"Experiments in Democracy: Performing an Interracial and Multicultural America" - ASTR conf. (11/11-11/15/09; deadline 5/15/09)

full name / name of organization: 
American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR)
contact email: 

Conveners: Cheryl Black, University of Missouri, Columbia; Jonathan Shandell, Arcadia University:
blackc@missouri.edu; shandelj@arcadia.edu

Deadline: Friday, May 15, 2009

The theme for this session comes from a 1932 Chicago Defender article describing the Hedgerow Theatre in Media, PA as "more than a theater, it is an experiment in democracy."3 The Hedgerow (under the leadership of Jasper Deeter, a white director) garnered this praise from one of America's leading African-American newspapers—by creating unique opportunities for interracial collaboration and socialization-on stage, behind the scenes, and among audiences. Their work— undertaken within an era of American history marked by entrenched racial segregation—offered to the American public a model of interracial community-building that foreshadowed greater strides toward racial integration and cooperation that the nation would realize in subsequent decades.

This Working Session will bring together scholars whose current research investigates such "experiment[s] in democracy" among progressive theatre ensembles, individual artists, theorists and audiences from any era in US theatre history. We seek participants with diverse perspectives on the American theatre's historic struggles (both its "successes" and its "failures") in modeling interracial and multicultural citizenship across all American axes of race and/or ethnicity. We are especially interested in critically examining the ways in which these practices have challenged or sustained racial apartheid and white privilege. Potential areas of inquiry might include:

* Minority-oriented theatre companies or minority artists negotiating the line between smaller racial/ethnic communities and "mainstream" visibility;
* Non-traditional/cross-racial casting practices
* Traditions of dramatizing or acting a racial or ethnic 'other'
* Integrated performances promoting the cause of integration

Conference papers should be 10-15 pages long, and will be circulated to all seminar participants prior to the conference. Participants will be asked to respond to one another's work, and also to join a broader discussion that will interrogate and help shape a more rigorous articulation of the session's theme, "Experiments in Democracy."

Proposal Submissions: Please email by Friday, May 15, 2009 a 250-word abstract and brief biography to the session's conveners. Please email the conveners at the addresses listed above with any additional questions about the session. All selected participants must become members of ASTR.

Participants should review the guidelines for Working Sessions on ASTR's website prior to submitting proposals: http://www.astr.org/Conference/WorkingSessionsGuidelines/tabid/128/Defau....