Partition/Ensemble: CATR/SQET 2020 – Call for Organisers

Posted by | October 10, 2019 | Uncategorized

From May 25th to 28th, 2020, the Canadian Association for Theatre Research and the Société quebécoise d’études théâtrales will hold a joint, bilingual conference on the theme Partition/Ensemble. Under this banner, we will discuss modes of scenic composition and creative processes (partition in French) and of intellectual and artistic traditions – both shared (“ensemble”) and distinct (‘partition’ in English) – in Canada. To be held in Montreal at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Concordia University, this conference invites us to traverse the city.

The theme of the 2020 conference already embodies such a gesture. In French, the first definition of partition refers to a system of notation that brings together many notes in order to produce a musical composition (a “score”). While the idea of a score and scoring is central to contemporary, non-text-based creative practice in English too, “partition” in the language of Shakespeare refers first and foremost an act of separation, the state of being parted, or a dividing object. On the other hand, the French-language and English-language meanings of “ensemble” overlap more significantly. In each, ensemble means “together” and also refers to a “set” or “unity” of things that go together, as well as having a shared meaning in the performing arts: a group of artists who perform together. In taking up both these ideas of collective sharing and of division or enclosure, “Partition/Ensemble” gestures toward a constellation of meanings that conjugate diversely yet resonate strongly in English and in French. Our 2020 conference serves as an occasion to unpack the notions of “partition” and “ensemble” in the performing arts in all their aesthetic and political senses. These two major through-lines of the conference need not be conceptualised as entirely separate, but rather as concomitant: for instance, creative practices always enact a micro-politics in which ways of being together are invented, elaborated, and negotiated; territorial and linguistic partitions (divisions) are also points of connection.

Associated with the performing arts, the words partition/score may be viewed from two angles: graphic and performative. Their graphic element lies in their reference to modes of notation and codification of a work, scores that allow for the work’s transmission; partition/score is performative when associated with a process of creation, with ways of creating a piece. In their study of “partition” in 20th and 21st century theatre, Julie Sermon and Yvane Chapuis write “the term partition returns us to a concrete object of mediation: it is a material support housing an ensemble of signs to be decoded and put into play according to more or less established rules and conventions” (2016).

  • How is the score a site for the invention of compositional modes that are scenic, corporeal, musical, and more within an ensemble or an artistic collective?
  • How might scores and/or the practice of scoring enable access to the creative process and transmission of the theatre piece?
  • Partition/score as an aesthetic form founded in assemblage, the fragment, gaps, tasks to execute instead of in a dramatic plot or story;
  • How do the different ‘languages’ of scoring (movement notation, light plots, dramaturgical analysis, devising practices such as Viewpoints) come together in theatre productions that cross disciplinary boundaries?
  • What kinds of aesthetic, creative, and cultural intersections do these crossings allow, constrain, and challenge?
  • How does partition/score become a means for engaging dialogue with other creators, past, present, and future, as a kind of ensemble?
  • In as much as the word also evokes division and distribution (e.g., of parts, of roles), the question of the sharing and organisation of creative work by groups of theatre artists may also be addressed.

In its primary English-language usage, “partition” might be conceived as a spatial and social element. Here, a partition is a physical divider (such as, a curtain or a room partition) or a conceptual one, such as an ideological border. In this sense, “partition” conjures geopolitical rupture and social dissensus. This aspect of partition highlights ruptures caused by Canadian settler-colonialism with Indigenous territories, ways of knowing and of being together – a rupture that inflects the social-spatial configuration of our 2020 host city of Montreal and that is overlaid by a second partitioning along linguistic lines. Partition holds deeply theatrical meanings, as much performance practice is founded in social and spatial divides of one kind or another — backstage and onstage, audience and performer. And yet, as the theatrical example shows, the space of partition is also a space of jointure or connection; just as a border divides lands, so too does it connect them. We might ask:

  • What territories do CATR and SQET share/divide/distribute [se partager]?
  • We might pose this question about our disciplinary positionings: theatre studies, performance studies, indigenous studies, and other disciplines.
  • What divisions and distributions of shares (parts) are possible in plurilingual colonial, postcolonial and decolonial spaces like the island of Montréal?

We welcome a range of research subjects and approaches. We encourage proposals engaging with the conference theme, but proposals that depart from the theme will also be considered.

