The Call for Proposals is now open for FOOT32: Handle with Care!

September 7, 2023 by Tara Maher

The 32nd iteration of the Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT32) at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies focuses on the theme “Handle with Care.” This theme responds to a trend we have witnessed in academic and artistic spaces alike: that research and performance be treated as acts of care for others and ourselves. 

In 1969, performance artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles proposed “Care,” an exhibition predicated on the question: “...after the revolution, who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?” Hidden behind that provocation is the idea that supportive structures of care maintain the status quo, a point that only rings truer 55 years later. Editors of the 2023 Performance Research edition “On Care” recognize “that caring has become both a metanarrative and a super policy:…care, or else” (2). What should merely be a shared commitment to empathy instead may connote how care has been commodified across neoliberal industries of beauty, travel, and wellness, for example. Indeed, “Handle with Care” represents our caution in proceeding with a statute of care that has universally positive implications. 

Yet our question remains: how do we continue to care with genuine intent? This conference aims to understand how artists, academics, and activists handle the mandate to perform acts of care. By acknowledging care as a certain consideration to the processes of advocacy, research, and more, we hope to support and further the efforts of people who handle themselves and the world around them with a communal commitment to love.

We invite proposals for panels and paper presentations that address care in the study and practice of performance. Potential topics may include:

  • Performances that dramaturgically incorporate care for their audiences/spectators, their surrounding community, and/or their land/site.
  • Successes, methods, and challenges in the pedagogy, teaching, and or management of caring for students and/or employees in learning/arts spaces. 
  • Methods and/or challenges to incorporating care into performance creation/rehearsal processes.
  • Considerations and/or challenges of performance space, sites, and delivery that innovatively care for the access needs of audiences/spectators.
  • Successes and/or challenges of sustaining performance practice as a means of self-care for working academics.
  • Successes and challenges in performance being a means of inspiring care for social, environmental, and/or existential causes.
  • Benefits and/or pitfalls to performance academia/criticism being a means of care/advocacy for performers.
  • Rituals and practices of self-care and collective care undertaken by performance practitioners.

“Handle with Care” is being planned as an in-person conference. Please submit a proposal (250 words) and biography (100 words per participant) via our online application forms by October 18, 2023. 

FOOT has a long-standing tradition of facilitating presentations that experiment with and transgress the typical conventions of academic conferencing. We welcome and encourage proposals that incorporate practice and/or performance as a means of bridging institutional divides between arts and academy. We cannot provide additional AV or theatre tech support past that which can be expected for a paper presentation. All submitted proposals will be considered for their aim, scope, and feasibility within FOOT32’s mandate.
About FOOT

The Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT) is the annual conference held by the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. Organized by graduate students at the Centre, its goal is to provide scholars and artists an outlet to showcase, critique, review, perform, discuss, and analyze the changing world of drama, theatre, and performance.