THEATRE TOPICS 32.2 CFP: Attendance

The editors of Theatre Topics announce a topic for the spring 2022 special issue: Attendance. After a year and a half of suspended seasons, zoomed classes, and distanced interactions, the end of the pandemic holds out the hope that we might experience events together again, breathing the same air. But to what extent is post-COVID attendance a return to “normal”? How has the long quarantine and its attendant crises forced us to re-imagine what attendance means? We invite submissions on these and other questions for the July 2022 print and online issues. The deadline for PRINT submissions is October 18, 2020. The deadline for ONLINE submissions is 15 December 2020. Early submissions are encouraged.

We offer the attendance as a jumping-off point for any of several avenues of inquiry:

Attendance is showing up in person. As teachers and as producers, how ought we solicit, register, and evaluate attendance?  After semesters of blank zoom boxes, invisible audiences, and virtual backgrounds, how do we navigate a return to the “all or nothing” of physical co-presence in classes and theatres? How have our expectations for attendance shifted? For months, we inured ourselves to overstrained coping mechanisms, often celebrating “just getting by” as enough. How now might teachers and artists invite, sustain, or insist on modes of engagement beyond merely showing up? How might post-COVID theatres and classrooms change to enable the full participation of those who have found attendance difficult or impossible? How can we welcome new attendees to classrooms and auditoriums? What, on the other hand, do we do if attendance does not recover?  How might we as theatre-makers show up to make art in a new physical and emotional landscape?

Attendance is paying attention to or focusing carefully on. 2020-2021 riveted attention on realities too long overlooked or accepted, such as the lethal effects of systemic racism, the rising tide of authoritarian populisms, and the polarizing consequences of media disinformation. In theatre, bold voices from marginalized communities called the field to confront harmful parts of our culture like racist show selection and casting, disability-hostile physical and operational structures, and tolerance of abusive personalities and production practices. This work continues. A crowd of utterly vital issues now compete for our attention. As the professional and educational theatres transition back into “business as usual” amidst existential questions of institutional survival, how do we keep attending to the ever-growing list of pressing matters effectively? Given the limits of human and institutional attention and energy, how do we make decisions about focus and priority? What deserves full attention now? What issues have absorbed more than their fair share of attention in the past? What ideas remain attention-starved?

Attendance is waiting on or being in service alongside Whom or what do we serve as artists, scholars, and teachers? Why do we do what we do? Have the experiences of 2020-2021 changed our aims and values? Do our ideals (or our rhetoric) align with our practices? What prevents us from fully embracing our ideals and values? What obstacles get in the way of service?  How do we realize, interrogate, and communicate that service? What values and ultimate concerns might we embrace that could guide us through immediate pressures of profit and scarcity? What coalitions or partnerships might we forge between theatre and other endeavors in pursuit of these values?

We invite submissions for pieces about these and other question in any of three formats: (1) Original Articles, limit 6,000 words, are formal pieces of scholarship that undergo peer review; (2) Notes from the Field, limit 4,000 words, are carefully considered and critically informed personal reflections, interviews, or from-the-trenches accounts; (3) Online Articles, limit 4,000 words, are multimedia-enabled pieces that share and reflect on production, pedagogy, and/or research. For information about these options as well as instructions for submission, visit our website:  https://www.jhuptheatre.org/theatre-topics/author-guidelines

 

Additionally, free to contact the editors with any questions or inquiries:

 

John Fletcher, Editor, Theatre Topics at drjohnfletcher@gmail.com

Shannon Walsh, Online Editor, Theatre Topics, at swalsh@lsu.edu

Theatre Topics is an official publication of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).