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Each year, members of the Black Theatre Association gather at the Annual Conference of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. In addition to conducting business at our annual Membership Meeting, we present our scholarship, discuss issues related to the practice and teaching of black theatre, socialize and support one another’s work. Please visit ATHE's Conferences page for more information about attending and participating in an upcoming conference. For more information about BTA's activities during ATHE's annual conference, please BTA Conference Planner Jonathan Nicole Hodges Persley at

Below is BTA's Call for Proposals for ATHE's 2017 conference. T

Black Theatre Association (BTA)
Call for Proposals
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) 2017 Conference
Las Vegas, NV August 3-6, 2017

Submissions Deadlines:

The Black Theatre Association (BTA), a Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), invites complete panel proposals and individual abstracts for ATHE’s 2017 conference:

Spectacle: balancing education, theory, and praxis #ATHE2017OfBreadAndCircuses

In Poetics, Aristotle ranks spectacle last among his six constituent elements of drama, privileging the poetic over the visual, claiming that spectacle “stirs the emotions” yet “is less a matter of art than the others.” (GRUBE) In the millennia since, countless artists and scholars have championed the aesthetics of theatre and stood in defense of spectacle. Nevertheless, a bias persists.

The 2017 ATHE Conference Committee invites you to join us in Las Vegas, Nevada for an examination of the role of spectacle in theatre practice, scholarship, and pedagogy. What opportunities do an emphasis on spectacle present to us as artists, scholars, theorists, and educators? Does a spectacle-driven theatre lead us away from Aristotle’s aims, or do we find that enhanced spectacle serves to support and strengthen plot, character, thought, diction, and music? How have certain bodies been made spectacular? How does the use of spectacle highlight or obscure the politics of performance, representation, and staging? What ethical and political responsibilities must artists, scholars, and activists negotiate when employing spectacle in performance, design, scholarship, and/or dramaturgy?

Las Vegas, as a backdrop, provides us with an opportunity to engage these and other questions. Las Vegas is a manmade oasis — with its sparkling lights and colorful facades — standing in stark contrast to the harsh desert that surrounds it. The self-proclaimed “Entertainment Capital of the World,” the city attracts over 42 million visitors annually. Las Vegas is where a reconstructed Caesar’s Palace stands only steps from a replica Eiffel Tower, the likes of Elvis and the Jersey Boys perform nightly, international circus artists dazzle multiple times a night, and mere mortals like Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez rise to god-like status. In addition to its for-profit theatre scene, Las Vegas has a vibrant nonprofit performing arts community ranging from theatre for young audiences to experimental new works to repertory dance theatre. Eclectic and diverse, this community of artists, both professional and amateur, co-exists and even thrives.

Does what happens in Vegas truly stay in Vegas, or does it have a greater impact on theatrical performances worldwide? Is Vegas an isolated city in the desert, or is Vegas everywhere? Join us at ATHE 2017 to find out.

In light of the the conference theme, "Spectacle: balancing education, theory, and praxis,” BTA is particularly interested in panels and papers that explore black theatre’s engagements with...(TBD)

Black Theatre Association is particularly interested in using conference sessions to examine such topics in ways that go beyond the reading of scholarly papers. We encourage session proposals that include short play readings, performance workshops, networking and mentorship activities, or conversations about pedagogy and the academic profession that engage the conference theme in some way.

Proposers must submit all requests for audiovisual needs, conference grants, or guest passes with proposal submission. Please note: ATHE limits all participants to 2 presentations at each conference.

You can use BTA’s email list to discuss panel ideas with other scholars and artists and to solicit contributors for panel proposals. If you are already a subscriber, send your message directly to To subscribe yourself to the list, send an email to Please also visit BTA’s Facebook page to connect with others and develop session proposals:

Multidisciplinary session proposals for sessions sponsored by a minimum of three (3) ATHE Focus Groups or Committees must have the approval of all sponsoring Focus Groups and/or Committees prior to proposal submission. Anyone proposing a multidisciplinary session for ATHE 2017 must contact all the relevant Conference Planners and/or Committee Chairs for their approval, prior to proposal submission. Contact information can be found on ATHE’s website:

The Black Theatre Association (BTA) is an organization composed of scholars, graduate students, and theatre artists of differing ages, races, colors, genders, national origins, religious beliefs, shapes, and sizes. Our unified interest in the critical study of Black theatre from a global perspective informs our collective desire to inform and promote the experiences of Black people as expressed in various forms of drama and performance.



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