Performance Studies (Canada) Speaker Series, 2013 Theme: Methodological Futures


Image from Einstein on the Beach. Photo by Lucie Jansch, courtesy of Pomegranate Arts.

This speaker series is organized and sponsored by the Graduate Program in Theatre Studies at York University and the Performance Studies (Canada) Project. These events are open to the public. 

  • Friday, March 1, 11:00am – 12:30pm

    Location: Upper Library, Massey College, 4 Devonshire Place, Toronto

    Co-sponsored with the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies

    Rebecca Schneider

    “Acting in Ruins: the Interval and the Loop”

    If 20th-century time-based arts were often interested in the radical potential of a instantaneous “Now!,” 21-century time-based arts manifest a more multiple or porous temporality. What is sometimes called “live art” has become vibrantly investment in the once “dead” rendered “live” — again. Documents turn from records to scripts in widespread practices of reenactment. This paper looks at the almost frenzied drive to reanimation in the art world, asking about that frenzy’s relation to circuits of exchange in late, late, and later capitalism. Attentive to questions of methodology, I will ask how we might approach intervals between performances as important sites of analysis, or, conversely, how we might think about the “loop” in many (re)current performance-based works.

    Bio: Rebecca Schneider, Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, teaches performance studies, theatre studies, and theories of intermedia. In addition to publishing essays in several anthologies, she is the author of The Explicit Body in Performance (Routledge, 1997) and Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment (Routledge 2011). She has also coedited the anthology Re:Direction: A Theoretical and Practical Guide to 20th-Century Directing. She is a consortium editor for TDR, contributing editor to Women and Theatre, coeditor with David Krasner of the book series “Theatre: Theory/Text/Performance” with University of Michigan Press, and consulting editor for the series “Performance Interventions” with Palgrave MacMillan. As a “performing theorist,” she has collaborated with artists at such sites as the British Museum in London and the Mobile Academy in Berlin, and delivered lectures at museums such as the Guggenheim in New York and the Gulbenkian in Lisbon.

  • Friday, March 15, 11am-12:30pm

    Location: Upper Library, Massey College, 4 Devonshire Place, Toronto

    Co-sponsored with the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies

    Sarah Bay-Cheng

    “New Methods | New Media: Digital Historiography and Einstein on the Beach”

    In this talk, Sarah Bay-Cheng suggests a new framework for viewing and restaging past performances through the digital lenses of contemporary performance historiography. Taking the recent revival of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach as a critical case study, Bay-Cheng considers the ways that digital records and social media affect notions of documentation, presence, and the recirculation of performance both as presumably live events and through mediated networks.

    Bio: Sarah Bay-Cheng is Associate Professor & Director of Graduate Studies at the University at Buffalo, where she is also the Founding Director of the Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies. Her publications include Mapping Intermediality in PerformancePoets at Play: An Anthology of Modernist Drama, and Mama Dada: Gertrude Stein’s Avant-Garde Theater. With Martin Harries, Sarah co-edits the new book series Avant-Gardes in Performance for Palgrave Macmillan Press and she is currently working on a new book and website project: Taxonomies: Media x Performance with Jennifer Parker-Starbuck and David Saltz for the University of Michigan Press.


  • Wednesday, April 10th, 4:00pm-5:30pm

    Location: Joseph G. Green Theatre, in Centre for Film and Theatre, York University

    Co-sponsored with Centre for Imaginative Ethnography, York U’s Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, and Ad Hoc Research Fund

    Andrew Irving

    “The Art of Life and Death: Everyday Adventures in Contingency and Destiny”

    The Art of Life and Death explores the relationship between everyday action, the contingencies of life and death, and the imaginative and inner lifeworlds of the random strangers we pass on the street. It draws on rough magic, modernist literature, and performance to try to understand the lives of other citizens and the radical consequences of turning right and left in open public spaces. Sites that enable convergence and movement within a city, such as thoroughfares, junctions, crossroads and doorways, are important settings of contingency and possibility that may have profound existential consequences for people’s current and future lives. People’s actions and choices at such junctures continuously open up and close down different possible life courses, whose consequences range from the trivial to the tragic, are unforeseen and unknowable, and despite our best efforts can lead to both life and death. By thinking how movements of happenstance and destiny are accompanied by streams of inner dialogue, mood and imagination that are rooted in a person’s ongoing existential concerns and situation, the Art of Life and Death highlights how seemingly congruent public actions and practices (e.g. walking, sitting, commuting) and shared social environments (streets, crossroads, squares) are differentiated by uncharted realms of contingency, desire and imagination.

    Bio: Andrew Irving is based in the Department of Anthropology and Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester. His primary research area explores how the world appears to people close to death, particularly in relation to transformations in perception in terms of time, existence, religion, otherness and imagination, and uses collaborative and mixed media approaches to understand how culture, religion and gender mediate people’s experiences of illness, death and dying. Recent articles include “Strange Distance: Towards an Anthropology of Interior Dialogue” (Medical Anthropology Quarterly 2011); “The Color of Pain” (Public Culture 2009); and “Ethnography, Art and Death” (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2007) which was awarded the American Anthropological Association’s AIDS Research Group’s ‘Clark Taylor Professional Prize’.


  • Friday, April 26, 9:30am – 10:30am (keynote); 4:30pm – 6:00pm (roundtable discussion)

    Location: Accolade East, Room 207, York University

    Co-sponsored with Performance In/And the Street: A Graduate Symposium

    Jan Cohen-Cruz and Morgan Jenness, in conversation

    “Using a Historical Toolbox to Think Out-of-the-Box for the Future”

    Jan Cohen-Cruz and Morgan Jenness will respond to current impulses to make street performance by exploring past approaches and theories, not to box in current possibilities but to offer past examples as a tool box which practitioners and theorists here and now can use to further their own visions. They will identify rich resources from history and trace how these resonate with particularly powerful examples of street performances exploding around the globe today and how these lineages can be taken in new exciting contemporary directions.

    Bio: Jan Cohen-Cruz is director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, a national consortium of some 80 colleges and universities committed to campus-community partnerships through the arts, humanities and design, located at Syracuse University. Jan wrote Local Acts: Community‑Based Performance in the US, edited Radical Street Performance, and, with Mady Schutzman, co‑edited Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism and A Boal Companion: Dialogues on Art and Cultural Politics. As a longtime professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Cohen‑Cruz produced community‑based arts projects  including one on community gardens and another on gentrification. She also directed the minor in applied theatre and Tisch’s Office of Community Connections, and was among the founders of the Department of Art and Public Policy. She recently co‑conceptualized/ co‑initiated HOME, New Orleans, collaborating with local universities, artists, and other residents, experimenting with art’s role in the revitalization of “home” as dwelling, neighborhood, and that city itself.

    For over 10 years, Morgan Jenness worked at the Public Theater, under both George C.Wolfe and Joseph Papp in roles ranging from literary manager to Director of Play Development to Associate Producer of the NY Shakespeare Festival. She was also Associate Artistic Director at the New York Theater Workshop, and an Associate Director at the Los Angeles Theater Center in charge of new projects. She has worked with the Young Playwrights Festival, the Mark Taper Forum, The Playwrights Center/Playlabs, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Double Image/New York Stage and Film, CSC, Victory Gardens, Hartford Stage, and Center Stage as a dramaturg, workshop director, and/or artistic consultant. She has participated as a visiting artist and adjunct in playwriting programs at the University of Iowa, Brown University, Breadloaf, Columbia and NYU and is currently on the faculty at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she teaches Theater History.