- Editor’s Comments
With this issue, I end my tenure as editor of Theatre Topics and heartily welcome the incoming editor, Harley Erdman. A dramaturg and theatre historian at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Harley has been an active member of ATHE since his graduate school days at the University of Texas, Austin. As consulting editor for the last two years, Harley has reviewed most of the articles submitted for publication and is committed to building upon the productive dialogue those submissions represent.
Although my editorial term has expired, my interest in the journal and its policies will undoubtedly continue. For the rewarding experience this job has proven to be, I owe many thanks—especially to the patient, good-natured authors published in the last three years, to the reviewers who have insured the quality of their work; and to Vicki Patraka, Jill Dolan, Kate Davy, Stacy Wolf, and Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, who have provided, both in and beyond their various official capacities, invaluable encouragement and support. Finally, the assistance of Tim Doherty, Katy Ryan, and Lesley Hyatt made journal editing infinitely more manageable and often more fun.
We are pleased to include in this issue the first annual publication of an ATHE keynote speech, as well as an address by Joseph Roach on the current state of the profession. While conferences are most useful to those who attend and participate in them, the editors recognize that being there is often not possible for many in the field. Roach’s “Reconstructing Theatre/History” will give readers a taste of a symposium held last spring in honor of Oscar Brockett’s remarkable contribution to theatre studies. Heeding Brockett’s advice to welcome the new while preserving the best of the old, Roach challenges us to more fully embrace performance as the unifying principle of our field, as both the object and method of our research. In fact, the direction Roach advocates would reconfigure what it means to study theatre in the twenty-first century. Guillermo Gómez-Peña delivered an equally provocative keynote presentation for the 1998 ATHE meeting in San Antonio. Inviting us to imagine the future as well as to examine the present, Gómez-Peña artfully targets his audience’s unwitting collusion in the xenophobic and politically dangerous patterns of thought and behavior that currently characterize Mexican-American relations. In keeping with the topical nature of this journal, the editors invite the submission of key presentations from any theatre-related conference in the coming year.
Four articles follow that build on Theatre Topics’s strength as a journal focused on pedagogy and performance. In “Ahhhh Freak Out!: Metaphors of Disability and Femaleness in Performance,” Carrie Sandahl uses a Disability Studies perspective to critique her own feminist direction of Joan Schenkar’s [End Page iv] Signs of Life, reflecting upon the disability issues that her production both did, and did not, address. In “‘Saving Whiteface’ in Tanzania: Intercultural Discomforts,” Laura Edmondson provides a compelling ethnographic tale that illustrates and extends the feminist and postcolonial theory she read in preparation for her fieldwork in Africa. The two next articles focus in a practical and engaging way on design and dramaturgy. In “Design Games,” Steven T. Sarratore describes a series of games that can produce tangible results for any design classroom or project. “In Writing for RALPH: An Exploration in the Dramaturgy of Sustainable Theatre,” playwright Barbara Carlisle and scenic designer Randy Ward narrate their first successful attempts to create a dynamic, architectural design environment that would positively affect all aspects of their college theatre program. Each of these articles illustrate Roach’s claim about the importance of performance as a method of research as well as an object of study.
I am proud to have served as an advocate for theatre in higher education through this lively and provocative journal, one of the most widely read in our field. Under Harley Erdman’s leadership, Theatre Topics will continue to develop its voice, providing a source of inspiration and critical reflection on what we do in our classrooms, productions, and community projects.