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Bruce Barton

  • Director
  • Professor

Biography

Bruce Barton is a performance maker and research/creation scholar located in Calgary, Alberta. His stage and radio plays have been produced across Canada, celebrated with regional and national awards, and anthologized. He works extensively as a director, playwright, dramaturg, and designer with numerous devising and intermedial performance companies across Canada and internationally. He is also the Artistic Director of Vertical City, an interdisciplinary performance hub. Recent Vertical City projects include 2YouTopia (Toronto's Nuit Blanch 2014), All Good Things (Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax 2013-14), and the award-winning Trace (Toronto 2014).

Bruce has published in a wide range of peer-reviewed and professional periodicals, including Performance Research, TDR, Theatre Journal, Theatre Topics, Theatre Research in Canada, and Canadian Theatre Review. He is a former general editor of Theatre Research in Canada and has several times been issue co-editor of Canadian Theatre Review ("Theatrical Devising," "Memory," "Dance and Movement Dramaturgy"). He has contributed articles to several international essay collections and is the author or editor/contributor of seven books, including At the Intersection Between Art and Research (2010), and Collective Creation, Collaboration and Devising (2008).

Bruce is a core member of Performance as Research Working Groups of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR/FIRT) and the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), as well as a founding member of the Artistic Research Study Circle of the Nordic Summer University (NSU). He is also the co-ordinator of the Articulating Artistic Research Seminar at the Canadian Association for Theatre Research, which he began in 2012. Bruce has also been a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada for over 15 years.

Recent international keynote/plenary presentations include “Engineered Affect in Posthuman Performance: Vertical City’s YouTopia” at the 2014 ASTR conference in Baltimore, MD, and “Interactual Dramaturgy: Interdisciplinary Strategies for Collaborative Performance Creation” at the VIII Congresso da ABRACE (2014) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bruce’s interdisciplinary orientation runs deep: he holds two Bachelor degrees, one in Literature and one in Fine Arts (Painting) from the University of Guelph. His Masters degree, also from the University of Guelph, is in Drama, and he received his Doctorate in Theatre and Film from the University of Toronto. Bruce taught performance creation, dramaturgy, intermedial performance, and practice-based research at the University of Toronto between 2001 and 2014. In January 2015 he became the first Director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary. 

Research

Jump to Current Research Projects, Publications or Creative Practice

  • Dramaturgy (Text-based and Physical Performance)
  • Performance Creation and Devising
  • Practice-Based Research
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Intermediality in Theatre and Performance

Current Research Projects

1. "At the Intersection of Interpretation and Affect in Interdisciplinary Performance" A multiyear SSHRC-funded research project exploring the possibilities of/for/in intimacy in interdisciplinary performance. The research employs theories of theatricality, performativity, and affect theory in a practice-based research methodological framework. Collaborators include Eve Egoyan (composer and musician), Sherri Hay (visual, media, and installation artist), Stephanie Tremblay Abubu (dancer), Pil Hansen (dramaturg), and Bruce Barton (director and writer).

2. "'How the Doing is Done': Canadian Physical Dramaturgies" A multiyear SSHRC-funded research project on modes of exchange and collaboration in physically-based and devised theatre contexts. Involves international literature review, six in-depth, practice-based case studies from across Canada, and a one-week "Performance Lab" with member companies of Vancouver's Progress Lab association of theatre practitioners. Goals: theoretical articulation of "inter/actual" approach to dramaturgical practice and a conceptual vocabulary of direct utility to devised theatre practitioners.

Publications

Books

At the Intersection Between Art and Research: Practice-Based Research in the Performing Arts. Malmö, Sweden: NSU Press, 2010. (co-editors: Carsten Friberg and Rose Parekh-Gaihede)

Developing Nation: New Play Creation in Canada. Essay Collection. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2009.

Collective Creation, Collaboration, and Devising. Volume 12, Critical Perspectives on Canadian Theatre in English. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2008.

Reluctant Texts from Exuberant Performance: Canadian Devised Theatre. Volume 9, New Canadian Drama. Co-Editors: Birgit Schreyer, Natalie Corbett, & Keren Zaiontz. Ottawa: Borealis Press, 2008.

Imagination in Transition: Mamet’s Move to Film. Brussels: Peter Lang, 2005.

Online Essay Collections

Mediating Practice(s): Performance as Research and/in/through Mediation. Experiments and Intensities Series. Winchester, UK: University of Winchester Press. 2013. (co-curators: Melanie Dreyer-Lude and Anna Birch)

Journal Issues (as Editor and Contributor)

Canadian Theatre Review 155 (Summer 2013): "Dance and Movement Dramaturgy." (co-editors Pil Hansen and Darcey Callison).

Theatre Research in Canada 32.2 (2011): "Theatre and Intermediality." (co-editor: Bruce Kirkley).

