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Organized by

the Department of Theatre, University of Ottawa and

the Carleton Centre for Public History, Carleton University

19-21 April 2012, University of Ottawa,

Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)


“History – the past transformed into words or paint or dance or play – is always a performance” (Greg Dening, “Performing on the Beaches of the Mind: An Essay”).

In the context of Paul Ricoeur’s work on the conjunctions of history, memory, and the production of narrative (La Mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli, 2000), and heeding the invitation of Hayden White (and others) to re-think traditional understandings of historical writing and interpretation, historians such as Greg Dening have argued that historical representation, in whatever form it takes, is a performative act. At the same time, theatre scholars such as Freddie Rokem have explored the relationship between theatrical energies and performing history on stage. At the intersection of such work is the idea that theatre itself becomes a witness to history being made, a notion present in the concept of memory and the processes of remembering and forgetting. This international, interdisciplinary conference explores themes relating to history, memory and performance. We hope it will generate discussions about how historical
meaning is created in the theatre and how theatrical performances shape our understanding of the past, including:

Museums, museality, and performance
Staging historical events and cataclysms
Theatre of (auto)biography and testimony
History plays, history, and historiography
Original practices, heritage, and innovation
The canon, the archive, and the repertoire
The body and space as sites of memory
History, new media, and performance
(Post)memory and (post)trauma
Memory theatre and resonant spaces
Theatre as / and memorial
Storytelling, memory, and performance

This three-day conference will feature keynote speakers including Professor Freddie Rokem (Tel-Aviv University), plenary paper sessions, working groups (theory-based), workshops (practice-based), and performance events.


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