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Call for Papers — Staging Strategies: Trends in Canadian Drama and Performing Arts


Studies in Canadian Literature — Special Issue

Staging Strategies: Trends in Canadian Drama and Performing Arts

Edited by Janne Cleveland and Cynthia Sugars

Call for Papers

Studies in Canadian Literature / Études en littérature canadienne (SCL/ÉLC) invites interdisciplinary contributions to a special issue on Canadian Drama and the Performing Arts.

This special issue invites submissions on the ways Canadian dramatists, scholars, theatre and performing arts practitioners, and audiences are engaging with the changing, and sometimes unstable, social and cultural landscapes of our time. Theatre, and the performing arts in general, respond to and reflect the socio-cultural conditions from which they emerge. How are concepts of performance and performativity adapting to reflect changing notions of identity and selfhood? How do theatrical representations respond to anxieties and traumas emerging from unstable political contexts? How do the performing arts attempt to de-colonize inherited narratives, systemic prejudices, and fraught social inequities? In this issue, we consider how theatre – and the performing arts generally – are responding to the challenges of an unstable sociopolitical landscape. These fraught conditions include, but are not limited to, the climate crisis, the pandemic, racialized oppressions, distrust of sources of information (fake news), technological changes, gender biases, and human rights inequities. In what ways has the inherently social and collective nature of theatre been used to forge new forms of community, sometimes by exploiting technological innovations? How have these developments found new ways to engage and inscribe audiences within emerging collective visions, sometimes by mobilizing a positive sense of community in the face of these pressures? What roles did online theatrical projects play in responding to the isolating effects of the pandemic?

This special issue will examine how theatre and the performing arts – including dance, music, and opera, as well as drama – are developing modes of representation that speak to some of these challenges. In some cases, dramatists and culture workers have had to re-imagine what theatre performance and production will look like in the future, including reconceptualizing the notion of “audience” and “theatre” itself. Other changes have involved rethinking the history of theatre in Canada, from theatre institutions themselves to the canon of Canadian (and non-Canadian) dramatic texts, to issues around pedagogy and performance. How can performance spaces and practices intervene in the challenges that confront us today? How are Canadian dramatists responding to these challenges? How is theatre and/or performance activism enacted? What are the future directions of Canadian theatre?

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • The contributions of BIPOC perspectives and anti-racist activism
  • Indigenous theatre – playwrights, directors, actors, reviewers, scholars, theatre companies
  • The central role of class dynamics in theatre texts and/or institutional settings
  • Queering Canadian drama -- How gender is being reimagined, and re-performed, on contemporary stages
  • Theatre and trauma
  • Staging in the times of COVID-19 (during and post-pandemic)
  • Theatre and disability
  • Theatre and ageism
  • History and the present -- where do they meet; how have they changed?
  • Drag performance(s)
  • Theatre and technology
  • Teaching performance theories and staging strategies; theatre pedagogy
  • (Re)presenting the canon
  • Climate activism and theatre
  • And the winner is…theatre and the institution(s) of Canadian drama (prizes, arts grants, national institutions, etc.)
  • Fringe and other festivals
  • Theatre activism – what does this look like; where is it going?
  • Theatre and interdisciplinarity – music, dance, puppetry, masks, video
  • Theatrical reviews and theatre criticism
  • Theatre and censorship
  • Francophone performance in Québec and Canada
  • Theatre as a response to neoliberalism and late capitalism
  • Theatre and/or/in the nation-state
  • Situating Canadian performance/drama on the global stage
  • National theatre as anachronism?
  • Grassroots/community theatre
  • Regional theatre
  • Mobilizing audiences in a digital age

We welcome submissions of essays of 6000-8000 words, including Notes and Works Cited, on topics related to this general theme. English contributions should conform to the MLA Handbook, 8th edition; French submissions to Le guide du rédacteur (Translation Bureau, 1996). Submissions should be sent via Word attachment to

Deadline for submissions is 30 April 2023.

For further details about submissions, visit or contact Cynthia Sugars (University of Ottawa)   OR

Janne Cleveland (Carleton University) JanneCleveland@Cunet.Carleton.Ca