Performance Matters

Performance Matters is the house journal of the Institute for Performance Studies.

Please visit the dedicated Performance Matters site HERE.

Image Caption: Yuriko Doi, founder of San Francisco's Theatre of Yugen, demonstrating movement from a kyōgen play, Uri Nusubito [The Melon Thief]. Photo credit: Robert Isaacs/Theatre of Yugen (used by permission).

(Re)sounding Bodies East and West: Embodied Engagements with Japanese Traditions

Vol. 10 No. 1 (2024)

Issue Editors: Gretchen Jude and Lynette Hunter

This special issue traces the profound shifts in “Western” performance practices that occur when engagement with works from “the East” breaks down previous distinctions and generates new priorities and frameworks for understanding. In their focus on transcultural and intermodal ways of knowing, the scholar-practitioners contributing to the issue actively engage with Japanese performance traditions. Their articles offer critical perspectives on performance theory informed by ethnographic, anthropological, and historical methodologies, using approaches that open up the body as a site of profound importance for enacting transcultural understanding.

Image Caption: Brent Hardisty, Niiwin Binesi, 2022. Commissioned by Delinquent Theatre for The Seventh Fire, by Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen. Reprinted by permission of the artists.

Performing Practice-Based Research

Vol. 9 No.1-2 (2023)

Issue Editors: Peter Dickinson and Ellen Waterman

What is the performative force of practice-based research (PBR)? The contributions to this special double issue of Performance Matters address this question from a range of disciplinary perspectives, research sites, and creative and scholarly outcomes. In so doing, they demonstrate the ways in which PBR is a fitting methodology for our uncertain and precarious times.

Image Caption: "Human Knot: (Introduction to Performance Studies, Pratt Institute)." Photo: Julia Steinmetz, 2019.

The Syllabus is the Thing: Materialities of the Performance Studies Classroom

Vol. 8 No. 2 (2023)

Issue Editors: Karin Shankar and Julia Steinmetz

What does a performance studies syllabus instantiate or call into being in the classroom? In this special issue, contributors respond to this question, while simultaneously seeking to reframe the performance studies syllabus. If the syllabus (from its Greek origins, meaning “title,” “slip” or “label”) is a protocol for an experiment, how might we design syllabi to serve radical spaces of knowledge-making and modes of coming-to-know? In turn, how might syllabi create new structures within which to learn, reformulating the dynamics and relationships between teacher, student, and institution?

Image Caption: Nasrid tile, fifteenth century, glazed and painted blue and manganese earthenware with lustre, Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid, 1948–31. From Bordoy, Guillermo Rosselló. 1992. “The Ceramics of al-Andalus.” In Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, edited by Jerrilynn D. Dodds, 97–103. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sound Acts, Part 2: Receiving and Reflecting Vibration

Vol. 8 No. 1 (2022)

Issue Editors: Patricia Herrera, Caitlin Marshall, and Marci R. McMahon

The second of two linked special issues, Sound Acts, Part 2 continues to explore the embodied resonances of vibrational performance as "an improvisational art of living and being with others."

Image Caption: Frame grab from l i s t e n (2020), by Leah Decter.

Performing (in) Place: Moving on/with the Land

Vol. 7 No. 1-2 (2021)

Issue Editors: Jenn Cole and Melissa Poll

This special double issue features works that reflect on “walking” (or moving) practices that have been enacted in recognition of contributors' relationships to the ancestral Indigenous lands and territories they occupy, arrive to, or originate from. 

Image Caption: Rebecca Belmore, Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother (1991). Gathering, Johnson Lake, Banff National Park, Banff, Alberta, July 26, 2008. Photo: Sarah Ciurysek. Presented by the Walter Phillips Gallery as part of the exhibition Bureau de Change, July 12–September 28, 2008. Image courtesy Rebecca Belmore and the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Purchased with the support of the York Wilson Endowment Award, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts. Accession #P08 0001 S.

Sound Acts, Part 1

Vol. 6 No. 2 (2020)

Issue Editors: Patricia Herrera, Caitlin Marshall, and Marci R. McMahon

The first of two linked special issues, Sound Acts, Part 1 explores the resonances of sound in the field of performance studies, asking "how the materiality of sound acts as a form of aesthetic and political possibility."

Image Caption: Improvisation: Ten Bodies/Ten Cameras. Photo: The Performative Camera Workshop

Copresence with the Camera

Vol. 6 No. 1 (2020)

Issue Editors: Lynette Hunter, Alex Lichtenfels, Heather Nolan, and John Zibell

This special issue documents the processes of practitioners working with cameras, revealing what artists and cameras can do together as a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Image Caption: Audience watching Untitled by Tanya Lukin Linklater at Niigaani-Gichigami. Oniatarí:io, part of the Ka'tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

21st-Century Spectatorship

Vol. 5 No. 2 (2019)

Issue Editors: Kelsey Jacobson, Scott Mealey, Jenny Salisbury, and Cassandra Silver

How has the context of being a spectator changed in the twenty-first century? Contributors address this question by considering how viewing, listening, and receiving are uniquely experienced in contemporary performance frameworks.

