Faculty Research Projects and Events

photo of a woman removing an egg from a nest

the morning I died I flew over the tobacco fields, research creation project, created by Lynn Hutchinson Lee, Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston, Rajat Nayyar and Becky Gold. Photo: Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston

The Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies has established a strong reputation nationally and internationally thanks in large part to the professional reputation and excellence of its faculty. In recent years faculty appointed to the Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies have received grants from a number of granting agencies in Canada and the United States. Many of the Theatre Studies faculty are prolific in the area of publication and also serve as editors of major theatre and performance studies journals in Canada and throughout the world. In addition, senior faculty members are eagerly sought after as consultants and lecturers by universities and artistic associations in countries such as Russia, Bulgaria, South Africa, Japan, India, and South Korea. Faculty have also played important roles in the areas of community outreach, running community arts programs from within the university as well as workshops for remote communities in Nunavut and on Manitoulin Island. Other faculty have been instrumental in bringing large international conferences to Toronto, showcasing York’s talent and resources. In short, the faculty appointed to the Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies are hard-working, dedicated scholars with extensive international connections.

Due to the collaborative nature of academic research, faculty members frequently hire graduate and undergraduate students to work for them as Research Assistants. Below is a sampling of some large-scale research projects and journals, both of which have involved graduate student research.

Ongoing Large-scale Research Projects and Journals

Canadian Theatre Review

  • General Editor: Laura Levin
  • Editorial Assistant: Bradley High (2011-12); Melanie Bennett (2012-13)


Published quarterly, the Canadian Theatre Review is the major magazine of record for Canadian theatre. CTR is committed to excellence in the critical analysis and innovative coverage of current developments in Canadian theatre, advocating new issues and artists, and publishing at least one significant new playscript per issue. The editorial board is committed to CTR's practice of theme issues that present multi-faceted and in-depth examinations of the emerging issues of the day, expand the practice of criticism in Canadian theatre, and allow for the development of new voices. This includes an ongoing and active search for writers from historically marginalized and silenced communities. Trends and tangents in Canadian theatre are examined in quarterly thematic issues to initiate and provoke discussion on issues of concern to the theatre community. Both new and established playwrights find a voice in CTR. Each issue includes at least one complete playscript related to the issue theme, insightful articles, and informative reviews. CTR continues to delve into issues of Canadian theatre, providing theatre scholars with a starting point for further study of current developments in the field. Recent themes detailed by the Canadian Theatre Review include Native Theatre, Actor Training, Canadian Women Playwrights, and Scenography.

Professor Laura Levin is the General Editor of CTR and students from the Graduate Program in Theatre Studies serve as editorial assistants.



InTensions is an interdisciplinary peer reviewed e-journal published out of Fine Arts at York University. This initiative brings together interventions by scholars and artists whose work deals with the theatricality of power, corporealities of structural violence, and sensory regimes. Please visit InTensions for more information.

The Performance Studies (Canada) Project

  • Principal Investigator: Laura Levin
  • Co-Investigator: Marlis Schweitzer
  • Graduate Student Participants: Melanie Bennett, Alicia Di Stefano, Benjamin Gillespie, Shana MacDonald, Katie McMillan, Christine McLeary, Kim McLeod, Marjan (SZ) Moosavi, Jean O’Hara, Christina Sanali, Susan Stover, Richie Wilcox


The Performance Studies (Canada) Project is a SSHRC-funded research study that explores how the field of performance studies (PS) has developed in Canada over the past few decades. The project seeks to bring together performance studies researchers located in Canada to share their work, identify major works of performance theory on Canadian subjects that have been left out of American-centred mappings of the field, and ask how institutional and cultural conditions have produced alternative articulations of “performance” in Canadian contexts.

Through collaborative work with researchers across Canada, the project contributes to debates about the origins and definitions of performance studies, which are now central to understanding this interdisciplinary field. Since its official inception as a discipline in the 1980s, with the creation of the first Performance Studies Department at NYU, the discipline has focused on the study of a broad spectrum of cultural behaviours that fall under the umbrella of performance, including popular entertainments (games, sports, etc.), performance art, festivals, carnivals, protests, religious ceremonies, and cultural rituals. Equally important within this area of study has been the popularization of the term “performativity as a lens through which to understand the construction of identity and the performance of self in everyday life. As such, the theories and methods of performance studies have been influential to researchers in a number of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, communication studies, gender/sexuality studies, religious studies, and the fine arts (to name but a few).

