During its first 25 years, ATHE has played a crucial role in advancing theatre and performance in higher education in North America. This year’s conference pauses to celebrate ATHE’s unique impact and to advance these conversations in ways that transcend national borders and disciplinary lines. As we move forward, how can we build on ATHE’s strength for bringing together artists and scholars to better respond to and shape the discipline of theatre and performance?
Returning to Chicago, the site of ATHE’s founding, challenges us to think about theatre’s insistence on repetition and presence. Theatre necessarily exists in the present, but how does this live moment remember the past and imagine the future? How might we re-imagine the place of performance beyond boundaries of time and space, nation and discipline, practitioner and scholar?
Ah, nostalgia — not what it used to be. Even the most wistful memories of a bygone time seem threatened by the wrecking ball of our greed-driven culture and speeded-up lives. What does it mean to miss something? Who are we when the very geography we remember is no longer around to orient us? Split Britches’ Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver consider such questions with deconstructive charm and comely defiance in Lost Lounge, a behind-the-scenes peek into the labor and romance of two lounge act performers (accompanied on keyboards by Vivian Stoll).
Retrieving and repurposing long-forgotten source mate-rial — such as songs from the 1950s lounge duo Louis Prima and Keely Smith, and text from the 1971 film Le Chat, in which a dilapidated marriage inhabits a home slated for demolition — they locate the place of memory, and the memory of place, in our need to look toward the future. Split Britches is itself a precious landmark of more than 30 years of downtown and queer performance — holding fast to an honest, exploratory aesthetic that brings constant renewal.
ATHE’s 25th Annual Conference
Palmer House Hilton Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
August 11-14, 2011