Performing the Anthropocene – Setting the Stage for the End of the World

By

We would like to acknowledge this sacred land. It has been a site of human activity for 15,000 years. Takaronto has been stewarded by the Erie, Petun, Wendat, and Seneca First Nations, the Anishinaabeg and most recently the Mississaguas of the New Credit First Nation. The territory was the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Three Fires Confederacy (of the Anishinaabeg) to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

Today, the meeting place of Toronto is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work in the community, on this territory.

Performing the Anthropocene

Setting the Stage for the End of the World

Canadian Association for Theatre Research
L’association canadienne de la recherche théâtrale (CATR/ACRT)
Toronto, Ontario
Saturday 27 May – Tuesday 30 May 2017
Call for Organizers: Curated Panels, Seminars, Roundtables, and Praxis Events 
DEADLINE 21 OCTOBER 2016

 Once, the Dream’s parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmuting of oil into food have enabled an expansion in plunder with no known precedent. And this revolution has freed the Dreamers to plunder not just the bodies of humans but the body of the Earth itself.
—Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (2015)

Scientists may provide precious data and design solutions to address the climate crisis. But what artists can do, perhaps better than anybody, is to create the narrative that will make this endeavour an exciting and even spiritually rewarding one. […A]rtists have rewritten history to correct mistakes, point out omissions, and give a voice to those who were silenced. This time, we have a chance to write history before it happens and to put in place-markers that will guide us in our journey forward.
—Chantal Bilodeau, “Addressing Climate Change One (Theatre) Artist at a Time” (2009) 


Geological change and its effects on the global political climate informs the notion of the Anthropocene: “a new epoch in Earth’s geological history […] characterized by the advent of the human species as a geological force” (Scranton 2015). Canadians, as global citizens and consumers, are performing the Anthropocene as we live it. Canada is the second largest country in the world, though four-fifths of its population hovers near its southern border—leaving the majority of its land space to forests, Tundra, and the Rocky Mountains. Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna garnered international praise in December 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris for her commitment to maintaining average rising temperatures to within 1.5 degrees C (rather than the proposed 2 degrees C) of pre-industrial levels. But only six months later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came under attack for approving permits for the Site C dam on British Columbia’s Peace River—its construction irreversibly impacting Treaty 8 First Nations. In July 2016, over two hundred people met in Vancouver as part of the Paddle for Peace campaign to protest the construction, and, in a parallel situation in the US, in August, over one thousand Native American activists on foot and horseback effectively shut down construction on the Dakota Access pipeline—a pipeline with similar ramifications as the Site C dam to local tribes in North Dakota.

These events foreground the harsh dialectic between economic and industrial progress and individual and social justice. An intersectional approach to climate change notes the ways in which Indigenous and otherwise marginalized communities experience increased health risks and depleting access to clean water and other resources. Climate change will inevitably affect everyone in the Anthropocene, but it will not impact everyone in the same way.

Like performance, the Anthropocene is contingent on its, and our, own disappearance. This conference asks: How is the human impact on the environment represented in theatre and performance? Does awareness of the Anthropocene give rise to altered aesthetics, practices, revive former traditions, or suggest their abandonment? What of performance practice’s geological impacts? Might the Anthropocene displace or reorient the (generally) human-centred activity of theatre and performance? Where do theatre and performance fit in this new, contested subdivision of geological time? Can we read the Anthropocene as another, pressing form of agon? How do we perform or represent a new, contemporary era, or geological time, or conflicting geological and environmental forces?  How can performance present a better strategy for effecting change in geo-political social life? Canada’s celebration of 150 years of sovereignty in 2017 highlights again issues of land rights, de/colonization, and the asymmetrical impacts of climate change raised by the Anthropocene.

We invite proposals for curated panels, roundtables, seminars, praxis workshops, and performances from scholars and artists, with emphasis on foregrounding voices from underrepresented or marginalized perspectives, including POC, Indigenous, black, queer, and independent scholars and artists. We welcome the range of research (from auto-ethnographic, to arts- and action-based, to semiotic), practice (from embodied work, studio exploration to dramaturgy), and pedagogy (from class-room based, to peer review, mentorship). All forms are encouraged.

