news, updates, and conversations from Volcano Theatre

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Hungry for CONTENT

inFORMING CONTENT: exploring contemporary theatre creation
Lectures: May 3, 7-9PM
Performances: May 5, 3-6PM

inFORMING CONTENT has one core goal: to introduce our theatre community to new ways of constructing performance. At Volcano, we're passionate about using insights from academics and real world sources to stimulate the storytelling process, and it has driven some of our most incredible experiences in new play creation (check out Another Africa as just one example).

Still Life with Winter Vista, Iain Baxter&.
Featured in Bread and Butter, an installation
at the Jackman Humanities Institute.
The Jackman Humanities Institute is full of brilliant minds from all kinds of disciplines. The 2012/13 Fellows were all selected because they're working on projects relevant to the Institute's current theme: FOOD (yeah, we're loving this).

Food is a basic human need: it shapes desires and gives all kinds of pleasure. From a Humanities perspective, food can be explored from all kinds of diverse perspectives: both as an object produced and consumed, and as a means and symbol of our human relations. The diversity of what we eat (or don't eat) and how we produce and share it shapes cultures, communities, nations, and empires.

Six academics, including Jackman Fellows and U of T Scholars, will be presenting on topics related to the focus issue, and their research will inspire our inFORMING CONTENT artists to create experimental new works in response. Here are the incredible minds we're working with this year:

Stacy Jameson
Postdoctoral fellow in Cultural Studies
There's the Puking, There's the Gagging: Television Encounters with Foreign Food
This talk will explore the ideological implications of "gross" food competitions on American reality television shows, principally Survivor.  It will consider the ways in which displays of disgust at "foreign" food condense narratives about natural physical reflex with ideas about nationality and ethnicity.  Contestants on the show play native, acting out an imagined primitive life of subsistence.  Within this frame, the eating spectacles of the show construct a model of "protective gagging."  Survivor presents a spectacle that aligns the innate functions of the body (in this case the gag that protects the body from contamination and harm) with social and cultural distinctions, thus making Other peoples and foods appear naturally and unavoidably "primitive," "gross," and even "dangerous."

Mathura Sabanayagam
Undergrad fellow double majoring in English & Human Biology
The Life Force of Pasta Alfredo and Ice Cream: Food in Contemporary Breast Cancer Narratives
In this talk, I will discuss representations of food in two contemporary breast cancer narratives: Cancer in Two Voices by Barbara Rosenblum and Sandra Butler and Ordinary Life: A Memoir of Illness by Kathlyn Conway. Food imagery abounds in these two narratives, whether it is a special childhood meal shared with family and friends or the bland hospital food provided to patients following a surgery. Exploring four key themes centred on food and healing which emerge in these two "autopathographies," I will discuss how food represents a productive literary avenue through which women can explore and articulate their experiences with breast cancer. I will conclude by speculating on several of the broader questions which arise from this research (what does one gain by telling the story of illness through food? what can be learned through the study of illness narratives?) and by exploring the contemporary relevance of this topic to the worlds of food studies, medicine, and literature.

Xóchitl Ruiz
Postdoctoral fellow in Anthropology
Fava Beans and Peanuts: work and social support on a street corner in Bogatá
This presentation focuses on work and life of Señora Ricarda, a street vendor who sold fava beans and peanuts on the same street corner for 48 years. While Señora Ricarda was able to nourish her household through her work selling these foods, many of her encounters with long-term clients were transformed into other channels of social, nutritional, and economic support, including gifts of food, clothes, money, and friendship. Through the course of her years as a vendor, Señora Ricarda also experienced the changes in the neighborhood along with its residents; she experienced the fluctuations in currency and the devaluation of the Colombian peso alongside them; she saw neighborhood children grow up to become adults, and experienced the transformation of the capital and the country in relation to that street corner and her clients.

Erica Allen-Kim 
Postdoctoral fellow in Architecture
Building Saigon Nationalism
I examine how architectural interventions embody contested imaginings of Vietnamese American identity. I focus on two key moments when anxieties about assimilation and the refugee community’s position in transnational politics were spatialized: the controversy over a pedestrian walkway, Harmony Bridge, and the creation of the first Vietnam War memorial by Vietnamese Americans depicting both South Vietnamese and American military.

Aldea Mulhern
PhD candidate in Religion
Meals that Matter: imaginings of 'progressive' Jewish and Muslim food in Toronto
In a break with tradition, a group of socially and ecologically liberal Jews wondered whether they might join up with local Muslims and purchase organic, grass-fed cattle to slaughter for meat. I hope to tease out the implications of this moment by considering the relevant food laws and interpretive precedents in order to argue for increased attention to the imaginative dimension of constructions of self, another, and the other, and to note how religion is deployed as a concept under which certain differences can be relativized in order to further particular agendas of similarity.
inFORMING CONTENT is a FREE EVENT for audiences and for participants! RSVP here to attend the Jackman Fellows presentations on May 3, and RSVP here to see the performances on May 5.

If you're an artist who'd like to be part of the creation, visit our website and register today.

Debbie Pearson addresses the audience
and participants of inFORMING CONTENT 2013

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