FOOT 2024

The 32nd annual Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT) Conference at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies is open for registration. This year’s FOOT Conference with its theme “Handle With Care” will take place on February 8 and 9, 2024 at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse at 79 St. George Street. Learn more about the conference in the FOOT 2024 Conference Agenda (pdf) and read the FOOT 2024 Book of Abstracts (pdf). 

“Handle With Care” responds to a trend witnessed in academic and artistic spaces alike: that research and performance be treated as acts of care for others and ourselves. “Handle With Care” represents caution in proceeding with a statute of care that has universally positive implications. The conference aims to understand how artists, academics, and activists handle the mandate to perform acts of care.

This year's keynote lecturer is Dr. Ajay Heble, the founding director of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) and professor of English at the University of Guelph. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2023 Killiam Prize in the Humanities, one of Canada’s most prestigious research awards. Dr. Heble will speak on Friday, February 9 at 10am in the UC Croft House.

Dr. Ajay Heble

Keynote Lecture: Dr. Ajay Heble
Lecture title: Curating With Care: Festivals, Pedagogy, Community
Friday, February 9 at 10am, Croft House

What might it mean for research, performance, and pedagogy to be treated as acts of care? How might we, as teachers, scholars, artists, and activists create the conditions that would make fulfilling and expansive practices of care more possible? Taking my cue and inspiration from creative, curatorial, and critical practices that seek to define broader pedagogical priorities in terms of an activist and community-based orientation, I’ll consider care as a common thread that runs throughout my work as an educator, arts presenter, and scholar. I’m interested in how best, as arts presenters, educators, and community-based activists, we can participate meaningfully in enabling generative forms of community-making, critical thinking, and social practice. What might it mean to recognize the work we do at our festivals, in our classrooms, and with our communities as a vital form of activist arts-based practice and a pedagogy of care?  

Donovan Hayden

Keynote Performance: Donovan Hayden
Friday, February 9 at 7pm, Playhouse
X is an unassuming Black man. That is until he encounters a mural beneath a bridge, where ‘da Spirit of the Struggle’ transmits the knowledge of Black resistance to him in an instant. Now he must find his place in the Struggle, guided by an artist, MC, who challenges X’s understanding of the movement and the personal consequences of activism. This show is inspired by artist Donovan Hayden’s experiences during the massive Black Lives Matter protests that stretched around the globe since 2020, and his continued involvement in the movement. A Patron’s Pick production at the 2022 Toronto Fringe Festival and performed at Theatre Passe Muraille in 2023, X and Da Spirit is a celebration of Toronto Blackness, resistance, and community through rap, dance, graffiti, music and spoken word.

The keynote performer is Donovan Hayden, a Black Canadian theatre creator and political organizer. Hayden strives to tell stories that engage, challenge, and activate audiences. He values doing theatre that is communal and centers the dynamic lives of Black people in North America. Hayden is currently based in Toronto and is an organizer at the political nonprofit Progress Toronto. Blending his politics with theatre has become a way for him to ask questions and play around with answers. Hayden will perform on Friday, February 9 at 7pm in the Playhouse.

The program will be available soon and will offer multiple presentations, performances, roundtables, panel discussions and workshops. Register in advance to receive the meeting details and full agenda.

*The full program and schedule will be posted and available very soon. You can also follow us on Instagram at for updates.