Running a journal like Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques, you cannot help but feel the sense of mission and possibility that contemporaries can share. Revisiting back issues, I am struck by how the people who contributed to the journal’s development have both reflected and driven changes in performance practice and scholarship. I took over as editor-in-chief in 2014, just as the journal began notably to expand its international scope. In issue #11, I wrote in my first editorial note:
The ambition of Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques is to grow, to reach an even larger and more diverse audience by opening up to include other forms of artistic expression such as dance, puppetry, shadow theatre, circus, among others. Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques wants to meet the challenges of the contemporary situation with creativity and courage and thus help create social and artistic horizons of hope. It is our belief that there is still room for a journal like this to interrogate meanings and paradoxes, by offering a critical appraisal of options for local and internationally engaged theatre and performance work. It is our belief that the function of an artistic journal, like the function of art itself, is to delight and to disturb. Delight through the channeling of useful information and disturb by forcing the reader to confront or re-examine received values in a world of increasing interconnectivity.
Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques, faithful to what it has promised, is now bringing to its readers its first special issue on contemporary dance. Margareta Sörenson, president of IATC and a dance critic in her home country, Sweden, and Professor Octavian Saiu, a young and seasoned performing arts scholar from Romania, have put together a number of highly interesting and insightful papers and interviews which beautifully cover dance trends in Asia, Africa, North and South America and Europe. Their original intention was not to exhaust the possibilities of the field, but simply to bring to our attention for more reflection various inviting cultural notions of the body, the dancing body, the theatrical body, the naked body. And they both did a truly wonderful job.
Regarding all other contributions, as usual, they resonate with each other in unanticipated ways. The conference papers, edited by Professor Ivan Medenica from Serbia, were presented in Craiova during the colloquium dedicated to Shakespeare and organized by the biannual Shakespeare Festival. All three papers (from France, England, and China) focus on the reasons for the Bard’s increasing popularity. The two francophone papers in the Essay section discuss plays, from various parts of the world, which attempt to exploit and explore the stage/audience relationship. The Performance Reviews section, which I edited, carries thirteen critical articles that cover shows coming from twenty-five countries, from the Middle East to Morocco and Mongolia, from Japan to Canada and Argentina, from Cuba to Spain and Greece.
Professor Don Rubin from Canada has edited for the Book Reviews five very enlightening reviews of recent publications that discuss current issues of theatre scholarship. The section, Critics on Criticism, edited by Mark Brown from Scotland, accommodates Diana Damian Martin’s essay on the question of “deliberation.” If deliberation “is characterized by assembly and therefore, collectivity, in what ways,” Martin asks, “might oral criticism benefit from these shared characteristics?” The second essay of this section comes from Professor Kalina Stefanova (Bulgaria) and highlights the reactions of her graduate class in Shanghai to the question: “Who Would Notice if Critics Disappeared?” The featured article of this issue was authored by a well-known scholar and frequent CS contributor, Professor Patrice Pavis.
Doctoral candidate Katerina Delikonstantinidou, an amazing and positive force in what we are doing, keeps enriching her collection of links to “web venues” that feature serious and professional theatre/performing arts work, research and criticism. She has now added a list of 82 national platforms for the theatre and performing arts which provide to the readers of Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques easier access and a fuller view of what is going on around the globe.
Regarding our future plans, issue #14 on “Theatre and Statelessness in Europe,” edited by Professor Steve Wilmer, is coming out in December 2016. Issue #15, on “African Drama/Theatre and Criticism,” edited by playwright and essayist Femi Osofisan and Dr. Tejumola Olaniyan, with a special Essay Section on the pedagogy of Michael Chekhov, edited by Prof. Yana Meerzon, is scheduled for publication in June 2017. So stay with us. There is more to come. Feel free to contact me with queries about the journal, its editorial policies, its scholarly interests and future special issues.
THANK YOU NOTE: For the completion of this issue, all members of the Editorial Board of Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques and all members of IATC’s Executive Committee owe special thanks to Professor Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, executive editor of Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques and ExCom member, and the Theatre Department of the University of Illinois at Urbana, for their most valuable financial support. Their generosity keeps us going. We are grateful.
My warm and special thanks also go to Lissa Tyler Renaud, Michel Vaïs and Mark Brown who have, with their suggestions, corrections and meticulous readings, helped immensely in maintaining the quality of this bilingual journal. Also, I owe special thanks to Jeffrey Eric Jenkins and Don Rubin, friends and colleagues, who were always available and ready to help and give advice. And, last but not least, thanks to the webteam of the journal, Tasos Paschalis and Katerina Delikonstantinidou, who worked long hours to upload, post and manage the articles and make all this come true and to those anonymous readers of the journal whose feedback has always been a useful advisor.
*Savas Patsalidis is Professor of theatre and performance history and theory in the School of English (Aristotle University, Thessaloniki), the Hellenic Open University and the Drama Academy of the National Theatre of Northern Greece. He is also a regular lecturer on the Graduate Programme of the Theatre Department at Aristotle University. He is the author of thirteen books on theatre and performance criticism/theory and co-editor of another thirteen. His two-volume study, Theatre, Society, Nation (2010), was awarded first prize for best theatre study of the year. In addition to his academic activities, he works as a theatre reviewer for the ejournals lavart, parallaxi, and the greekplay project. He is currently the president of the Hellenic Association of Theatre and Performing Arts Critics and the editor-in-chief of Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques, the journal of the International Association of Theatre Critics.