become dual-members at a special discounted rate. For more information on CATR and SQET, and to join or renew your membership, visit: and

Sylvain Lavoie (Concordia University)
Nicole Nolette (University of Waterloo)
Co-Chairs – Conference Programming Committee
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