Canada, Irishness and Performance: Opening the Debate [Conference: April 15-16 2011; Proposals Due: Dec 17, 2010]

full name / name of organization: 
Irish Theatrical Diaspora project at the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama, University of Toronto
contact email: 

The history of Irish diasporas in Canada is rich and diverse, and the Irish have contributed significantly to the creation of Canadian cultural phenomena, yet the study of Irish theatre in terms of Canadian diasporic identities has not produced an equally rich body of literature.

With this scholarly lacuna in mind, this conference aims to address the scope and character of Irish influence on performance in Canada, with particular attention to the ideas of multi- and inter-culturalism. 'Performance' in this case includes theatre, dance, spectacle, and all aspects of the performing arts, as well as extra-theatrical activity – such as parades and community gatherings – that foreground 'Irishness' in some way. Canada has a well-established multicultural identity, whereas Ireland is just beginning to negotiate a civil society that is constituted by a variety of residents from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. How does Irish performance fit into the Canadian cultural 'mosaic'? Furthermore, what kinds of Irish plays are being produced in Canada, and how do these performances negotiate the relationship between Irish culture and Canadian culture? How is 'Irishness' performed in Canada, and from this, what can we learn about the mechanisms and character of cultural exchange? And finally, what is the state of academic activity concerning Irish performance and Canada?

Keynote speakers include Ann Saddlemyer (Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto), Jackie Maxwell (Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival), and Lisa Fitzpatrick (Director of Drama, University of Ulster - Derry).

Possible topics include:

- Irish theatre on Canadian stages
- Impact of Irish theatre professionals in Canada
- Irish influence on Canadian drama
- Multi-/inter-culturalism in Toronto and Irish performance
- Irishness and Canada's 'Celtic' east coast
- Performing Irish identity in Canadian society (drama and arts groups, pubs, community centres).
- St. Patrick's Day parades in Canada
- Orange Lodges and performance in Canada
- Performing the Famine in Canada

Submit: Proposals (max. 250 words) along with a brief bio and contact details.
Deadline: Friday, December 17, 2010
Contact: Please send proposals and CFP-related queries, preferably by email, to the conference organizer:

Dr. Natalie Harrower
School of English
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2, Ireland

The conference organizers welcome applications from scholars at any stage of their career, and particularly encourage graduate students to submit proposals. For more information on Irish Theatrical Diaspora personnel, conferences and publications, please visit