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New Ways of Being Together?

Gathering in Conference, Sport, and Theatre Spaces During COVID-19

Thursday, July 8, 2021 | 9:00 - 10:30

(Chair: Yana Meerzon) Tita Kyrtsakas, Abigail Shabtay, Andreea Hluscu & Charlotte Gagné-Dumais

Live panel on Zoom; spoken in English and in French. Live translation in both languages will be available in the chat. No ASL interpretation will be offered for this event. 

Join Now in Room D

Hopeful Adaptation: Digitizing a Children’s Theatre Conference in the COVID-19 Pandemic


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been some academic exploration of performances that include digital elements, such as digital projections on stage (Akay, 2018; Cameron et al., 2017). There is very little research, however, on the actual processes of digitizing theatre venues for performances and conferences in times of crisis (such as the current pandemic). With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are beginning to recognize this significant gap in the literature, as there is an urgent need to re-envision performative workshops and conferences for digital settings. In an article by Lynne Kent, she notes that the pandemic has “given rise to an increase in the use of digital platforms, such as Zoom, Twitch, Facebook Live and other online sites, for live performance in an obvious need to create and connect in large groups in a safe way” (2020, p. 158). In light of this, our paper will explore the sustainability of academic models of presenting interactive children’s theatre workshops and sessions in the conference setting. The presenters will discuss their process of re-envisioning the annual Children, Youth, And Performance Conference (a collaboration between York University and the Young People’s Theatre) for pandemic times. In past years, this conference consisted of interactive workshops, live performances, roundtable discussions, research panels, and specialized case studies. With an urgent need to move to an online setting, we plan to speak on how traditional performance and presentation are still sustainable in the epidemic through adjustment, and what transferable skills enable educators, artists, and researchers, focusing on children’s performance to share their work.


Tita Kyrtsakas is a second year PhD student in English Literature at York University. She is a trained teacher who researches representations of care and sexual content in Young Adult fiction and theatre. In 2019, Tita received the Ada Slaight Award in Drama from Young People’s Theatre. She is editor-in-chief of Feminist Space Camp Magazine and is also a creative writer with publications in Sandpiper Journal, Type/Cast Magazine, and Shameless Magazine.

Dr. Abigail Shabtay is an Assistant Professor in the Children, Childhood, and Youth program at York University. Dr. Shabtay’s research focuses on drama-based research, children’s rights, child-centred methodologies, youth activism, and children’s theatre. She is currently the Principal investigator for multiple SSHRC-funded projects related to children, youth, and the performing arts. She has served on organizing committees for six national academic conferences in her field and is the primary organizer and conference chair for this year’s Children, Youth and Performance Conference in partnership with the Toronto Young People’s Theatre.

The Empty Stadium, The Empty Spectacle: Broadcasted Technological Imaginaries in Sport During COVID-19


Contemporary experiences of sports for viewers at home have almost exclusively been mediated through technology and media: the development of stadiums, the introduction of technology within the stadium/arena, and the heightened multi-sensorial spectacle all work to create a sensory experience that brings the viewer at home closer to the experience of the physical spectator in the stadium. COVID-19 has radically transformed the way sports are experienced and broadcasted, but perhaps the most significant shift in the sporting landscape has been the removal of the physical fan from the stadium. This offers an opportunity to re-examine the relationship of spectatorship in sport, as well as explore the ways in which this new televisual infrastructure is mediating the viewing experience in an empty stadium.

This paper examines three case studies in Major League Soccer (MLS), The Canadian Premier League (CPL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA). I borrow Patrice Flichy’s technological imaginary (imaginaire), and extend the term to consider the ways in which television broadcasters have worked to solve the issue of the empty stadium. I will question what the performative implications of these imaginaries mean for sport and spectatorship, and will attempt to locate the real in these new realities.


Andreea Hluscu is a first year PhD student in Communication and Culture at York University. Her research interests include sport and sport media, performance studies, spectatorship, and pop culture. Her creative work has been published and featured in Type/Cast Magazine, Huffington Post, and the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Towards the Dissolution of an Essentialist Division: Video Recording and Intermedial Acting as Necessary Tools for the Dissemination of Theatre

Charlotte Gagné-Dumais, University of Montreal, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

With the conditions generated by the current crisis, the theatre milieu is subject to a need for renewal. To compensate for the cancellation of theatrical performances, some institutions have chosen to make recordings of their productions available online, often free of charge and for a limited time. This was the case for prestigious theatres such as the Globe and the National Theatre in London which, during the lockdown of the first wave, made weekly uploads of their productions to YouTube. In the current context, the practice is becoming more and more widespread, including in Quebec.

However, video recordings blur media, ontological and essentialist boundaries between theatre and cinema: is filmed theatre still theatre? Through an intermedial approach, it is possible to analyze the dynamics that are woven between theatre and cinema, and not see it as the dissolution of one art into another, but instead as the construction of a different form of mediation. These dynamics revolve around a key figure in theatrical creation: that of the actor. More than ever, an intermedial approach to acting becomes necessary in order to abandon certain essentialist conditions of acting and discover new possibilities; the intermedial actor must learn to work simultaneously with several types of mediation. Video recording and intermedial acting are therefore presented as essential tools with which creators must familiarize themselves for the development of their art, especially in a context where theatres are closed or with reduced capacity.

Preliminary bibliography:

Auslander, Philip. 2008. “Live Performance in a Mediatized Culture”. In Liveness. Performance in a Mediatized Culture, p. 10-60. New York: Routledge.

Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin. 1999. "Theory". In Remediation: Understanding New Media, p. 16-50. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Bolter. Jay David. 2005. “Transference and Transparency: Digital Technology and the Remediation of Cinema”. Intermédialités, nº 6 (autumn), p. 13-26.

Gaudreault, André and Philippe Marion. 2012. " Du filmage au tournage : débrayer l’effet-archives de l’enregistrement cinématographique". Cinémas, vol. 23 nº1, p. 93–111.

Hornby, Richard. 2011. “National Theater Live”. The Hudson Review, vol. 64 nº1 (spring), p.196-202.

Martel, Richard. 2010. “ Tenir compte du contexte : le performatif”. Inter, nº 105, p. 4–5.

Ouaknine, Serge. 1987. “Le réel théâtral et le réel médiatique”. Game, nº 44, p. 93–111.

Pluta, Izabella. 2011. L’acteur et l’intermédialité, les nouveaux enjeux pour l’interprète et la scène à l’ère technologique. Lausanne: L’âge d’Homme.

Charlotte Gagné-Dumais is a director and doctoral student (University of Montreal). After studying cinema, she is now studying contemporary theatre from an intermedial perspective. In her research as in her artistic practice, Charlotte investigates both stage and filmic presence of performers. In 2015, she founded with Laurence Clavet a creative feminist company, Théâtre des Trompes. She is artistic director and has directed several projects, including Le Cycle de la Roche, a work on the works of Hervé Bouchard. She loves rap.