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Past Working Groups


History of the Mozambican Public with Mário M. da Fonseca

February 16, 2023 1:30-3:00pm EST

Mário M. da Fonseca presented "History of the Mozambican public: a contribution to understand post-colonial audiences." He discussed the epistemological and methodological options on how history of audience and the public could contribute to understand post-colonial audiences.


Practical Spectating with Dr. Elizabeth Swift

February 2nd, 2023 2-3:30pm EST

In this group workshop, Dr. Elizabeth Swift presented and workshopped her book proposal "Practical Spectating - Engaging [with] theatre in a post-audience era." She explored how contemporary immersive performance is dislodging the familiar hierarchical relationship between performance
and spectator.


Working Group with Dr. Sarah Hoover

December 8th 2022, 2:30-3:30pm ET

This discussion sought to explore the potentials and pitfalls of integrating two methodologies to develop research projects in which the audience’s effort is recognized as citizen-research and the results are recognized as artistic contributions.


Audience Research in Politically/Socially-Engaged Theatre in Kolkata with Munia Debleen Tripathi

November 24 2022, 2-3:30pm ET

Within this discussion, Munia Debleen Tripathi explored their research, specifically highlighting a pattern of anxiousness within spectators that they require "qualifications" to discuss and understand Kolkata theatre. Tripathi discussed the implications of these feelings in connection with the Kolkata theatre.


Let's Talk Ethics

October 20th 2022, 2-3:30pm ET

This working group discussed all things ethics, including institutional research ethics boards, policy statements, processes, challenges and opportunities.


Working Group with Dr. Steven Hadley

March 11 2022, 2-3:30pm EST

The session focused on Dr. Hadley's new book Audience Development and Cultural Policy, published by Palgrave MacMillan which explores the relationship between audiences and the arts in relation to cutural policy and the arts market.


Nothing New Under the Sun with Dr. Cecilia Livingston

November 26th 2021, 1pm

She shared her chapter-in-progress, forthcoming in The Cambridge Companion to Composition, in which she uses Linda Hutcheon's Theory of Adaptation (2006, rev. 2013) as a framework for considering how composers approach adaptation into musical forms.


Working Group with Dr. Signy Lynch

November 26th 2021, 2:30-4pm EST

Having recently defended her PhD dissertation, Dr. Lynch discussed her ideas around direct-address in theatre, in which performers 'directly address' the audience. Specifically, she considered relationality and epistemological encounter in performer-audience relations.


Working Group with Dr. Nina Penner

October 22nd 2021, 12-2pm EST

Dr. Penner discussed her new project “Exploring IBPOC Experiences in Opera in Canada,” a mixed methods project conceived in partnership with Amplified Opera in Toronto that seeks to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion in the opera industry. As this was her first foray into empirical methods, she discussed the motivations, challenges, and things she learned along the way.


Audiences in the Archive

March 22 2021, 1:30-3pm EDT

The working group session was an in-depth conversation of finding audiences in the records, remnants and memories of past performances.


Tandem Dances with Julia M. Ritter

November 16th 2020, 12:30-2:30 EST

In this working group, we celebrated the publication of Julia Ritter's new book Tandem Dances: Choreographing Immersive Performance. The book proposes that choreography is critical to immersive productions in that it serves as a crucial mechanism by which the spectator's role is transformed into that of an active participant within the production, namely, a subject of choreography enacting an improvisational score.


Spectatorial Interruption at the ASTR Conference

November 5th-8th 2020

The goal for this session was to facilitate a spirited discussion about how current empirical findings in audience research could help us reimagine ongoing conversations in spectatorship studies and theatre theory writ large.


The Critic as Audience Member with Signy Lynch and Michelle MacArthur

October 26th 2020, 12:30-2:30pm EST

This working group focused on "bug" by Yolanda Bonnell’s controversial request that reviews for the Toronto production of her show bug be written only by Indigenous, Black, or critics of Colour (IBPOC). This articulated a shared feeling among many IBPOC artists in Canada and abroad that members of the largely white mainstream critical establishment are often ill-equipped to write about their work.


Working Group with Jenny Salisbury

February 14 2020, 2-4pm

For the working group, Jenny offered her current case study of performance within the Toronto Jewish Diaspora, considering the 2015 play "A Simple Twist of Faith" by Evan and Rafe Malach.


Working Group with Melanie Wilmink

January 24 2020, 2-4pm

The academic research was supported by her curatorial work including various projects as Programming Coordinator at the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (2007-2012), the Situated Cinema Project mobile micro-cinema (Pleasure Dome, 2015), and the Winter Warmer (Sidewalk Labs Toronto, 2019).


Strategies for fostering a more argumentative and empowered audience with Dr. Lisa Aikman

November 25th 2019, 4-6pm

This sessions reading was Heim, Caroline. "'Argue with Us!': Audience Co-Creation through Post-Performance Discussions." New Theatre Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 2, 2012, pp. 189


Performance Audiences and Publics with Dr. Kelsey Blair

September 23 2019, 5-7pm

Dr. Kelsey Blair put Michael Warner’s distinctions between audiences, publics, and counterpublics in conversation with Erin Hurley’s concept of “affection” to think through the relationship between performance audiences and publics.


