[UPDATE] Chicago Theatre Symposium May 18-22, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Columbia College Chicago
contact email: 


CHICAGO (August 10, 2010) – The Theatre Department of Columbia College Chicago will host a gathering of scholars and theatre artists from around the world to explore the history of Chicago theatre over the last half-century and the future of Chicago as a leading center of international theatre. Titled Chicago--Theatre Capital of America: Past. Present. Future, and scheduled for May 18-22, 2011, the event will focus on Chicago's rise as a center of theatrical creativity, innovation, and influence over the past 50 years and explore the future of theatre in an atmosphere of rapidly increasing technological development and global communication. A wide range of presentations, panels, workshops, and performances will highlight the event. A Call for Papers -- attached and pasted in below -- has been issued inviting theatre scholars and practitioners to propose presentations on a wide range of topics. The deadline for proposals has been extended to OCTOBER 1. Emerging scholars are especially encouraged to participate. In addition, a lineup of distinguished featured speakers is being assembled. Featured speakers confirmed so far include Richard Christiansen, author of A Theater of Our Own: A History and a Memoir of 1,001 Nights in Chicago; Martha Lavey, artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre and board president of the Theatre Communications Group; Todd London, artistic director of New Dramatists and co-author of Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of The New American Play; Lisa Portes, head of DePaul University's MFA directing program; Harvey Young, director of Northwestern University's interdisciplinary doctoral program in theatre and drama and author of Embodying Black Experience: Stillness, Critical Memory, and the Black Body; and British theatre critic Michael Billington of The Guardian. In a 2004 article in The Guardian, Billington wrote:

"For the poet Carl Sandburg it was the 'City of the Big Shoulders.' Architect Daniel Burnham called it 'the Paris of the Prairies.' That mix of raw energy and refined aestheticism makes Chicago one of the world's great cities--and the current theatre capital of America."

Online registration for the symposium will be posted in mid-September at www.colum.edu/theatresymposium. Early registration costs $95, or $60 for students.

Deadline for submissions: October 1, 2010 E-mail proposals to: chitheatresymposium@colum.edu.
The organizing committee invites 300-word abstracts (including up to 10 low res images or up to 2 minutes video where relevant) addressing the history, current state, and/or future of professional theatre in Chicago. Each proposal will be peer reviewed by a committee consisting of professors from Columbia College and professional theatre artists in Chicago.

The symposium organizers are seeking proposals for papers and panels on key themes regarding the development of Chicago theatre over the past half-century--including, but not limited to:

* How Chicago's cultural atmosphere, political history, and social geography have shaped the development of Chicago theatre from a grass-roots movement into a global phenomenon.

*Improvisation and literary adaptation, the twin pillars of Chicago theatrical storytelling; the role of improv and theater games in shaping the ensemble nature of Chicago theatre. *Chicago
playwrights past and present; varying approaches to the development of new work.

*Theatre focused on specific racial, ethnic, and cultural communities -- African-American theatre, Latino theatre, Asian-American theatre, Arab-American theatre, women's theatre, queer theatre, etc. How do the race, class, and sociocultural dynamics in Chicago affect Chicago theatre, and how can theatre influence and transcend these dynamics?

*Naturalism and fantasy/spectacle: competing and complementary styles in Chicago theatre.

*Fringe and experimental theatre and performance in Chicago; original work and productive failure.

*The relationship between large institutional theaters and storefront theaters in Chicago.

*The impact of Chicago theatre artists on regional nonprofit theatre, film and TV, Broadway, and international theatre.

*The current state of and prognosis for serious, in-depth theatre criticism; the absence of theatre and arts critics of color in Chicago and nationally.

*The role of universities, colleges, training centers, and teachers in shaping and continuously revitalizing Chicago's position as a theatre capital.

*Technology, communication, and globalization; virtual reality vs. the live immediacy of theatre.

*Theater as public space; fostering community; sustainable innovation; theater in the media age; social networking.

*How arts education in schools and communities has nurtured theatre in the past half-century, and the prognosis for the future of arts education.

*How can Chicago theatre facilitate true, deep interaction between artists and audiences of diverse backgrounds rather than settling for token representations? Can Chicago lead the way toward the creation of an American theatre that truly reflects the nation's diversity?

*Where is the next generation of leaders in the arts -- artists, administrators, teachers, critics, scholars -- coming from? Are theatre makers swimming against the cultural tide?

Proposals should include the following items:
1. Your name, title, status (e.g., artist, faculty, independent scholar, management, student) and academic and/or professional affiliation (if applicable).
2. Your contact information (particularly e-mail).
3. The title and abstract for your paper, panel, workshop, master class. Please limit abstracts to 300 words. Proposals for panels of two or more scholars and for workshops and master classes with multiple leaders are welcome. Please include the above information for each participant.
4. The technical requirements of your presentation.

In your e-mail, please write "Chicago Theatre Symposium" in the subject heading and in the body of the message include the title of the proposal, your name, address, telephone, email address and affiliation (if applicable). Receipt of your submission will be confirmed via email and you will be informed of the committee's decisions by November 15, 2010.

Proposals from emerging scholars and artists and attendance by graduate students are particularly encouraged.

Chicago--Theatre Capital of America: Past. Present. Future is believed to be the first undertaking of its kind, offering scholars, historians, critics, students, and practicing professionals a chance to share their intimate, often personal knowledge of Chicago's theatrical past with visions for the future. Columbia will partner with city agencies, cultural and philanthropic organizations, and other institutions of higher learning in the area, including the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Public Library, the League of Chicago Theatres, and the Dramatists Guild of America.

For more information, visit http://www.colum.edu/theatresymposium or contact Albert Williams, senior lecturer, Columbia College Theatre Department, at 312-369-6141 or awilliams@colum.edu. Dr. John Green, chair of the Columbia College Theatre Department, can be reached at 312-369-6160, jgreen@colum.edu.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to more than 12,000 students in over 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu .