It has been thirteen years since the last special issue of a journal was produced on the topic of Festivals (Contemporary Theatre Review 13.4, in 2003). Yet it remains true that, as Karen Fricker argued in that issue, ““Festivals are a complex, and undertheorized, field within theatre studies. They are a crucially important site for the production, distribution and reception of theatre productions on local, national and international levels, and yet little work has been done within the academy to analyze the ways that contemporary festivals function, and the meanings they contain and disseminate.”
In that time the numbers and kinds of festivals within Canada and internationally has increased exponentially, and events that used merely to be events have become “festivalized”—structured, marketed, and promoted in ways that stress brand identities, urban centres as tourist destinations, and the corporate attractiveness of “creative cities,” all participating in the “eventification” of culture. These corporate, municipal, and state practices and the critical literature supporting them have paid less attention to the actual content and impact of international festivals that draw from and represent multiple cultures and cultural forms, or to what roles festivals play in one of the most urgent processes of our times: intercultural communication and exchange.
Meanwhile, a new kind of festival has emerged, in which small intercultural theatre and performance companies such as Aluna Theatre in Toronto, MT Space Theatre in Kitchener, and the Prismatic Festival in Halifax, largely bypass diplomatic brokerage and stage festivals that are explicitly focused on the intercultural, and in the relationships among the local and the transnational. Such festivals avoid the large festival phenomenon in which participants arrive, mount their own shows, and leave, often without even seeing anyone else’s work much less engaging in cross-cultural dialogue. At small-scale, ground-up events such as Aluna’s Panamerican Routes/RUTAS panamericanas and MT Space’s IMPACT, the conferences, colloquia, and workshops, as sites of intercultural negotiation and exchange, are at least as important as the shows.
Submissions are invited in English or French for a special issue of Theatre Research in Canada/Recherches théâtrales au Canada that focus on festivals, “festivalization,” and their roles in relationship to inter- and intracultural as well as interdisciplinary and aesthetic exchange. Submissions are welcome on individual festivals such as Vancouver’s PuSH, or Talking Stick; Calgary’s High Performance Rodeo; Kitchener’s IMPACT; Toronto’s Panamerican Routes/RUTAS Panamericanas, Summerworks, Nuit Blanche, or Luminato; Montreal’s Festival TransAmérique or Montréal Complètement Cirque; Halifax’s Prismatic; St. John’s’ Sound Symposium, or any others. Submissions would also be welcome on local small and emergent festivals, on fringe festivals, or on festival circuits or individual artists or productions working those circuits, as would submissions taking a comparative approach.
Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:
- Festivals as sites of tension between the local and global and sites of (unequal?) negotiation between cultures and cultural forms
- The impact of globalization, urban promotional discourses such as “creative city” theory, and branding on the ways in which trans- and intercultural negotiations are framed and practiced at festivals
- The phenomenon of “the festival city”
- New play development festivals
- Canadian participation at festivals internationally
- Festivals and Indigenous performance
- Festivals, gender, and sexuality
- Festivals and municipal governance and promotion
- Festivals and urban or rural space
- Festivals as tourist destinations
- Festivals and “Place Myths”
- “Festivalization” and the “eventification” of culture
- Festivals as sites of aesthetic and (inter)disciplinary experimentation
- The funding and sponsorship of festivals
Submissions of up to 7000 words, using the third edition of the MLA Style Manual and including an abstract and brief biographical note should be sent by 1 November 2017, by email attachment, to:
(For details submission guidelines see http://tricrtac.ca/en/for-authors/ )
The issue is scheduled to appear in May 2019.