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Connections

Drama Centre Research

 

Our core and cross-appointed faculty carry on wide-ranging research across the disciplines, descriptions for which you can find on individual faculty websites

Drama Centre students are often involved with faculty research. What follows is a partial list of projects and organizations that, because of their character, have included a number of our students as editorial and research assistants, and as co-creators. Students have worked for many other faculty members on an individual basis, on projects listed in their individual biographies, and often funded by the Centre.

Journals

 

MODERN DRAMA

Modern Drama was founded in 1958 and is the most prominent journal in English to focus on dramatic literature. The terms “modern” and “drama” are the subject of continuing and fruitful debate, but the journal has been distinguished by the excellence of its close readings of both canonical and lesser-known dramatic texts from a range of methodological perspectives. The journal features refereed articles written from a variety of geo-political points of view which enhance our understanding, both formal and historical, of the dramatic literature of the past two centuries; there is also an extensive book review section. Each year at least two Drama Centre students act as Editorial Assistants on the journal. Editor: Alan Ackerman. 
See Modern Drama

THEATRE RESEARCH IN CANADA / RECHERCHES THÉÂTRALES AU CANADA

Theatre Research in Canada is the peer-reviewed, biannual journal of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research. Published since 1980, it presents a broad range of historical and critical scholarship on theatre as a multidisciplinary art in a Canadian context. Publication features scholarly articles, book reviews, forum editorials and commentary, and documentary research. Past special issues include Space and Subjectivity, Religion and Theatre, Theatre in Atlantic Canada, Translation, Theatre and Education; Intercultural Theatre; and Intermediality. Each year at least two Drama Centre students act as Editorial Assistants on the journal. Editor: Glen Nichols, University of Moncton; Executive Editor: Barry Freeman, University of Toronto. 
See Theatre Research in Canada/ Recherches théâtrales au Canada

Ongoing Large-scale Research Projects

 

CENTRE FOR PERFORMANCE STUDIES IN EARLY THEATRE / POCULI LUDIQUE SOCIETAS

Since 1964 PLS (now CPSET/PLS) has sponsored productions that have explored the staging of early plays, from the beginnings of medieval drama to as late as the middle of the seventeenth century. The group operates in affiliation with the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, PLS has toured in Canada, the United States and Europe. Its most recent research project has been the Shakespeare and the Queen’s Men , a SSHRC funded exploration of the staging techniques of this important Elizabethan actors company. Students from the Drama Centre have been involved in all aspects of these performances, in dramaturgy, design, and acting, in the process exploring history through performance. Chair of Board of Directors: Alexandra Johnston, Artistic Director: Linda Phillips. 
See CPSET/PLS

CREATIVE SPACES: CANADIAN DEVELOPMENTAL DRAMATURGY

A three-year research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The research focuses on the material conditions – the personnel, facilities, funding structures, and practices – of new text-based play development in this country. The research design involves multiple stages: 1) an extensive literature review; 2) a nation-wide survey of all professional producing and non-producing theatre organizations; 3) 10 in-depth case studies involving interviews and on-site observation; 4) detailed analysis utilizing advanced qualitative software; 5) and the generation of a variety of research products, including articles, conference presentations, book publications, and a website. So far, in addition to multiple conference presentations (e.g., CATR, LMDA), the research has resulted in one book publication: Developing Nation: New Play Development in English Speaking Canada (2009, Playwrights Canada Press). The lead researchers currently analyzing the full data set and working towards a second scholarly book publication and the preparation of the project website.

The project is in its final stages. To date, it has employed one undergraduate and seven graduate students as Research Assistants, who have participated in the literature review; the dissemination, collection, and organization of the national survey; inputting and coding of survey and interview data; and data analysis. Research Head: Bruce Barton; Research Consultant: Pil Hansen (SSHRC Post-Doc with the Drama Centre, 2009-11); Research Assistants: Natalie Corbett, Barry Freeman, Christopher Jackman, Merrin Joy, Patrick Robinson, Birgit Schreyer Duarte, Aktina Stathaki, Keren Zaointz.

HOW THE DOING IS DONE: INTERACTUALITY IN CANADIAN THEATRICAL DEVISING

This new research project (2009-13) has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. It involves a substantial literature review, a series of six in-depth case studies, a large experimental workshop and showcase, and an ongoing online archive and exchange forum. The objectives of this program of research are three-fold: 1) to provide an historical and contemporary survey of physically-based devised theatre in Canada; 2) to articulate an original theoretical perspective for the dramaturgical analysis of physically-based devised theatre across diverse training and creative processes; and 3) to establish a conceptual vocabulary for cross-process exchange and collaboration among physically-based devised theatre practitioners in Canada and beyond. Research Head: Bruce Barton.

