Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) — Special Issue: Anti-Racist Training (to be published September 2025)

Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors

Guest Editors

Broderick Chow ([email protected])

Samia La Virgne ([email protected])

Training Grounds Editor

Lauryn Pinard ([email protected])

Anti-Racist Training (Issue 16.3)

The drive towards becoming “anti-racist” institutions or practitioners has taken on renewed energy in recent years. In 2020, responding to alleged and substantiated claims of abuse, discrimination and oppression spanning decades, theatres and institutions of theatre and performance training seemingly acknowledged the systemic racism that underpins the field. Action plans were put in place, committees were formed, and policies were drafted and approved. The question, however, of whether theatre, dance, and performance training itself has moved towards becoming anti-racist, or even what anti-racist training is, remains unsettled.

In 1990, Paul Gilroy suggested that “there is a crisis of the political language, images and cultural symbols which [the anti-racist movement] needs in order to develop its self-consciousness and its political programme. This problem with the language of anti-racism is acutely expressed by the lack of clarity that surrounds the term ‘anti-racism’ itself” (1990: 72). This leads to anti-racist actions being seen as ineffectual or at worst, patronising and infantilising. In theatre and performance education and training—as in everyday life—the specificity of racial oppression often becomes an “add-on” to a wider conversation on equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. If, as Ramon Grosfoguel states, racism is “ a global hierarchy of superiority and inferiority along the line of the human” (2016: 10), any training that claims to be “anti-racist” must reckon with what Sylvia Wynter (2003) defines as the “coloniality of being/truth/freedom/power”, that is, the ideological project of defining Western “Man” against indigenous, Black, Global Majority and subaltern peoples that emerged with the European empires’ colonization of the “New World.” Efforts to “decolonize” or “decentre” the field, as Royona Mitra (2019) and Swati Arora (2021), among others, have pointed out, often adopt an “additive” approach, which “does not aim at structural change but works within it” (Arora 2021: 13). As the 2020 open letter “White Colleague Listen!*” suggests, theatre and performance has traditionally privileged colonial knowledge systems and therefore, this produces both racist pedagogical and epistemological structures and racism in everyday interactions in rehearsal studios, classrooms, and corridors.

The aim of this special issue is to examine different perspectives on what an anti-racist  theatre, dance, and performance training might be. It seeks to:

  • Explore various ways anti-racist concepts and practices are embodied in contemporary theatre, dance, and performance training.
  • Build/construct understandings of developed and developing anti-racist performance praxis.
  • Provoke conversations that challenge and contest traditional Western hegemonic performance practice methodologies.
  • Debate what new forms of anti-racist practice might emerge and how they can be sustained.
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