Centre for Imaginative Ethnography (CIE)


The Centre for Imaginative Ethnography (CIE) is an independent cyber-collective where experimental and emergent ethnographic methodologies integrate and fuse creative arts, digital media, and sensory ethnography, and where new ethnographic writing is encouraged in teaching, theory, and practice.  The goal of the CIE is to bring together cultural workers - from within and without universities - in conversations, creations and actions that articulate critical research and seek new forms of political engagement.  CIE is a research and gathering place for people interested in possibilities, a space for generating conversations and debates and sharing resources, and for instigating action.

The founders and curators of the CIE have roots in the anthropology of colonialism and postcolonialism, urban ethnography, and performance ethnography.

The Impresario Project: Tracking the Transnational Trade in Theatrical Commodities - Completed 2013

  • Principal Investigator: Marlis Schweitzer
  • Graduate Student Participants: Rebecca Halliday, Zita Nyarady, Anton Wagner, Richie Wilcox


The Impresario Project: Tracking the Transnational Trade in Theatrical Commodities examines the period between 1905 and 1910, when a series of theatrical business wars in the United States encouraged the rapid acquisition and circulation of foreign plays, performers, acts, stage properties, and theatrical personnel. Imported from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, these commodities promoted a touristic gaze, offering American audiences the theatrical equivalent of a Grand Tour in the comfort of a Broadway theatre. Yet more than affording a glimpse of exotic cultures or introducing new approaches to acting or scenography, these imports exposed American audiences to, and in some cases directly involved them in, escalating geopolitical tensions. Foreign theatrical commodities not only provoked heated discussion among American audiences about such topics as immigration, public health, and foreign trade but also reflected, and may even have influenced, US foreign policy.

Through a close analysis of the most popular, controversial, and financially viable commodities to enter the United States in the decade leading up to World War I, The Impresario Project considers the vital relationship between commerce, politics, and art. In so doing, it pays heed to Tracy C. Davis’s warning that that “[i]f culture’s historians ignore business, they overlook the resources that make or break an artist’s choice” (1). Theatre historians have written extensively about the rise of national theatre cultures in Canada and the United States but few have fully investigated the business landscape that brought thousands of foreign plays, players, performance styles, costumes, sets and other objects to these countries at the turn of the twentieth century nor have they fully considered the effect of these foreign imports on American audiences and social discourse. By analyzing the multiple business and personal networks that supported a transnational trade in theatrical commodities, this project aims to situate turn-of-the-century theatre practices firmly within the intertwined histories of globalization and transnational commodity culture. Please visit Impresario Project for more information.

Impact of Arts on Quality of Life at the Neighborhood Level


Professor Alberto Guevara is part of a major initiative funded by SSHRCC’s Partnership Development Program. This project, a partnership between Toronto Arts Foundation (TAF), Art Starts, OCAD University and York University, is about the Impact of Arts on Quality of Life at the Neighborhood Level. The project will be a longitudinal study, broken into two phases, which will examine the ways in which Toronto residents interact and engage with the arts at a local level. Five neighborhoods will be targeted over a four-year period to explore how arts are defined, how and where residents engage with arts, and the impact arts engagement has on individuals and communities.

Ambassadors of Empire: Child performers and colonial audiences, 1835-1860

  • Principal Investigator: Marlis Schweitzer
  • Graduate Student Participants: Marjan SZ Moosavi


Ambassadors of Empire asks how the movement of child performers along global theatrical circuits affirmed British cultural values, served imperial interests, and provoked debate about colonial identity in the mid-nineteenth century. Bridging recent scholarship in theatre and performance studies, childhood studies, postcolonial studies, and literary studies, it considers the importance of performing children to the maintenance of affective ties between metropole and colony. Current fascination with celebrity children, from paparazzi favourite Suri Cruise to the obnoxious beauty pageant contestant "Honey Boo Boo" suggest that a historical study of nineteenth-century child performers may yield important insights into the ways that children have been called upon as emotional laborers to promote hegemonic cultural values. In recent years, literary and cultural historians have identified the myriad ways that British children were trained to view themselves as imperial subjects during the Victorian era, while theatre historians have produced important studies of nineteenth-century child performers. This project brings this scholarship together by analyzing how the lengthy world tours undertaken by the most celebrated “Infant Phenomena” affirmed British cultural values and supported colonial hierarchies. By looking at performing children as instruments of culture, it aims to offer new insights into the role of affect in the performance and construction of empire.

Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology


Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology is an ambitious new research centre based in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance, and Design at York University that supports cross-disciplinary work in application and content creation, artistic and scientific inquiry, policy development and critical discourse in digital media arts.  Integrating both digital technologies and human factors, areas of specialization within Sensorium include: 3D cinema, rapid prototyping, data visualization, locative media, virtual and immersive environments, interface and interaction design, artificial intelligence, technologically-mediated performance, physical computing and networked media architecture.  The impact of digital technologies on the creative knowledge industries is a central research axis.  Sensorium serves as a catalyst for new ideas and experimentation, linking creative expertise and labs in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance, and Design, fostering collaborative research, and encouraging community and industry partnerships.

Canadian Consortium for Performance and Politics in the Americas


The Canadian Consortium for Performance and Politics in the Americas is a network of Canadian performance studies scholars with other scholars and artists in the Americas working at the intersection of performance and politics; this is a join venture with the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics at New York University.  The Consortium is funded by SSHRC and CFI grants, and York University is an institutional partner for this research project.

DisPerSion Lab


The DIStributed PERformance and Sensorial ImmerSION Lab is dedicated to research-creation projects which examine questions surrounding instrumental and gestural expression, embodied perception, time consciousness and performative agency in the context of envisioning new forms of interdisciplinary creative practice.  The lab space is defined by an environment suffused with reactive, intelligent digital media within which to explore new forms of artistic expression, and new insights into how we sense, process and interact with the performing arts in the post/digital age.  The lab culture is defined by improvised inquiry and exploration of distributed creativity through music and movement-based performance practices that are mediated by contexts such as the physical distribution of performers across internet-based networks, and distribution of creative decisions between human performers and "artificially creative" computational agents.

All I's on Education: Imagination, Integration, Innovation


All I's on Education: Imagination, Integration, Innovation is both a research and professional development project that took place in ten Ontario school boards in the 2014-2015 school year.  Teachers, principals and researchers investigated how teaching could be enhanced by inventive, integrated pedagogy supported by technology.  Together, these teams developed inquiry projects that integrated math, science, and the arts (dance, drama, music, visual arts) with the support of technology.

The focus was on imaginative, integrated and innovative inquiry (what we are now calling "3i teaching") that helped teachers and students select and work artistically with common concepts, contexts, ideas, and insights garnered through the project in order to achieve greater innovation within Ontario education and beyond.

The ten Ontario schools involved in All I's on Education: Imagination, Integration, Innovation represented a wide cross-section of Ontario education.  They were urban, rural, suburban; French, English; public, Catholic; elementary, secondary; and included First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students and communities.

Specifically, the participating district school boards and schools were:

  • Bluewater District School Board - École Élémentaire Macphail Memorial Elementary School
  • Conseil scolaire Viamond - École Élémentaire La Fontaine
  • Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board - St. Conelius Catholic Elementary School
  • Greater Essex County District School Board - General Brock Public School
  • Halton District School Board - Irma Coulson Public School
  • Lakehead District School Board - Armstrong Public School
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board - Madonna Catholic Secondary School
  • Toronto District School Board - Runnymede Collegiate Institute
  • Trillium Lakelands District School Board - Archie Stouffer Elementary School
  • Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board - St. Pius X Catholic Elementary School

In All I's On Education, teachers are the Voices of Imaginative, Integrated and Innovative Practitioners (Vi3Ps).  Teachers have been encouraged to tell the stories of their teacher identities, their practices, their relationships to the Ontario curriculum, their risk-taking and their experiences in diverse Ontario classrooms.  Their voices are honoured as they work collaboratively and creatively to develop imaginative, integrated and innovative pedagogy.

All I's On Education: Imagination, Integration, Innovation was developed through the Council of Ontario Directors of Education and funded by Ontario Ministry of Education.  It is housed at the Faculty of Education at York University.

For any inquiries, please email vi3p@edu.yorku.ca