THE JUBA PROJECT: TRADITIONS OF BLACKFACE MINSTRELSY

The Juba Project is a SSHRC-funded research project that has looked at the spread of blackface minstrel performance from the United States through Great Britain during the 1840s. The project has built a database that can be searched by venue, individual, troupe, song & act, making available contextual information, documents, recordings and imagery, all on line. Also available on its website: sample documents, examinations of representative performers, and an Artists Respond section. Graduate students have been involved in this project in important ways, from the searching of microfilm to the building of websites, and including interviewing and performing. Their names can be found in the credits section of the database. Project leader: Stephen Johnson. 
See The Juba Project

FRINGES OF SHOW BUSINESS: REGIONAL PERFORMANCE TRADITIONS AND SOUTHERN ONTARIO

Fringes of Show Business is a new long-term project funded by a SSHRC Research Development Grant, building on the work of The Juba Project, redirected to record and to explore all aspects of performance in a historical, regional immigrant culture, focusing on the ‘region’ of Southern Ontario (or ‘Canada West’) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The model of the database will be continued, searchable by event, venue, individual, troupe, song and act, and again making documents widely available on the web. Undergraduate and Graduate students have been involved in areas of general and personal research interest, accumulating information on performance in local communities (Guelph, Milton, Hamilton), and on particular genres and media (magic, early film). An Artists Respond section will soon be available, and all research will be made available as it is accumulated. Project Leader: Stephen Johnson. See Fringes of Show Business

DIGITAL DRAMATURGY LAB

The Digital Dramaturgy Lab (DDL) is a networking platform for artists, technicians and programmers, students and scholars, based at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies that critically and playfully investigates the relationship between digital technology and live performance in the performing arts (theatre, dance, interactive installations, puppetry, musical performance/concerts, multi-media experiments). We are also in a collaborative relationship with U of T’s Knowledge Media Design Institute.

Dramaturgy here is understood as the conceptual and structuring critical making of intermedial performance that informs an integrated approach to aspects of creative learning/thinking in the field of artistic performative production.

We are particularly interested in questions of digital literacy among artists, aesthetic literacy among technicians/computer specialists, the challenges and potentials of collaboratively organized rehearsal processes that involve a multitude of specialized professional languages.

How can we bridge the gap that is created through increasingly specialized labor division on the one hand and outdated traditional ways of performance creation and production on the other?

How are established authoritative hierarchies among creators, producers and audiences challenged and replaced by more innovative, open and inclusive practices of collaborative artistic work?

How does digital technology inform creative choices of form, context and content of performance and the impact on performer-audience and interactive audience-audience relations in live performance (i.e. gaming strategies in installations or responsive communications via internet and mobile communication technology)?

How is the role of performing bodies, that create an event of theatrical live interaction (including actors/singers/dancers/puppeteers/magicians and audiences as much as technicians, stage managers, designers, writers etc.) changing and shifting while at the same time deeply rooted in ancient, modern and post-modern practices of aesthetic and political physicality (race, gender, age, ability etc.) across cultures?

The DDL approaches the investigation of these questions and practices through performance experiments, workshops, critical writing/publications and an active mutually interested communication process and sharing of knowledge/ideas/experiences among artists, scientists, programmers, scholars and students (many of them often negotiating more than one of these “roles”).

Recent activities:

“Homo Ludens – The Playing Body” workshop for Design with Dialogue, OCAD http://dwd-oct2012.eventbrite.com

“Artaud’s Cage”, performance experiment presented at The Future of Cage: Credo. http://futureofcage.weebly.com/index.html

BRAinStORM 1, public discussion event exploring needs and ideas that could inform DDL’s activities and profile at Collective Studio, http://www.collectivestudio.ca

 “animating/animated bodies”, workshop for F.O.O.T. Festival of Original Theatre http://foot2013.wordpress.com/workshops/

RECORDS OF EARLY ENGLISH DRAMA

REED is an international scholarly project that is establishing for the first time the broad context from which the great drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries grew. REED examines the historical MSS that provide external evidence of drama, secular music, and other communal entertainment and ceremony from the Middle Ages until 1642, when the Puritans closed the London theatres. Founded in 1975, REED has for the last 34 years worked to locate, transcribe, and edit all surviving documentary evidence of drama, minstrelsy, and public ceremonial in England before 1642. In any year, from two to four Drama Centre graduate students are involved in the research generated by this project. Associate Director: Sally-Beth MacLean. 
See REED


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