The Dynamic Spectator with Scott Mealey

March 28th 2019, 5:30-7:30pm

This working group was an exploration of the possible applications of DST/DSP to spectatorship, including the possible nature of our receptive wells, noise, and disruptions, and its important implications on our understanding of any transformative processes that may take place within a performance setting.


Invisibility in Research and Performance with Jessica Watkin

February 28th 2019, 5:30-7:30pm

In her chapter “The Ontology of Performance,” Peggy Phelan suggests that a feeling of mastery over a visual sits within the gaze of the spectator. Something happens in the transaction of seeing and being seen on stage, and that provides a language of invisibility when that transaction is broken. Jessica Watkins explored the possibilities for performance and research in that invisibility. 


Testing Cognitive Empathy as it Extends into Action with Jenny Salisbury

January 24th 2019, 5:30-7:30pm

This working group discussed the article "Out at School: Extending “Startling Empathy” Through Image Theatre" by authors Pam Baer, Jenny Salisbury, and Tara Goldstein and reflected on the way our verbatim theatre script "Out at School" was paired with Image Theatre work in an applied theatre class.


Empathy Working Group with Jenny Salisbury

April 20th 2018, 2-4pm

This working group on Empathy explored L.B. Cummings' thorough Introduction in Empathy as Dialogue in Theatre and Performance. Palgrave Macmillan, London 2016. It also included a presentation and exploration of the problem of empathy in Canadian collective creation, supported by case studies "The Public Servant" by Common Boots Theatre and "Out at School", a research-informed theatre piece in development at OISE, through Prof. Tara Goldstein's research team.


Working Group with Scott Mealsey

March 9th 2018, 2-4pm

This working group, facilitatied by Scott Mealey was an in-depth discussion of Dr. Matt Omasta's work, including a conversation about what lied ahead for CSAR and their next projects.


Working Group with Richard Windeyer

January 26th 2018, 2-4pm

This working group was an in-depth discussion of intermedial performance as an instrument of public engagement. With lived experience on the one hand and the accumulating ‘bodies’ of archived data on the other, we examined how statistics and informatics are increasingly used to represent and present lives.


An Aesthetic of Relationality with Julia Gray

November 24th 2017, 2-4pm

The working group meeting explored Gray, J. & Kontos, P. (In Press) "An aesthetic of relationality: embodiment, imagination and playing The Fool in research-informed theatre." Qualitative Inquiry. Gray also explored the aesthetic of relationality through a presentation focusing on the case-study Cracked: new light on dementia, co-created with Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance, at the University of Waterloo.


Real/Not Real with Jenny Salisbury

October 20th 2017, 2-4pm

This working group included a debate on "The Promise and Pitfalls of the Real" by Dani Snyder-Young. Published in Theatre Survey 57(3). September 2016. Jenny Salisbury, CSAR Associate Director, also presented and explored audiences for non-Realism, focusing on the case-study The Public Servant by Common Boots Theatre.


Direct Audience Address with Signy Lynch

September 29th 2017, 2-4pm

Signy Lynch, Ph.D. student at York University led a presentationa and discussion about Direct Audience Address, and the theories and methods around new research in this area.


"In Sundry Languages" with Art Babayants

March 31st 2017, 3:30-5:30pm

This working group explored both "In Saundry Languages", a devised piece of theatre in multiple languages, and the article "Acts of Spectating: The Dramaturgy of the Audience’s Experience in Contemporary Theatre" by Peter M. Boenisch


Working Group with Melanie Wilmink

February 24th 2017, 2-4pm

This month's agenda focused on the performance spaces of cinema and the art gallery with a presentation and discussion by CSAR member, Melanie Wilmink, from York University.


Working Group with Kelsey Jacobson

January 20th 2017, 2-4pm

This working included a presentation and discussion by CSAR associate director, Kelsey Jacobson, engaging a debate around the relationship between theatre of the real and audience members, considering in particular the politics of a perception of "realness". 


Working Group with Scott Mealey

November 25th 2016, 2-4pm

This work group continued on from the conversation last month about efficacy and persuasion by discussing "Enhancing the persuasive influence of entertainment-education events". Anat Gesser-Edelsburg and Arvind Singhal Critical Arts 27 (1) 2013. This was followed by a discussion led by CSAR associate director, Scott Mealey, engaging a debate around persuasive theory and audience conditions


Working Group with Scott Mealey

October 21st 2016, 2-4pm

Our discussion focused on pages 38 - 61, "Suspicion, frustration and contempt" and "Potent orthodoxies" from Helen Freshwater's 2009 "Theatre and Audience". A presentation and discussion by CSAR associate director Scott Mealey followed the book discussion. He engaged a debate around persuasive theory and artistic styles.


First Working Group with Cassandra Silver

September 16th 2016, 2-4pm

CSAR director, Cassandra Silver led a presentation and discussion, inviting responses to her work on spectatorship and action, looking at the conceptual differences of watching and doing and we explored Janelle Reinelt’s 2014 article, “What UK spectators know: Understanding how we come to value theatre.”

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