Headshot for Harvey Young, a black man in a sweater smiling and standing in front of a blue background.

Keynote Lecture

Harvey Young (Boston University)

Live keynote on Zoom; spoken in English. Live ASL interpretation will be offered for this event. During the Q & A portion of the keynote, live translation from English to French will be available in the chat.

  • Chair: Yana Meerzon

& Ann Saddlemyer Award (CATR)

  • Presented by Ric Knowles

Thursday, June 10, 2021 | 11:00 - 13:00


Join Now in Room A

Download the access paper by clicking here.

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.