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Guidelines for Ranking Session Proposals
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Bodies at Work: Performance, Labor, and ATHE @ 30

August 11-14, 2016 | Chicago, Illinois | Palmer House Hilton

Guidelines for Ranking Focus Group Session Proposals and Multidisciplinary Session Proposals
(Please note multiple changes from last year’s process.)

This year we are streamlining the proposal ranking process for both single Focus Group (FG) proposals and Multidisciplinary (MD) proposals. The instructions for FG and MD ranking are here in this document. In recent years, groups have been asked to send ATHE staff numerical rankings AND qualitative reviews of each proposal (A, B, C, etc.). The letter grades resulted in confusion. The discrepancies between how groups noted their grades and rankings made it very difficult for our staff to interpret the information submitted—especially for MD sessions. Here is how we will proceed this year:

Evaluating Your Proposals and Conveying Your Priorities For Proposal Acceptance to ATHE:

  1. Four additional documents were sent along with this instruction sheet. Two of them contain the actual proposals that listed your focus group as a sponsor: your single-focus-group proposals and your MD proposals, respectively. The other two documents are your ranking sheets that you send back to us: one for single-FG sessions and one for MD sessions.

  2. Send the proposals and ranking sheets to your FG’s individual reviewers. Ask each individual reviewer to send back rankings in numerical order, with first priority for scheduling indicated as number 1 and so on. Please send individual reviewers this document, too, so they understand the process. You are welcome to send any additional prompts about what you would like your group’s specific reviewers to value as they rank sessions: rubrics, copies of your group’s CFP, etc. We have included the ATHE 2016 theme statement at the bottom of this document; each FG can decide whether to insist that all proposals relate to that theme. The 2016 Committee does not insist that all proposals directly reflect the theme.

  3. Once the individual reviewers send you their rankings, FG leaders should take the averages to determine your FG’s overall rankings. Occasionally someone will take averages but forget that the highest priorities will have the lowest numerical rankings; please watch out for that.

  4. FG CPs, please send back to ATHE Conference Coordinator Erin Babarskis TWO (2) sets of overall numerical rankings only: 1) one set of overall numerical rankings for the FG sessions, and 2) one set of overall numerical rankings for the MD sessions that mentioned your focus group as a sponsor. For each ranking sheet, the proposal assigned number 1 will be considered your group’s FIRST priority for scheduling, and so on. Any FG or MD rankings sent back to us in a format other than a unified list indicating priorities of 1, 2, 3, 4 will be returned to the FG for resubmission.

Additional Notes and Information:

  1. This year we have continued the policy of requiring two (2) sponsoring Focus Groups and/or Committees for a proposal to qualify as Multidisciplinary. Of course, we also still encourage proposals that include participants from three or more Focus Groups/Committees.

  2. Some questions you might consider as you rank MD sessions: Does this MD proposal cover a range of FG and/or Committee interests, or do you think it is better suited to sponsorship by a single FG or Committee? [Note: If you feel the proposal is better suited to single submission, please contact the other sponsoring FGCPs/Committee Chairs and the person submitting the proposal. It may be appropriate to shift the nature of the proposal.] Does this MD proposal provoke interesting questions or challenge assumed knowledge by creating a dialogue between FGs and/or Committees?

  3. The Conference Committee will assign three or more of its members to review MD proposals and the rankings submitted by the focus groups. Sessions with high rankings and scores from two sponsoring groups will receive priority consideration. Sessions that take a creative, innovative approach to the standard session/panel model may also receive priority consideration.

  4. A focus group has the option of not assigning a numerical ranking to a particular session but instead assigning “R” (reject) for that session. If a FG or Committee assigns "R" to a session OR leaves a session unranked, the committee will probably not schedule the session, unless it is an MD session and another focus group has given that session a very high ranking (in which case the MD subcommittee will review the proposal more carefully to decide what should happen next). FGCPs and Committee Chairs should feel free to reject sessions for which they were not contacted for sponsorship in advance or which they feel do not represent the interests of their members. FGCPs and Committee Chairs should remember that, for MD proposals, a session given a lower ranking by your FG or Committee might be scheduled over your favored sessions if other sponsors give it high priority rankings.

