Call for Proposals: “Ethics & Socially Engaged Theatre”

Call for Proposals

Canadian Theatre Review Issue #192

“Ethics & Socially Engaged Theatre”


Taiwo Afolabi (University of Regina) & Yasmine Kandil (University of Victoria)

This issue will focus mainly on the interplay between our intellectual understanding of ethics and the practice of ethics in socially engaged theatre. Between those two ends of the spectrum will fall our querying of the ethics of engagement, representation, ownership, and aesthetics in theatre that involves stories and narratives whose goals are driven by a social justice agenda.

Applied theatre is the umbrella term for theatre that focuses on a wide range of practices that share a desire to provoke or shape social change. It is theatre that is created for, with, and many times by people; sometimes with the help of experts to address issues pertinent to communities. With such a high and intimate level of community engagement comes ethical challenges. These challenges live in the areas we outline above: engagement, representation, ownership, and aesthetics.  While there have been significant conversations around ethics in applied theatre globally (Etherton & Munier; Fisher; Gallagher et al; Hughes; Hughes and Nicholson; Kerr; Preston; Thompson), the conversations around ethics and applied theatre in a Canadian context could be better mobilized to reflect the tensions that exist between an intellectual academic understanding of ethics and how that gets translated into practice.

We feel that the gap widens even more when scholars are attempting to work with research initiatives that focus on topics connected with racialized communities. Grant applications, project goals and outlines often use the terms ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusivity,’ ‘decolonizing’ and ‘Indigenous resurgence’ but without a thorough understanding of what constitutes an EDI (Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion) or Indigenous lens to doing research, and what inclusive or decolonizing research practices look like outside of our intellectual understanding of them. Problems start to arise for non-racialized researchers partnering with racialized communities as the team attempts to work through protocols and research-based practices that are guided by colonial research structures and ethics protocols.

In this issue of Canadian Theatre Review, we ask:

  • How are artists and practitioners considering the subject of ethics in their work as they engage with communities?
  • How do artists and practitioners ethically navigate and negotiate power relations in our respective co-creative spaces, especially where there are multiple shifting approaches, expectations and understandings of using theatre as a tool for social change?
  • What are the ethical tensions practitioners encounter in their socially engaged theatre practices and what are the practical ways they address these tensions?

We invite submissions by authors and practitioners who are able to reflect on how researchers, artists, communities and practitioners use and negotiate the ethics of any one of these areas: engagement, representation, ownership, and aesthetics in socially engaged theatre initiatives.

Each article can range from 2000 to 2500 words based on your request and confirmation from the co-editors (interviews are also welcome).  There will be an honorarium for contributors (amount to be determined).  If interested, please send in an abstract of no more than 350 words, with a 200 word bio (due September 1st 2021).  Email: or

Finally, one of the goals of this Special Issue is to create space for practitioners to reflect on their practice. Considering that writing can be a daunting task, as editors of this volume, we would like to work with practitioners who are interested in writing about their practice but who are unable to due to the exclusionary nature of academic research/writing. Should you have an idea you would like to write about, and feel you would like the support of the editors to bring it to fruition, we would be happy to provide you with the necessary support for your work to be included in this issue.


September 1st              Abstract & bio due

September 15th            Results communicated with contributors (accept/reject)

December 1st              First draft due

January 1st                   Draft returned to contributors for revisions

February 15th              Second draft due

List of Works Cited

Etherton, Michael and Asef Munier. “Child Rights Theatre for Development in Rural Bangladesh: A Case Study.” Research in Drama Education, vol. 11, no. 2, 2006, pp. 175-183.

Fisher, Amanda Stuart. “Developing an Ethics of Practice in Applied Theatre: Badiou and Fidelity to the Truth of the Event.” Research in Drama Education, vol. 10, no. 2, 2005, pp. 247-252.

Hughes, Jenny. “Ethical Cleansing? The Process of Gaining ‘Ethical Approval’ for a New Research Project Exploring Performance in Place of War.” Research in Drama Education, vol. 10, no. 2, 2005, pp. 229-232.

Hughes, Jenny and Helen Nicholson, editors. Critical Perspectives on Applied Theatre. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Kerr, David. “Ethics of Applied Theatre.” South African Theatre Journal, vol. 23, 2011, pp. 177-187.

Preston, Sheila. “Introduction to Ethics of Representation.” The Applied Theatre Reader, edited by Tim Prentki and Sheila Preston, Routledge, 2009.

Thompson, James. Applied Theatre: Bewilderment & Beyond. Peter Lang Publishers, 2003.

Posted by Dospel & GanjaParker