Beyond the Western Canon

Canons act as both aspirational mirrors and genealogies for societies, but they also go beyond reflecting an image: they define how we make work and who is invited into the studio, on whose terms. Amid this catastrophe, we have an opportunity to rebuild: what stories will tell us who we are and how we got here, and how will we gather to tell them? This five-part series features curators and artists who participated in the Stratford Festival Lab’s Beyond the Western Canon workshop series in the Summer of 2019. This investigation was designed to push beyond the bounds of what is thought of as the theatre’s traditional artistic mandate: the “Western Canon.” In these articles and conversations, artists share their negotiations with dominant systems and structures, imagining holistic processes for a canon-to-come.

Photo of a white German man pouring whiskey for a Black Nigerian man.
I am Wole, I am Heiner
Essay

I am Wole, I am Heiner

For a Fully Realized Representation of Brown Artists on Stage

27 May 2020

In this last installment of the Beyond the Western Canon series, Sadie Berlin questions how marginalized voices are represented on stage and calls for more experimental work by artists of color on Canadian stages.

multiple people posing for a photo next to the stratford festival sign
Toward a Trans Canon
Essay

Toward a Trans Canon

26 May 2020

In the penultimate installment of the series, Emma Frankland details her experience staging a trans takeover of the canon with a cohort of trans, Two-Spirit, and non-binary artists. The article includes a set of recommendations for creating trans-affirming theatre spaces created by Emma and her collaborators.

four actors onstage
This is Not a Rhetorical Question
Essay

This is Not a Rhetorical Question

Neoliberal Identity Politics in Current Casting Practices

21 May 2020

Carmen Aguirre talks identity politics and the casting of Latinx plays in Canada.

four actors onstage
Navigating Indigenous Storytelling with Mixed Company
Essay

Navigating Indigenous Storytelling with Mixed Company

20 May 2020

Keith Barker and Lindsay Lachance talk about the challenges and rewards of working in mixed company with Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, including what it’s like to navigate work with sensitive subject matter, including Indigenous histories and colonization.

Where the Wars of Self-Definition are Fought
Essay

Where the Wars of Self-Definition are Fought

19 May 2020

ted witzel, artistic associate for the Stratford Festival Lab in Ontario, Canada, introduces his series based on learnings from the Lab’s recent explorations under a mission of “gesturing toward a decolonial canon.”

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Series are collections of content curated around a specific theme. HowlRound works with curators to develop topical pieces meant to spotlight current events and happenings within the commons.