  5. Decisions about how many sessions to schedule automatically from each focus group are made by ATHE Staff in collaboration with the Conference Committee, taking into account the total number of available rooms at the conference site. Other factors may be taken into consideration as we fill miscellaneous remaining schedule slots: AV capabilities in remaining rooms, a session’s relevance to ATHE’s strategic plan, etc.

  6. Proposals for pre-conference sessions are not ranked as part of this process. This process ranks only proposals requiring spaces during the main conference.

Questions can be directed to VP for Conference 2016, Kelly Howe, at

2016 ATHE Conference Theme Statement

ATHE’s 30th anniversary returns us to vital, beautiful, complicated Chicago. The setting for Lorraine Hansberry’s legendary Raisin in the Sun, birthplace of Second City’s improvisational comedy, current home to an astonishingly diverse array of theatre—our 2016 host city lands us squarely in the midst of multiple, overlapping theatrical histories. But theatre is not the only kind of performance Chicago calls us to examine. Given this industrial hub’s identity as a site of pivotal labor struggles, our 30th anniversary conference committee especially invites you to examine performance as labor and labor as performance.

How does performance help us understand bodies at work, inside and outside theatre? How have theatre and performance historically put bodies to work, for better and for worse? How are bodies disciplined by routines of theatrical labor—or routines of teaching and learning? How can we understand different modes of labor as performances? How do we engage both the pleasure and precarity of bodies at work? How might we choreograph new ways of working?

Given the intense push to assess every aspect of higher education, how do we hold on to an improvisational spirit in our classroom labor? What are ATHE’s responsibilities and opportunities in the context of the academic adjunct labor crisis (or in the context of professional theatre’s increasing reliance on unpaid internship labor)? What does it mean to put bodies on the line in theatre and higher education? Whose bodies end up disproportionately on the line? Whose bodies end up doing disproportionate labor for academic departments, institutional committees, and arts organizations? Whose bodies tend to be selected for work opportunities in the theatre and whose do not? How might the frame Bodies at Work help us consider the politics of casting and other hiring practices? Taking another local cue from Chicago’s dynamic Bodies of Work, a disability arts and culture network, we also ask: what are the particular labors of disabled bodies onstage and off?

How does the analytic frame of performance help us better understand past and present labor atrocities that have shaped our current national and international economic systems (slavery, human trafficking, exploitation of undocumented workers, etc.)? How have the labor unions of our field(s) shaped our work? How can theatre and performance help us act toward more just labor practices in theatre, higher education, and beyond? How can theatre and performance help us imagine a world in which the centrality of work might be otherwise?

As ATHE and Black Theatre Network (BTN) plan to celebrate the same 30-year milestone in Chicago in 2016, stay tuned for more information on how we’ll work to link the conferences and efforts of both organizations. Through co-sponsored events, panels, roundtables, and performances, we hope to consider future possibilities and responsibilities, particularly in the areas of valuation and distribution of labor across organizations, publications, and platforms. We hope to encourage exchanges that support active involvement in both organizations. As we reflect on bodies of/at work, what do we learn that can help prepare us for the labors to come? How can we meet those challenges or reimagine our future labors in ways that are inclusive and sustainable?

ATHE Committee and Focus Group Abbreviations:

Advocacy (ADV)
Awards (AWD)
Electronic Technology (ETC)
Membership & Marketing (MM)
Professional Development (PDC)
Research and Publications (RPC)
Strategic Planning (SPC)

Focus Groups (FG):
Acting Program (AP)
American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS)
Association for Asian Performance (AAP)
Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME)
Black Theatre Association (BTA)
Design, Technology and Management (DTM)
Directing Program (DP)
Dramaturgy Program (DR)
Latina/o Focus Group (LFG)
Music Theatre/Dance (MT/D)
Performance Studies Focus Group (PSFG)
Playwrights and Creative Teams (PACT)
Religion and Theatre (R&T)
Senior Theatre Research and Performance (STRP)
Theatre and Social Change (TASC)
Theatre as a Liberal Art (TLA)
Theatre History (TH)
Theory and Criticism (TC)
Two-Year College Program (TYCP)
Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA)
Women and Theatre Program (WTP)

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