The Canadian Association for Theatre Research has, since its inception, been the principal catalyst for expansion of theatre research in Canada. The Association works to promote research and publication of the results of this research into Canadian theatre and drama. Every year, CATR announces the results of awards for innovative and forward thinking research into theatre and drama in Canada.
Dr. Natalie Alvarez, associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University was recently awarded the Richard Plant Award by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research for her essay “Realisms of Redress: Alameda Theatre and the Formation of a Latina/o Canadian Theatre and Politics”. This essay, published in New Canadian Realisms: New Essays on Canadian Theatre edited by Roberta Baker and Kim Solga, digs deeply into the pressing practical and scholarly debates concerning racial embodiment on Canadian stages. It is grounded in a rich historical survey of policies, practices and theoretic debates on identity and casting that have shaped Canadian theatre practice. Her arguments draw from the perspective of a Latina/o Canadian theatre culture in formation, particularly as demonstrated by the distinctive casting practices of Toronto’s Alameda Theatre that seek a repressive realism. Professor Alvarez provocatively argues for the potential of an indexical realism to build the foundation for a more viable realism of redress.
At the 2013 Congress, Alvarez’s two edited books on Latina/o Canadian theatre and performance Fronteras Viventes: Eight Latina/o Canadian Plays and Latina/o Canadian Theatre and Performance were launched at the annual Playwrights Canada Press luncheon. These books are the first collections on Latina/o Canadian theatre and performance and engage in a cross-border dialogue with prominent and emerging US and Canadian scholars who take a hemispheric perspective in their examinations of Canadian “Latinidad.”
Professor Alvarez has been busy the last few years traveling for her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded research project in performance studies which investigates live, immersive simulations in a variety of contexts. In her investigation into the emergence of “dark-tourism”, Alvarez has observed interactions between soldiers and Afgan actors in mock Afgan villages constructed for the final phase of intensive training. She also spent a week in the Utah mountains at an immersive “insurgent training camp” for US military and law enforcement personnel. She presented her research findings at the 2011 American Society of Theatre Research in Montreal in a working session on war and war-time performance. Prior to 2011, Alvarez’s proposal on the illegal border crossing reenactments for tourists in El Alberto, Mexico was selected for the American Society of Theatre Research’s opening plenary panel at the 2009 conference in Puerto Rico.
The Department of Dramatic Arts congratulates Professor Alvarez for her award and looks forward to the new knowledge and experiences she will share with the students when she rejoins the department in July 2014.