Religion and Theatre Focus Group Panels for the Associate of Theatre in Higher Education (Chicago, IL August 11–14, 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Megan Sanborn Jones
contact email: 

Religion and Theatre Focus Group
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference
August 11–14, 2011, Palmer House Hilton Hotel, Chicago, Illinois

Submission Deadline: Full Panels due to ATHE by November 1st

"Performance Remains, Global Presence: Memory, Legacy, and Imagined Futures"

During its first 25 years, ATHE has played a crucial role in advancing theatre and performance in higher education in North America. This year's conference pauses to celebrate ATHE's unique impact and to advance these conversations in ways that transcend national borders and disciplinary lines. As we move forward, how can we build on ATHE's strength for bringing together artists and scholars to better respond to and shape the discipline of theatre and performance?

Returning to Chicago, the site of ATHE's founding, challenges us to think about theatre's insistence on repetition and presence. Theatre necessarily exists in the present, but how does this live moment remember the past and imagine the future? How might we re-imagine the place of performance beyond boundaries of time and space, nation and discipline, practitioner and scholar? The 2011 Conference Committee invites proposals that rethink those boundaries to engage provocatively with questions of memory, legacy and possibility.

The Religion and Theatre Focus Group invites panels that address any issues arising from the conference themes of time, place of performance, border crossing, etc. or that deal with other engaging topics in religion and theatre. In addition to the traditional format of paper panels, we also welcome proposals in the form of roundtables, collaborations, staged readings, talkbacks, etc.

Proposing a Session
Please use listservs to brainstorm topics. (For R&T, send an email to For General ATHE membership, send an email to ). While these listservs (and others) are a great place to begin conversations, ultimately someone has to take the reigns and officially submit the fully organized session. This involves crafting a call for papers, sending that out, gathering submissions and choosing those you wish to include on the panel, completing the submission form, and then doing the "stage management" required before/during the conference if that panel is accepted. The submission form is already up on the ATHE website. ( When you submit, you need to send Megan Sanborn Jones a copy of the submission (, as well.

Megan is also happy to help people craft calls and to suggest listservs where those might be distributed. She will help people generate ideas or to link specific individuals of common interest together. Please keep me in the loop. But please remember that the deadline for submitting full sessions is November 1st; if you need help in organizing a session, you need to contact her well before that date so that there's time to forge connections.

Remember that panels are not just an opportunity to showcase the work of people already active in R&T, but also to bring in fresh ideas and new faces. We encourage you to distribute your CFPs widely and to think creatively about how to pull in new people for your sessions.

Multidisciplinary Panels (MDs)
This year, there is a focus on MD panels and there will be more accepted than ever. The goal of these panels is to encourage varied multidisciplinary exchanges not only in content (a session of 3 papers that has interest to multiple groups, but also in session format. Suggested multidisciplinary formats include, but are not limited to, co-authored papers, site-specific performances, presentation with response from a variety of perspectives, an interactive session that invites the audience as a participant, and more. For detailed instructions on multidisciplinary panels, see the ATHE conference site (

Organizing an MD panel may seem daunting, but it really isn't. It is an excellent way to continue conversations begun at previous conferences or to begin new ones. If you wish to organize an MD, then you need to think of what three Focus Groups (or, two Focus Groups and one ATHE Committee) your idea speaks to and then contact the Conference Planners for ALL of these groups. (The complete list of Focus Groups and their planners is available at ) You MUST email EACH of the three conference planners before submitting the session electronically by November 1st. You do not need to include people from all of those focus groups on your panel; you are simply trying to find other groups whose members would likely be interested in the topic of your MD panel. Again, please let Megan help you start a dialogue with other FG conference planners: you can ask her to help make initial contact, cc: her on correspondence, brainstorm with her before making contact, etc.

Get Started!
Now is the time to begin your own conversations, brainstorming, and calls for participants through the R&T listserv and other venues. If you have any questions or confusion, feel free to email Megan at this address ( We are looking forward to an exciting and thought-provoking conference in Chicago and hope to see you there.

Megan Sanborn Jones, R&T Conference Planner,
and the Religion and Theatre Focus Group Executive Committee
Jill Stevenson, R&T Focus Group Representative
Claire Chambers, Secretary
Vanessa Baker, Treasurer
Allan Davis, Graduate Student Representative