Call for Abstracts: Dramaturgies of Accessibility



This special issue of Performance Matters (11.2) invites scholarly and artistic research that explores intersections between dramaturgy and accessibility.

With this issue we ask what dramaturgies of accessibility may be(come). Let’s begin imagining. What if disabling contexts and norms became more porous and adaptable? Where, then, could we start when we create, teach, or apply performing arts? How might we place the strengths of individuals with physical, perceptual, or cognitive Disabilities at the centre of the ways of working and knowing involved? What do you consider the creative, expressive, and applied potentials that such a starting point enables? Which possibilities have been realized? Which potentials might be pursued to inspire change?

We invite you to consider what kinds of strengths we can glean from Disabled artists and the ways in which they embody this work. Focusing on strengths in contexts of dramaturgy and performance may create change by subverting inaccessible creation practices and confronting ableism in the content of works. This may, in turn, inspire the development of accessible arts education and arts-based community practices. How can care interact in transformative ways through our dramaturgical and accessibility practices?

Dramaturgical agency derives from awareness about how creative ideas are sourced, how collaboration is organized, the design of creative processes and methods, and how composition affects audiences. These areas have ethical implications that matter. For example, whose knowledge do we draw on (representation), who/what does our process include (equity, inclusivity, accessibility, relationship), how are collaborative power-dynamics managed (consent and harm reduction)? We invite authors to intersect such areas of awareness with topics of accessibility and Disability.

Format: Final manuscripts can be prepared as full-length written essays (4-6,000 words and up to 4 images/illustrations), photo-essays (8-12 images/illustrations and up to 2500 words); video-essays (15-30 minutes), podcasts/sound essays (15-30 minutes); or short ‘provocations’ and ‘utopias’ (up to 1000 words or 5 minutes). Please select the format and medium that match your contents, strengths, and technical skills. Co-authoring is welcome. Authors of accepted proposals will receive more detailed information about formatting and providing accessibility in their submission.

Timeline: Interested contributors are asked to send a proposal (300-words) and a short  bio (100-words) to issue editors Pil Hansen ( and Jessica Watkin ( by April 1, 2024. In addition to outlining the substance of the proposed contribution, please also indicate (1) its anticipated form, (2) the research methods (artistic, scholarly, scientific) and ethical principles (e.g., nothing about us without us) applied, and (3) any other relevant information.

Authors invited to submit full contributions will be notified in May 2024, with manuscript submissions due in November 2024, at which time peer-review and revision will start. We will be working towards publication in the fall of 2025.

About the issue editors

Jessica Watkin finished her PhD at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies with research focusing on Disability dramaturgy, care, and support for performance creation. She is a Blind artist-scholar who is currently supporting many Disabled and nondisabled artists through creating and producing their work. She is also a facilitator for anti-oppression work at the Stratford Festival, an accessibility consultant and educator, guest lecturer, and activist. She has edited the Canadian Theatre Review issue Intersections of Allyship, Action, and Artistic Access (2022), and the first anthology of Disability plays in Canada Interdependent Magic: Disability Performance in Canada (Playwrights CA Press 2022).

Pil Hansen (PhD) is Professor in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at University of Calgary. She serves as editor of the Routledge book series Expanded Dramaturgy, Associate Editor of Frontiers in Psychology, founding member of Vertical City Performance, and a dance/devising dramaturg. Pil lives and works with physical Disability. Her empirical and artistic research examines memory, learning, and socio-environmental relations in creative processes, most recently with a focus on accessibility. Pil has dramaturged 35+ stage works and is widely published. She authored the monograph Performance Generating Systems in Dance (Intellect, 2022) and edited the essay collections Performing the Remembered Present (Methuen, 2017) and Dance Dramaturgy (Palgrave, 2015).


About the journal