Keynote Speakers

Headshot for Harvey Young, a black man in a sweater smiling and standing in front of a blue background
Harvey Young, a black man in a sweater smiles at the camera

Harvey Young

Boston University

June 10th @ 11:00

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Crises of the Live

For centuries, the power and majesty of theatre have been attributed to its liveness: the thrill of seeing an actor physically onstage, the experience of sitting shoulder to shoulder with other attendees; the knowledge that no two performances could ever be exactly alike. The current global pandemic has raised questions about the future viability of theatre. Is theatre—as so many people have questioned over the past two centuries (with the advent of film, radio, television)—a moribund anachronism? In this keynote, Harvey Young spotlights how theatre not only has survived but, surprisingly, has thrived (despite adverse conditions) by embracing recording technologies as well as minimalist staging practices. Young argues that it is the idea of the live and not the material conditions of liveness that gives and has always given theatre its particular resonance as well as its ability to withstand the global health crisis.

Harvey Young is Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, where he is also Professor of English and Theatre. His research on the performance and experience of race has been widely published in academic journals, profiled in the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education. As a commentator on popular culture, he has appeared on CNN, 20/20, and Good Morning America as well as within the pages of the New York Times, Vanity Fair and People. He has published seven books, including Embodying Black Experience, winner of "Book of the Year" awards from the National Communication Association and the American Society for Theatre Research. His forthcoming edited collection (with Megan Geigner) Theatre After Empire will be published in 2021.
Headshot for Sylvie Chalaye a white woman speaking into a microcpone in front of a dark background
Sylvie Chalaye, a white woman in glasses, speaks into a microphone.

Sylvie Chalaye

l’Université Sorbonne Nouvelle

June 25th @ 11:00

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Becoming Maroon, a Model of Salvation for Theatre Creation

Despite the prohibitions and coercive order of plantations, slaves deployed a Maroon gesture of resistance and emancipation through performance. What do such subversive acts mean today in 2021? A creative stance for Afro-contemporary playwrights like Kossi Efoui, Koffi Kwahulé, Suzan-Lori Parks or artists like Basquiat; a Maroon stance of resistance that consists of adapting, of constantly reinventing oneself, of never being where you are expected, to change state and in the end to dissemble in the heart of the forest of the world to better play against the established order, institutions and colonial legacies. Ultimately, the current crisis could well invite us to consider Maroon gestures that, since jazz, inspire Afro-descendant creation as a model of salvation for theatre creation to come.

A specialist in African and diaspora dramaturgies, Sylvie Chalaye is also a historian and anthropologist of African performance and Black performing arts throughout the world. A professor and research director at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, she co-directs the Institut de Recherche en Études Théâtrales (Institute for Research in Theatre Studies) and created the SeFeA (Scènes francophones et écritures de l’altérité) laboratory, which examines otherness in francophone plays and literature. Her latest work, Race et théâtre : un impensé politique, was published by Actes Sud-Papiers and received the André Malraux prize in 2020.
Kevin Loring, an indigenous man in a blue shirt and jacket stares intensely into the camera
Kevin Loring, an indigenous man in a blue shirt and jacket.

Kevin Loring

Indigenous Theatre, NAC

July 8th @ 11:00

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Re-turning the Page: How theatre practice must bravely return into a post-pandemic, de-colonial, anti-racist world

My keynote will speak about the importance of the theatre as an essential component of discourse and reflection about the society in which we live, and also how theatre practices must also reflect our new social realities. I will address the importance of theatres to be diligent in their efforts to dismantle systems of oppression within their organizations and the sector broadly in relation to racism and to settler colonialism. And as we begin to re-emerge out of isolation back into community, I will speak about the need to return to the communities theatres serve, rather than relying on those communities to return to the theatre.

Kevin is N'lakap’amux from the Lytton First Nation in British Columbia. He is an accomplished Actor, Playwright, Director and founding Artistic Director of Savage Society, a non-profit charity dedicated to telling Indigenous stories. He is currently the Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre of Canada.

A versatile artist and leader Loring has served as the co-curator of the Talking Stick Festival, as Artist in Residence at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, as Artistic Director of the Savage Society in Vancouver, as a Documentary Producer/Writer and co-host of Canyon War: The Untold Story, and as the Project Leader/Creator, and Director of the Songs of the Land project in his home community of Lytton First Nation. Loring created the Songs of the Land project in 2012 in partnership with five separate community organizations.

The project explores 100-year-old audio recordings and the creation stories of the N’lakap’amux. Loring has written several new plays based on this work with an ensemble of professional Indigenous Artists and community members, these include: Battle of the Birds, about domestic violence and power abuse, The Council of Spider Ant and Fly about the introduction of death into the universe, and The Boy Who Was Abandoned, about youth abandonment and elder neglect.

Kevin has a long history at the National Arts Centre. As well as performing in numerous productions there he was a company member of the National Arts Centre English Theatre Acting Company and was the Playwright in Residence there in 2010.

Kevin is the recipient of many awards and accolades, most notably the 2009 Governor General's Literary Award for his play Where the Blood Mixes, and a Governor General's Performing Arts Mentorship Award, and he was a GG Literary Award finalist for his play Thanks for Giving in 2018.