- A Note from the Editor
The five essays featured in this issue of Theatre Topics move in a variety of directions and address a number of issues that will undoubtedly be of interest to those working in the fields of theatre and performance studies. The first three pieces constitute a special section addressing "Performance and Ecology." Under the skillful guest editorship of Wendy Arons, the authors of these three pieces expertly and provocatively address some of the key issues and concerns guiding this emerging area of scholarship. I am thrilled that Theatre Topics is one of the first academic journals to feature an extensive consideration of this subject. Additionally, I would like to call attention to Wendy's fine essay, which more directly introduces and frames the essays in this cluster.
The two pieces following this Performance and Ecology cluster both address topics that large numbers of our readership will surely find relevant: the reception skills of student audiences, and the process surrounding community-based documentary theatre. While these issues have been addressed in the pages of previous issues of this journal, the authors of the pieces herein offer fresh perspectives and ideas based on specific examples drawn from their personal experiences.
In the first, "Toward 'Critical Generosity': Cultivating Student Audiences," Leah Lowe outlines pedagogical strategies for fostering in student populations the skills essential to the critical viewing of theater. She not only provides useful information on ways to nurture and educate students in the practice of audiencing a performance, but also offers a thoroughgoing description of her pedagogical approaches and, by extension, a persuasive account of how her students' reception of theatre grew more sophisticated and nuanced by way of these strategies. I believe it also bears mentioning that the sheer delight underlying Leah's description of these experiences and suggestions is, quite simply, infectious.
The same may be said for the piece rounding out this issue of Theatre Topics. In "An Aesthetic of Neighborliness: Possibilities for Integrating Community-Based Practices into Documentary Theatre," Erica Nagel addresses questions crucial to the process of creating, shaping, and staging community-engaged documentary theatre. Using her experience in co-creating a piece titled Bare Mountains as a frame, Nagel critically unpacks the unique challenges (and unforeseen joys) that accompany this type of theatre-making, from conception, through development, and finally to performance. Of particular importance is Nagel's endeavor to offer a new way of addressing—through her "aesthetic of neighborliness" as derived from the literary critic / anthropologist Mary Savage—the various creative and social dilemmas that arise for theatre artists engaged in this type of work.
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With this issue I complete my term as editor of Theatre Topics. It has been my distinct pleasure to work on this journal for the past four years, first in my capacity as co-editor (under the editorship and, for me, outstanding tutelage of Joan Herrington) and then, for two years, as editor. In addition to Joan, there are many people who have helped me meet and overcome the challenges that accompany this sort of work. First, I would like to extend my thanks to the past and current chairs of the Research & Publications Committee for ATHE, Jenny Spencer and Ric Knowles. Their constant support of my work has been integral to any success I have had. I would also like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the dozens of individuals who have volunteered their time and shared their expertise while serving as peer respondents during my editorship. Without risk of hyperbole, I can attest that the work of the journal would not get done without these individuals' selfless commitment. [End Page fmvii] Thanks as well to the fine editorial board of Theatre Topics whose members give of their time on a regular basis to read submissions. In particular, I would be remiss if I did not pause to give special thanks to board members Stacy Wolf and Dorothy Chansky who have, time and again, provided sage counsel.
Additionally, during my tenure I have had the honor of working with two exceptional book review editors: DeAnna Toten Beard and Terry Brino-Dean. Terry, who begins his two-year term as book review editor...