While we encourage proposals to consider the theme of the conference, scholars and artists should not feel limited by its parameters. Scholars may think of ways “performing/staging the Anthropocene” intersect and impact their own chosen areas of research and practice. Please consider how working through this lens may offer new ways of approaching analysis, theatre/performance studies, criticism, etc. Scholars who propose papers not related to the theme, per se, may consider how their proposal sheds new light on marginal or historically silent voices, or explores areas that are underresearched.

Please note: the calls below are for curated events only. A separate open call for papers will be circulated in early October.

All accepted presenters and participants are required to join CATR. For more information on CATR and to join or renew your membership please visit http://www.catractr.ca.

Please send all proposals to T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko, National Conference Chair, at catr2017.conference@gmail.com by 21 October 2016.

Call for Curated Paper Panels: due 21 October 2016
Proposals are invited from prospective organizers for curated paper panels on any topic related to theatre and performance, Canadian or international in scope, and including praxis. Prospective organizers are asked to submit a 300-word proposal along with a 300-word call for participants. Proposals should include the title of the panel, a scholarly rationale, and a brief description of how the panel will be structured. The call for participants should specify the title and focus of the panel along with a short list of potential topics or perspectives, a brief description of what will be required of panelists, and contact information.

Call for Seminars and Roundtables: due 21 October 2016
Proposals are invited from prospective organizers for seminars and roundtables related to the relationship between theatre and performance and the conference theme, Canadian or international in scope. Prospective organizers are asked to submit a 300-word proposal along with a 300-word call for participants. Proposals should include the title of the session, a scholarly rationale, along with a description of structure and proposed length. The call for participants should specify the title and focus of the session, a list of issues and goals, a description of work required, due dates, and contact information. Please note that seminars will be scheduled for three hours and roundtables for ninety minutes.

CATR Seminar and Roundtable Guidelines
Ways of engaging seminar and roundtable participants might include:

  • Exchange of papers prior to the session.
  • Respondents to papers in preparation for online discussion or conference session.
  • Editing of pre- or post-conference papers among session participants.
  • A reading list related to the topic and participants’ work in preparation for discussion at the conference.
  • Email discussion of the general issues related to the topic and an arrangement of procedures for the session.
  • Grouping of participants and designation of discussion topics for breakout groups during the session.
  • Organizing participants in “love / love” and “love / hate” matches, curating discussion amongst speakers whose perspectives align or drastically differ.

Participants are not to read or provide lengthy oral summaries of their papers during the session. All seminars and roundtables are open to auditors.

Call for Praxis Workshops and Performances: due 21 October 2016
Praxis sessions represent the intersection of scholarly inquiry and creative practice and offer a forum for scholar/practitioners to introduce conference attendees to their artistic research activities. Sessions may take the form of participatory workshops, interactive presentations, or contextualized performances, and may be targeted to participants with specialized preparation/training or to general audiences. Potential praxis session facilitators are asked to submit proposals for ninety-minute sessions (alternate lengths and formats will be considered on request). The artistic research involved should either be current and distinct, or should focus on novel and/or emerging applications of existing techniques or methodologies.

Proposals of 250-500 words should include the title of the session and a rationale that reflects a clear artistic research framework, along with a description of the proposed structure. Please indicate space and/or equipment needs, the preferred and maximum numbers of participants, and whether auditors (nonparticipant observers) are welcome.

CATR Praxis Workshops and Performances Guidelines
Possible approaches to the praxis workshops and performances might include:

  • Workshops on technique or process;
  • Presentations of and discussions about praxis-based research;
  • Presentations of performance works-in-progress and group critique/feedback;
  • Performance interventions in conference spaces.

CATR/ACRT 2017 Programming Committee:

Bruce Barton, University of Calgary
Jill Carter, University of Toronto
T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko, University of Toronto
Eury Chang, University of British Columbia
Jenn Cole, University of Toronto
Erin Hurley, McGill University
Rilla Khaled, Concordia University
Laine Zisman Newman, University of Toronto
Juliet Palmer, Toronto
VK Preston, University of Toronto
Kim Solga, Western University