Canadian Theatre Review 145 (Winter 2011): "Memory." (co-editor: Pil Hansen).

Canadian Theatre Review 135 (Summer 2008): "Theatrical Devising." (co-editor: Ker Wells).

Articles 

(Selected, since 2008)

"Interactual Dramaturgy: Intention and Affect in Interdisciplinary Performance." The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy. Ed. Magda Romanska. London: Routledge, 2015. (179-85)

"Performing the Paradox of Affect and Interpretation: Turbulence in Vertical City." Performance Research. 19.5 (2014): 59-66.

"Subtle Spectacle: Risking Theatricality with Vertical City." About Performance 12 (2014): 103-25.

"New Betrayals: Intimacy in Mediatized Performance." In Mediating Practice(s): Performance as Research and/in/through Mediation. Ed. Bruce Barton, Melanie Dreyer-Lude and Anna Birch. Experiments and Intensities Series. University of Winchester Press. 2013.
http://www.experimentsandintensities.com/published/vol-3/new-betrayals/

"Devising Realisms." In New Essays in Canadian Theatre Vol. 2: New Canadian Realisms. Ed. Roberta Barker and Kim Solga. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press. 2012. 124-43. (co-authors: Evan Webber and Alex McLean)

"Immersive Negotiations: Binaural Perspectives on Site-Specific Sound." In Performing Site-Specific Theatre. Ed. Joanne Tompkins and Anna Birch. Palgrave MacMillan, 2012. 182-200. (co-author: Richard Windeyer)

"Bullet-Time, Becoming, and the Sway of Theatricality: Performance and Play in The Matrix." In Stages of Reality: Theatricality in Cinema. Ed. André Loiselle and Jeremy Maron. U of Toronto P, 2012.

"Coherent Confusion and Intentional Accidents: bluemouth inc.’s Dance Marathon." Theatre Research in Canada. 32.2 (2011): 241-52.

"Intimacy." Mapping Intermediality in Performance. Ed. Sarah Bay-Cheng, Chiel Kattenbelt, Andy Lavender, and Robin Nelson. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2010. 46.

"Paradox as Process: Intermedial Anxiety and the Betrayals of Intimacy." Theatre Journal 61.4 (2010): 575-601.

"'Stop Looking at Your Feet': bluemouth’s Dance Marathon and Inter/Actual Dramaturgy," Performance Research 14.3 (2010): 13-27.

"Research-Based Practice: Situating Vertical City between Artistic Development and Applied Cognitive Science," TDR: The Drama Review 53.4 (2009): 120-36. (co-author: Pil Hansen)

"Subjectivity<>Culture<>Communications<>Intermedia: a meditation on the ‘impure interactions’ of performance and the ‘in-between’ space of intimacy in a wired world.” Theatre Research in Canada 29.1 (2007, published 2008): 51-92.

Seminars (as Organizer)

May 15 "Articulating Artistic Research 3.0: Ideas of Knowledge." Canadian Association for Theatre Research, Ottawa, ON. With Natalia Esling.

May 14 "Articulating Artistic Research." Canadian Association for Theatre Research, St. Catherines, ON.

May 13 "'Talking and Walking’: PBR/PaR Design, Methodology, Articulation." Canadian Association for Theatre Research, Victoria, BC.

Papers Presented (since 2008)

Nov. 14 "Engineered Affect in Posthuman Performance: Vertical City’s YouTopia." Plenary, American Society for Theatre Research, Baltimore, MD.

Nov. 14 "Interpretation and Affect in Micro Performance." Performance as Research Working Group, American Society for Theatre Research, Baltimore, MD.

Oct. 14 "Interactual Dramaturgy: Interdisciplinary Strategies for Collaborative Performance Creation." VIII Congresso da ABRACE, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Nov. 13 "'Hang On': Disrupting and Disruptive Intimacy in All Good Things." Performance as Research Working Group, American Society for Theatre Research, Dallas, TX.

July 13 "Echoes of YouTopia: Intermedial Intimacy." Performance as Research Working Group, International Federation for Theatre Research, Barcelona, Spain.

Nov. 12 "New Betrayals: Intimacy in Mediatized Performance." Performance As Research Working Group, American Society for Theatre Research, Nashville, TN.

Aug. 12 "From Understanding to Experience: Intimacy in Mediatized Performance." Performance as Research Working Group, International International Federation for Theatre Research, Santiago de Chile.

June 12 "Auditory Manipulation and/as Economic Contention: Site-Specific Sound Design." Performance Studies international, Leeds, UK.

May 12 "Losing Boundaries, Finding Ways: Practice-Based Research at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies." Canadian Association for Theatre Research, Waterloo, ON.