Image Caption: Lee Su-Feh in Dance Machine. Photo: Trung Dung Nguyen, courtesy of Festival Trans-Amériques.

Backspace: A Special Issue on Dance Studies

Vol. 5 No. 1 (2019)

Issue Editors: Alana Gerecke and Mary Fogarty Woehrel

In this special issue, focused on dance studies, contributors explore the productive possibilities of the back in its multiple senses: spatial, temporal, aesthetic, and kinaesthetic. Authors experiment with efforts to foreground the background: the backstage work, the backspaces, and the backstories that move dancing bodies—an impulse resonating through current dance studies conversations in Canada and elsewhere.

Image Caption: Minimum Monument, by Néle Azevedo, in Silkeborg-DK, August 2017. Image © Néle Azevedo. Used by permission.

Performance and Bodies-Politic

Vol. 4 No. 3 (2018)

Issue Editor: Róisín O'Gorman

Deriving from a series of events held at University College Cork in 2015 and 2016, this issue considers the intersections of performance and public political life, the efficacy and strategies of performance in that arena, and the ways in which performative actions enable protests and processes of political change to remain open and non-violent. Looked at through a performance framework, how can the expressive, experiential terrain of the body meet, interrogate, and re-calibrate our understanding of ongoing questions of agency, action, and subjectivity in order to attend to the various ways in which bodies tell their own stories at the intersections of arts, activism, and scholarship?

Image Caption: "Step Right Up!": Circus Amok's Jennifer Miller introduces this special issue of Performance Matters on "Circus and Its Others." Click through to the Table of Contents to view Jennifer's full welcome message.

Circus and Its Others

Vol. 4 No. 1-2 (2018)

Issue Editors: Karen Fricker and Hayley Malouin

Making a bold intervention into the burgeoning world of contemporary circus research, this special double issue brings together 20 papers (many of them first presented at an international conference in Montreal in 2016) in order to address the following questions: To what extent and in what ways is circus always-already different, and about difference? How does the mainstreaming of circus in our era affect its status as a haven for the different, the outsider? What is happening to circus’s historic status as a site for the celebration and exploitation of differences, from stagings of exceptional performing bodies to the display of “freakery,” in the context of the increased mainstream popularity of the genre? In what ways are contemporary circus artists and companies embracing and exploiting (or not) difference in their practice?

Image Caption: Frame grab image from first section, "Atomism," of Subjective Object, a three-part video by Jane Long.

Science and Performance

Vol. 3 No. 2 (2017)

Issue Editor: Coleman Nye

Mimicking, replicating, enacting, figuring, speculating, staging, choreographing – these practices of making and knowing perform promiscuous crossings at the intersections of science and performance. This special issue addresses the relation between science and performance from various disciplinary, historical, and theoretical perspectives, with contributors from the humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, and the arts thinking science and performance with, through, and/or against each other.

Image Caption: Opening photo from Jesus Camp Queen showing the author/performer, Angela J Latham, as a child, standing in front of the church her father pastored when he was a missionary to the Philippines.

Performing Religion

Vol. 3 No. 1 (2017)

Issue Editor: Joy Palacios

This issue looks at the ways that performance and religion, both as practices and fields of study, overlap. Drawing on recent scholarship in both fields, contributors approach the question of what it means to perform religion using an array of objects of study, methods, and analytical frameworks.

Image Caption: Philippe Petit on a cable suspended between the two towers of the newly completed World Trade Center in New York City, August 7, 1974. Film still from the 2008 documentary, Man on Wire, directed by James Marsh. Photo: Jean-Louis Blondeau, 1974.

Vol. 2 No. 2 (2016)

Issue Editor: Peter Dickinson

This general issue includes essays on atmospheric performances of light, Helen Levitt’s performance photography, Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between New York’s World Trade Centre Towers in 1974, and the opportunities and risks that come with adapting “Indigenous ways of knowing” to digital spaces. Additionally, a special forum section addresses the state of dance studies in Canada.

Image Caption: Logo for Ignoramus Anonymous (2013-2014), by Malcolm Whittaker. Logo design by Marissa Gillies.

Performance and Pedagogy

Vol. 2 No. 1 (2016)

Issue Editor: Peter Dickinson

Pedagogy, like performance, takes practice. In this issue contributors rehearse different strategies and techniques for the transmission of knowledge (embodied and otherwise) across a range of institutional, instructional, and performative contexts.

Image Caption: VestAndPage (Vera Stenke and Andrea Pagnes), from the Performers series, by Patrick Morarescu.

Archiving Performance

Vol. 1 No. 1-2 (2015)

Issue Editor: Peter Dickinson

Performance Matters is officially launched with this special double-issue devoted to questions of performance archives and the “archival turn” in performance.