Diversities in gender and sexuality II: Gender minoritization in contemporary theatre practice

Diversities in gender and sexuality II: Gender minoritization in contemporary theatre practice


This video features Kelsy’s exploration of gender inequity in contemporary Canadian theatre practice and performance, including discussions of 1) the realities of LGBTQ theatre practioners, 2) the absence of critical appraisal of historical plays when staging gender in the present, and 3) the need to make our places of learning and training open to the realities of gender ‘non-conforming’ persons.

Histories of representation of gender in the theatre, by Kelsy Vivash, performance maker and PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance studies

Kelsy Vivash


Kelsy Vivash holds a BA from Brock University and an MA from the University of Toronto, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies.  Her doctoral research focuses on the secretions and excretions of the body, the long lineage of their relationship with understandings of subjectivity, and the ways in which this relationship has been aestheticized both on historical stages and within the contemporary performative frame.  She has presented at TaPRA (University of Kent, 2012), PSi (Stanford University, 2013), and CATR (Brock University, 2014), and has recently published work in Alt.theatre, Performance Research, Canadian Theatre Review, and Theatre Research in Canada.





  1. Contemporary representations of historical texts have the ability to subvert problematic gender minoritization practices, but without careful attention, one may instead easily promote stereotypical prejudices. How can contemporary theatre practices promote positive (and thus diverse) representations of gender, and how might companies include in such stagings actors that do not identity with traditional gender binaries?
  2. Kelsy suggests that “without careful attention to the politics being presented […] training bodies to perform in historical roles can become an exclusionary practice.” In such moments, the experiences of actors that exist outside of the traditional and inherited gender binary/hierachy of ‘man/woman’ are often negated. How can post-secondary institutions create and maintain inclusive and all-encompassing training mandates that embrace diverse gender identities? Can embracing this diversity open the doors to more interesting representations of historical texts?
  3. The performance art community offers a valuable platform for gender non-conforming artists to “enact self-representations and share embodied experiences with spectators.” How might post-secondary training cultivate artists who have the foundation to inhabit roles and performances that reveal and embrace complex gender identities?
  4. When considering acting training, we must be continually mindful about whose work we are promoting. What resources can we use to displace and subvert outdated gendered representations when staging plays that would otherwise promote these?
  5. In what ways can we work from our own gender position to explore and accurately represent voices of minoritized groups that are regularly silenced? How can theatre training create the platform to support women, trans, and gender non-conforming artists to showcase work that accurately represents and expresses their lived experiences?

Hansen, Nicholas and Alexa Elser.  “Equity and the Academy: An Examination of Artistic Programming at Post-Secondary Institutions.”  Staging Equity. 2015.  Web.  June 9th, 2015.

MacArthur, Michelle.  “Achieving Equity in Canadian Theatre: A Report with Best Practice Recommendations.”  Equity in Theatre.  2015.  Web.  June 7th, 2015.

For more information about Equity in Theatre:www.eit.playwrightsguild.ca

For more information on Urban Curvz:  www.urbancurvz.com

For more information on Lazlo Pearlman:  www.lazlopearlman.com

For more information on Jess Dobkin:  www.Jessdobkin.com

For more information on Alumnae Theatre:  www.alumnaetheatre.com


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