May 12 "Seeking Balance While Taking a Stance: Devising, Ethics, and Affect." Canadian Association for Theatre Research, Waterloo, ON. (with Alex McLean, Ker Wells, and Evan Webber.)

Feb. 12 "'Navigating Interactuality’: PBR Positioning." Nordic Summer University, Helsinki, Finland.

Nov. 11 "Praxis in Practice: PBR at the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama" Performance as Research Working Group, American Society for Theatre Research, Montreal, QC.

Nov. 10 "Articulating Interactuality." Performance As Research Working Group, American Society for Theatre Research, Seattle, WA.

July 10 "Embodying Mediated Autobiography." Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Los Angeles, CA. With Pil Hansen.

June 10 "'How the Doing is Done’: Research-Based Practice." Performance Studies international, Toronto, ON.

May 10 "Navigating Memory: Dramaturgical Strategies and Swimmer (68)." Canadian Association for Theatre Research, Montreal, QC.

May. 09 "Dancing Between Theatre and Performance: Inter-Actual Dramaturgy with bluemouth inc." Canadian Association for Theatre Research, Ottawa, ON.

Nov. 08 "Situating Vertical City between practice-based research and applied cognitive science." Performance As Research Working Group, American Society for Theatre Research, Boston, MA.

Nov. 08 "The intimate ‘in-betweens’ of intermedial interdisciplinarity: bodies, modalities, disciplines." Performance Studies International, Copenhagen, Denmark.)

May 08 "Running Away from the Circus: Confronting Habit on the Way to Vertical City." Association for Canadian Theatre Research, Vancouver, BC.

May 08 "Bullet-Time, Becoming, and the Triumph of Theatricality." Film Studies Association of Canada, Vancouver, BC.

Feb. 08 "PBR and the Productivity of Artistic and Academic Exchange." Practice-Based Research in the Performing Arts, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Creative Practice (Current and Recent Projects)

As Director and Playwright:

2YouTopia. A Vertical City Performance. Toronto City Hall, Nuit Blanche. October 2014.

Trace. A Vertical City Performance. SummerWorks Festival, Toronto. August 2014.

All Good Things. A Vertical City Performance. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto. February 2013, and Boca del Lupo Theatre Micro Performance Series, Vancouver, June 2014.

YouTopia. A Vertical City Performance. Glen Morris Studio Theatre, Toronto. September 2013.

As Director

The Rogue Show. Kaeja d’Dance. Dovercourt House, Toronto. April 2014.

Swimmer (68). Solo devising project co-created with Ker Wells. Hopscotch Collective. Glen Morris Studio Theatre, Toronto. May 2011.

As Playwright

Supers. A Vertical City / Zuppa Theatre collaboration. In development, Banff (AB) Playwrights Colony (March-April 2015) and Halifax, NS. July 2015.

As Dramaturg

Foreign Radical. Theatre Conspiracy. Written by Timothy Carlson, with the company. The Cultch, Vancouver, BC. April 2015.

.0. Kaeja d’Dance production. Choreographed by Allen Kaeja. Enwave Theatre (Next Steps Series) Toronto, ON. March 2015.

STAY (A)WAKE. bluemouth inc. production. Created by the company. SummerWorks, Toronto. August 2013.

X-ODUS.  Kaeja d’Dance production. Choreography by Allen Kaeja. NextSteps Program, Harbourfront Performing Arts, Toronto. May 2013.

Under Wraps. Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland production: By Robert Chafe. Directed by Jillian Keiley. LSPU Hall, St. John’s, NF. May 2013.

The Sacrifice Zone. Theatre Gargantua production. By Suzie Miller and the Company. Directed by Jacquie P. A. Thomas. Factory Theatre, Toronto. November 2012.

Imprints. Theatre Gargantua production. By Michael Spence. Directed by Jacquie P. A. Thomas. Factory Theatre, Toronto. November 2011.

Five Easy Steps to the End of the World. Zuppa Theatre production. Created by the company. Directed by Alex McLean. Magnetic North Theatre Festival, Ottawa. June 2011.

Poor Boy. Zuppa Theatre production. Created by the company. Directed by Alex McLean. Neptune Studio Theatre, Halifax. March 2009.

Dance Marathon. bluemouth inc. production. Created by the company. Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Performing Arts, Toronto.
February 2009.

Teaching

Bruce began university teaching in 1988 and has been a faculty member at the University of Guelph (ON), McMaster University (ON), Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Prince Edward Island, and Dalhousie University (NS). Between 2001 and 2014, Bruce taught performance creation, dramaturgy, intermedial performance, and practice-based research at the University of Toronto with the undergraduate Theatre and Drama Studies program and the graduate Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies.

In Fall 2015 Bruce will teach Drama 560: Performance Creation III with the Division of Drama in the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Photograph of Bruce Barton
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