- Reflections from Former Editors
As I moved into the role of coeditor this past fall, I thought that learning from my predecessors would be the wise way to approach this new position. Certainly my editor, D. J. Hopkins, has helped immensely in this endeavor. And, as I reached out to former editors, a collective history began to emerge that merited sharing with a wider audience.
What follows is a formalized “discussion” with every former editor of Theatre Topics, who were all gracious enough to submit their responses to the following questions: What were the main goals of Theatre Topics during your tenure as editor? What, in your opinion, were the successes of the journal, or, conversely, how has it faced challenges over the years? How has it contributed to or even helped change the field as we have developed over the years? As we transition to our new format (of three issues per year), what do you think Theatre Topics could or should be offering to the fields of performance and theatre studies in the future?
Through the individual names and responses, a genealogy of Theatre Topics unfolded. Each voice interweaves to create a living editorial tradition. And while each voice is distinct, some common themes emerge: from a rigorous culture of editing, to mentoring of new authors, to the particular relationships between the journal and its institutional sponsor. Different stages of the journal have included different formats, while other themes, such as dramaturgy, return again (and will return once again with our next issue). Most interestingly, the twenty-year-plus span of reflection suggests the ways that the changes in the field of theatre and performance have mirrored the mission of the journal to bridge theory and practice in both pedagogical and methodological ways.
Beverley Byers-Pevitts, Founding Editor, 1990–93
In 1990, the Board of Governors of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), guided by then vice president for Research and Publications Julian Olf, president James Symons, and THEatre FORUM chair Patricia VandenBerg Blom, voted to form a new partnership with Johns Hopkins University Press (JHUP) to found a journal titled Theatre Topics (TT). The principal goal was to develop this journal, a milestone in publishing, in a format separate from Theatre Journal (TJ). Thus TT, with its carefully selected subtitle Dramaturgy/Performance Studies/Pedagogy, became a journal of choice for theatre practitioners/artists/teachers. The other goal was to provide a source of publication for those who practice and teach in the fields of acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, and “technical theatre,” and to also include the art of pedagogy—how professional theatre educators teach the theatre arts, its literature and history. For some time, theatre artists and teachers had been requesting the development of such a journal.
After agreeing to be the founding editor of TT, I worked with Marie Hansen and, subsequently, Judith Lerner and Sandy Fleming at JHUP and the ATHE board to create the journal. Establishing a new journal to showcase the work of theatre practitioners, artists, scholars, and teachers had been a goal of the first board. Marie and I, as founding president of ATHE, built on our relationship created in the late 1980s when TJ was saved for publication through an agreement developed by ATHE and JHUP. [End Page 71]
Volume 1, number 1 premiered in March 1991. This first issue embraced studies of performance culture, performance space, performance style, performance text, and nontext-based performance. The writers collectively explored our interest in the phenomena surrounding the act of performance, as well as the textual impulse to perform.
We established that we would not publish theatre reviews or book reviews, which was the purview of TJ. The new journal was committed to publishing articles in the areas of dramaturgy, performance studies, and pedagogy. Realizing that established ways of performing, studying, and presenting our creative work must be reexamined, we initially published three sections: “subject articles,” which were up to thirty manuscript pages...