Dr. Kailin Wright, an associate professor in the StFX English Department, is co-organizing the Canadian Association of Theatre Research (CATR)'s annual conference. In celebrating the East Coast and its performance cultures, this year’s theme is "Performing Shores / The Shores of Performance" with keynotes by shalan joudry, Shauntay Grant, and Mike and Mique'l Dangeli.
In an age when many shorelines are threatened by climate change, acknowledging their importance to performance cultures seems especially vital, Dr. Wright says. Hence, CATR’s 2023 conference, “Performing Shores / The Shores of Performance,” invites theatre scholars and artist to gather on literal and theoretical shorelines to discuss and re-imagine the future shores of theatre, drama, dance, and performance studies in Turtle Island and beyond.
Local Mi’kmaw artist Alan Syliboy shared one of his whale paintings for the conference image this year—a vibrantly colored piece that layers symbols and uses mark making to create depth. Dr. Wright says, “I hope his stunning whale helps welcome everyone to this year’s Shores of Performance conference and inspires us to experience layers of meaning in performances and papers during the next week of conference events.”
The CATR Conference image with a whale painting by Alan Syliboy.
In addition to the organizing and conference teams, three StFX English students—Taylor DeCoste, Ciara Wainwright, and Sara Waldron—are acting as conference support for the online panels and gaining experience in a scholarly conference.
The conference takes place in two parts: a virtual conference June 10-12, co-hosted by St. Francis Xavier University and the University of the Fraser Valley (Dr. Heather Davis-Fisch), and an in-person at Dalhousie University (Dr. Roberta Barker) from June 15-17. StFX is supporting this conference in addition to a SSHRC Connections Grant and the generous aid of numerous other supporters.
With speakers and performers from around the world and at least eight different time zones, the conference features:
• Three keynote sessions, all focused on the work of Indigenous scholar-artists and scholar-artists of colour from host territories of the conference.
• An in-person plenary presentation, “Irresistible Practices,” led by the Environmental Stewardship and Course Correction Working Groups: CATR’s first ever Working Group-led plenary
• Online and in-person meetings of CATR’s Task Force on Precarity, led by Neil Silcox and Jacquey Taucar.
• Online Longtables on “Curating Safe Spaces,” developed and led by the CATR Conduct Committee
• 22 virtual paper panels, working group sessions, performances, workshops, roundtables, and seminars offered during the online conference from June 10-12
• 27 in-person paper panels, working group sessions, performances, workshops, roundtables, and seminars offered during the in-person conference from June 15-17
• Live, in-person performances of Frequencies by Heist Theatre (https://www.liveheist.com/frequencies)
Though the first part of the conference is virtual, Dr. Wright and the conference theme acknowledge the importance of land. “I am very grateful,” she says, “to be able to live and work in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People that is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship,” which did not deal with surrender of lands and instead established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.”
Dr. Wright says, “I look forward to these exciting events and to welcoming people, virtually, to Antigonish and the shores of Nova Scotia. Antigonish is a Mi’kmaq name with two meanings: it means ‘the place where the branches are torn off by bears gathering beechnuts’; and it means a ‘meeting place of five forked rivers.’ Antigonish, then, is a very appropriate ‘meeting place’ for the conference as we meet to explore the many branches of theatre research and the intersections of people, places, and performances.”