All accepted presenters and participants are required to join either CATR or SQET, or to become dual-members at a special discounted rate. For more information on CATR and SQET, and to join or renew your membership, visit: and


A separate call for open papers will be circulated at the beginning of November. All proposals should be sent to the programming committee at

Proposals in English or in French are invited from prospective organisers for curated paper panels on any topic related to theatre and performance, Canadian or international in scope, and including praxis. Prospective organisers are asked to submit a 300-word proposal along with a 300-word call for participants. Proposals should include the title of the panel, a scholarly rationale, and a brief description of how the panel will be structured. The call for participants should specify the title and focus of the panel along with a short list of potential topics or perspectives, a brief description of what will be required of panelists, and contact information.

Call for Curated Panels: due 4 November 2019 – EXTENDED TO 8 NOVEMBER!

Proposals are invited from prospective organisers of curated panels, which are a pre-set collection of scholarly oral papers addressing a common theme or question, preferably engaging the conference theme. Panels are normally 90 minutes and normally feature 3 speakers.

The conference planning committee is accepting proposals that include the name and bio of the proposer, panel title, and scholarly rationale, as well as the names and bios of the featured speakers and the abstracts for their papers.

Call for Seminars and Roundtables: due 4 November 2019

Proposals are invited from prospective organisers for seminars and roundtables on any topic related to theatre and performance, Canadian or international in scope, and including praxis, preferably engaging with the conference theme, but not exclusive to it. Prospective organisers are asked to submit a 300-word proposal along with a 300-word call for participants. Proposals should include the title of the session, a scholarly rationale, along with a description of structure and proposed length. The call for participants should specify the title and focus of the session, a list of issues and goals, a description of work required, due dates, and contact information. Seminars will be scheduled for three hours and roundtables for ninety minutes.

Ways of engaging seminar and roundtable participants might include:

  • Exchange of papers prior to the session.
  • Organise respondents for clusters of papers in preparation for online discussion or conference sessions
  • Editing of pre- or post-conference papers among session participants.
  • A reading list related to the topic and participants’ work in preparation for discussion at the conference
  • Email discussion of the general issues related to the topic and an arrangement of procedures for the session
  • Grouping of participants and designation of discussion topics for breakout groups during the session

Participants are not to read or provide lengthy oral summaries of their papers during the session. All seminars and round-tables are open to auditors.

Call for Workshops / Demonstrations / Research-creation: due 4 November 2019

Praxis sessions represent the intersection of scholarly inquiry and creative practice and offer a forum for scholar-practitioners to introduce conference attendees to their artistic research activities. Sessions may take the form of participatory workshops, interactive presentations, or contextualized performances, and may be targeted to participants with specialized preparation/training or to general audiences.

Prospective organisers are asked to submit a 250-word proposal and a 250-word call for participants. Proposals should include the title of the session and a rationale that reflects a clear artistic research framework, along with a description of the proposed structure for a 90-minute session. Please indicate the space and/or equipment needs, the maximum number of participants, and whether auditors (nonparticipant observers) are welcome.

Possible approaches to the praxis workshops and performances might include:

  • Workshops on technique or process.
  • Presentations of and discussions about praxis-based research.
  • Presentations of performance works-in-progress and group critique/feedback.
  • Performance interventions in conference spaces.

Call for Working Groups: due 4 November 2019

Proposals are invited from prospective working group leaders for two- to three-year-long working groups related to theatre, performance, dance, and drama that is Canadian or international in scope. A working group enables CATR members to meet in a CATR conference timeslot of at least 2 hours to discuss a subject or to enable a project that requires more than the one-year afforded by a seminar slot. Because the subject or project of the working group should be of benefit not only to its members but also to the broad CATR membership, a portion of the conference timeslot should be dedicated to a presentation of findings/results open to all conference participants.

A working group should consist of at least 5 CATR members at any given time with one designated as the working group leader. It is highly recommended that all working group participants attend the Conference. If this is not possible, at least five working group participants must plan to participate in the year-long discussions and attend the Conference. All working group participants must pay the CATR membership to participate in a working group. After three years the working group must wait one year before reapplying, if desired.

Prospective leaders are asked to submit a 250-word proposal and a 250-word call for participants. Proposals should include the name of the working group leader, the working group title, scholarly or disciplinary rationale, a description of the structure and timeline of the project over its proposed duration, a description of how the conference session time will be used, the desired outcomes of the project (e.g. publications and/or other forms of dissemination, new disciplinary processes, archived materials, etc.), and the anticipated number of working group participants extant (with names and affiliations) and sought.

Note that while working group proposals are to be sent to the Conference Program Chair (as above), unlike proposals for other curated sessions, they will be forwarded to, and evaluated by the CATR Board of Directors. This will enable the board to preserve continuity of their objectives beyond a single conference.

Nicole Nolette (University of Waterloo)

Sylvain Lavoie (Concordia University)

Co-Chairs – Conference Programming Committee

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