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  • Editorial
  • Natalie Alvarez

In this Views and Reviews, we feature a diverse collection of pieces that share a common interest in the formal and material conditions of theatre and performance creation, from the materiality of the body itself to the scenographic and dramaturgical structures that frame our encounters with those bodies. We begin by continuing the conversation about dance and movement in an interview with Sandra Laronde, choreographer and artistic director of Red Sky Performance, a company known for its interdisciplinary creations in world indigenous performance. In her interview with Laronde, Heather Fitzsimmons Frey probes Laronde's artistic investments and discovers how Laronde's choreography aims to elicit the "soul-speak," images conjured by the body, which "gives spirit a voice." Laronde, we learn, is interested in where culture, history, and memory "sit in the body" and how the land lives in the body. For Laronde, the body, as a mnemonic vessel that carries these cultural histories, possesses its own language and her choreography is attuned to the complex ways in which movement speaks.

In her review of Kirsty Johnston's Stage Turns: Canadian Disability Theatre, Petra Kuppers highlights Johnston's attention to the material conditions that are making possible the creation of increasingly accessible stages for diversely abled performers and theatre artists. Johnston's detailed analyses of everything from working methods during the rehearsal process to innovative scenographic designs reveal the multiple striations of what "accessibility" in theatre and performance entails. These accessible stages—and stagings—allow disability to become normalized and "part of human experience" (Johnston qtd. in Kuppers 95).

The following review pivots on this interest in the scenographic and turns our attention to Peter McKinnon and Eric Fielding's edited collection World Scenography 1975-1990, which features an impressive 380 productions that are documented in full colour. As in Johnston's work, the materiality of the process is brought to the fore with archival images, sketches, maquettes, technical drawings, and production photos that invite the reader to juxtapose these remains with the designers' and, in some cases, designer researchers' accounts. Natalie [End Page 89] Rewa's review very usefully calls our attention to what this collection offers, namely, insight into how the designer often serves as a "dramaturgical collaborator" in the production process.

Next, Melissa Poll takes us to Vancouver's Progress Lab, where a group of the city's most exciting companies serve as "dramaturgical collaborators" for each other but through a rather counter-intuitive process. In the Obstructions series, the collaborators mutually inflict a list of obstructions or obstacles that the companies must surmount in the performance creation process. Poll's analysis of Radix Theatre's BEUTFL CARATS reveals that these obstructions prove to be anything but: the obstacles are creatively generative, spurs to innovative thinking in the construction of scenographic space and how stories are told. In the end, the obstructions are a foil highlighting and celebrating the sheer creativity of these companies, which Poll situates in productive contrast to the dire rhetoric decrying the demise of Vancouver's arts scene.

And finally, where for the Progress Lab obstructions serve as a usefully generative structure for the devising process, we learn how, for a group of Vancouver high school students, Joseph Campbell's "monomyth" offers a similarly gainful structure as they begin the task of telling their own stories in The Edge Project. Monica Prendergast examines this unique collaboration between the professional theatre artists of Vancouver's Green Thumb Theatre and drama educators who mentored eighty high school students from the Vancouver area through a production process that was eventually showcased at the 2013 international PuSh Festival. Prendergast queries how this event models future strategic partnerships, enjoining us to consider what we stand to gain from such collaborations.

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pp. 89-90
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