Women and Theatre Program Call for Proposals:

Building from the Rubble, Centering Care


Association for Theatre in Higher Education 2023 Conference

August 3-6, 2023 in Austin, TX



During this summer’s convening in Detroit, Dominique Morisseau challenged both the ATHE leadership and membership to “build from the rubble.” While this year’s gathering— the first in-person conference in two years— marked for many attendees a sense of returning to pre-pandemic times, it also illustrated that in many ways we cannot, and should not, go back to before.


As noted in the statement introducing the theme for the 2023 conference, “We know in our bones that what was “normal” before was inequitable, unsustainable, and uncaring, and we have intractable problems to address as we move forward as an association and in our home institutions.” While there seemed to be moments in the last few years that promised substantive change in dismantling the historically harmful structures of racism, misogyny, heteronormativity, and ableism, among others, a sweeping sociopolitical shift never quite materialized. This, in turn, begs a significant question: have we reached the rubble, or is there more to dismantle? In what ways can we continue to challenge systems of oppression that are meant to maintain the status quo? What are the foundational lessons to learn from the things that remain? And, perhaps most importantly, what exactly is it that we want to create from the rubble?


ATHE’s Call to Action:


This year, the Call for Proposals is a Call to Action. ATHE seeks action-oriented sessions that aim at transforming our individual, interpersonal, and institutional practices to meet the urgent needs of our changing association and field:


  • How do we transform deeply embedded systems that currently center white supremacy culture and transactional ways of knowing and doing?

  • What lessons can we learn from failures of care, "the places where our rhetoric falls flat, where we ran out of steam, or where this shit is genuinely fucking hard" (Piepzna-Samarasinha, 33)?

  • How does ATHE contribute to or reinforce an unsustainable and inequitable system?

  • How are we teaching, modeling, and learning with the spirit of consent, saying “no,” and setting healthy boundaries? How are we supporting and being supported in setting healthy boundaries? And for those who are not, what do you need to do in order to accomplish this?

  • How are we centering the needs and perspectives of Black and Global Majority people in our association, our home institutions, and our classrooms? And for those who are not, what steps must be taken in order to do so?

  • How are we centering the needs of people who are disabled in our association, our home institutions, and our classrooms? And for those who are not, what steps must be taken in order to do so?

  • How are we making our pedagogical, artistic, and knowledge production practices more relevant to the lives of Black and Global Majority students representing a range of intersectional identities? How can we build on the work of historically marginalized scholars, educators and artists to achieve this?

  • What role can affinity spaces play in our association and our field to create spaces in which everyone can engage and fully belong?

  • How is your pedagogy, artistic practices, scholarship, or educational theatre administration part of the project of reshaping our field to be more inclusive and more just?


The Women and Theatre Program wholeheartedly embraces ATHE’s Call to Action. We have the opportunity at this year’s conference to construct the kind of collaborative space that we need in order to thrive as scholars, practitioners, and educators. The goal is to institutionalize hybridity among focus groups, fostering opportunities that allow members from all theatrical disciplines to interface with one another in a meaningful way. Rather than traditional panels and roundtables that tend to reinforce isolation within the larger conference, sessions for 2023 must be participatory, promoting substantive engagement and entanglement as we reconstruct methods of scholarly and artistic exchange.


Proposed sessions might include poster sessions, workshops with participants and facilitators alike listed on the program, “flipped” sessions in which members watch pre-recorded presentations prior to the session and gather for in-person or remote structured discussions, working groups to develop white papers or co-authored essays, roundtables, devised pieces, plays-in-progress, etc.


In addition to the broader questions posed by ATHE, the Women and Theatre Program encourages the creation of innovative and non-traditional formats, and we welcome session proposals that engage with the particular issues and concerns of our field. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • How do we address contemporary issues of precarity for female-identifying artists, scholars, and educators? What are the myriad layers and spaces of this precarity, and what interventions might be possible to address it?

  • What does it mean to make feminist art in a “red” city or state (such as the one in which this conference is being held) that is actively hostile to the rights of women?

  • How do we engage with the notion of “centering care” when female-identifying faculty members are disproportionally viewed as parental surrogates for students, and therefore tasked with shouldering additional emotional burdens?

  • How have feminist theatre artists and scholars historically “buil[t] from the rubble,” and how might that influence contemporary feminist practice?

  • How do we engage with the language of “rebuilding” when the same terminology has been used institutionally post-COVID as a way to reinforce and recenter patriarchal power?

  • How do we interrogate challenges facing women, trans, and non-binary artists in academia, training, and professional environments as we rebuild and construct new possibilities?

  • What kind of practices, methods, or performances can we develop or implement that support female and non-dominant gender identities in the academic and creative spheres?



Submission Guidelines:


  1. If you have a complete session with participants, you can submit your proposal directly to ATHE through Oxford Abstracts. To list WTP as your session sponsor, simply select WTP in the “Session Sponsor” field of the online proposal form. Completed proposals are due to ATHE by 11:59pm EST on December 12, 2022. Please also forward a copy of your completed proposal to WTP conference planners Megan Stahl ( and Hannah Fazio (

    1. If you wish to submit a multidisciplinary session (sponsored by two or more ATHE focus groups), you must contact the conference planners from each group to receive confirmation of their sponsorship prior to submitting your session to ATHE.

  2. If you need help finding participants or collaborators for a session, please email WTP co-conference planners Megan Stahl ( and Hannah Fazio ( Your proposal should include your name, contact information, affiliation, and a brief abstract regarding the content and structure of your session. These work-in-progress proposals are due to us via email on December 1, 2022.


ATHE has put together a list of proposal FAQs to help guide you, but if you have any questions or if you need help navigating any aspect of the proposal process, please email WTP co-conference planners Megan Stahl ( and Hannah Fazio (


Please note that ATHE will be opening up a second round of submissions in March 2023. This will give people the opportunity to collaborate on existing sessions, add additional participants, and develop all-conference programming.

2021 Pre-Conference

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