Guest Co-Editor’s Introduction

Natalie Alvarez
University of Toronto

1 Hosting a conference intended as a celebration of Atlantic Canadian theatre in Toronto may strike some as an odd, if not inappropriate location. It was, perhaps, in an effort to compensate for potential feelings of dislocation and perceptions of Toronto-centrism that in the early stages of the conference planning, I found myself pushing for a piper to play between conference panels, lunch tables arrayed with plastic lobsters, and shots of Screech for nervous presenters. Thankfully, Bruce found a way to steer me away gently from such ideas.

2 In a way, the distance from the originary ‘home’ of this conference cultivated a sense of reflective, critical remove and indeed nostalgia, to which Ric Knowles alludes in his closing words to this volume. While nostalgia might, in its conventional understanding, be conceived as an uncritical state of reverie, in this case, the palpable sense of nostalgia proved to be a productive mode of inquiry; reflections on Atlantic theatre’s past generated from investigations of its present, led to considerations of its futurity, encompassing the scope of temporality invited by the conference’s title. The critical and performative activity produced around the idea of Atlantic Canadian theatre served to re-constitute a sense of that place there, here in Toronto, reflecting the ways in which a sense of place and culture can be engendered in the collective imaginary. Critical interrogations of the notion of "community" aside, it is difficult not to embrace the idea after skipping rope—indeed, even double-dutching—with someone you had shared a panel with a few hours before, as we did in our workshop with Artistic Fraud. The conference succeeded in creating a sense of collectivity, dare I say community, and indeed, the "home" away from home. Even without the piper.