Virginie Magnat, Ph.D..
Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Performance
Joint Appointment in Creative and Critical Studies
Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies
The University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
CCS 368, 1148 Research Road
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7
2017-2018 CoursesOn Leave 2017-2018
Affiliations to Research Institutes, Centres, and Groups:
- Institute for Community Engaged Research (Member)
- Centre for Imaginative Ethnography
- Indigenous Inquiries Circle (Member) - International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry
- Laboratoire d’ethnomusicologie et d’organologie (Chercheure associée)
Research and Teaching Interests
Performance Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Experimental Ethnography, Indigenous Epistemologies and Methodologies, Ritual Performance, Embodied Research, Physically-Based Performance Training, Body-Voice Integration, Traditional Singing, World Performance Traditions, Experimental and Intercultural Theatre, Devising.
Ph.D. in Drama and Theatre, University of California, San Diego/Irvine Joint Program, 2003 D.E.A. (pre-doctoral degree), English Department, Sorbonne/Paris III, France, 1993 Masters in English and Theatre Studies, Sorbonne/Paris III, France, 1990 Foundation Year Program, University of King’s College, Halifax, Canada, 1985 International Baccalaureate, Lester B. Pearson United World College, B.C., Canada, 1984
SSHRC-Funded Research on Vocality
Combining interdisciplinary research with arts-based community engagement, the interrelated projects The Performative Power of Vocality and Honoring Cultural Diversity through Collective Vocal Practice investigate vocality as a vital source of cultural creativity and an experiential mode of cognition grounded in process, practice, and place. Supported by an Insight Grant ($94,090) and a Connection Grant ($24,745) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, these projects will culminate in the publication of my second monograph contracted by Routledge and the creation of a film documenting the practice-based component that will be hosted on the UBC Institute for Community Engaged Research website.
Expanding the interdisciplinary methodology that I developed for my first monograph Grotowski, Women, and Contemporary Performance (Routledge 2014) and companion film series Meetings with Remarkable Women (Routledge Performance Archive), I am exploring how engaging with vocal traditions and practices might strengthen relationship to our community and our natural environment, enhance health and well-being, reconnect us to our cultural heritage, and foster intercultural understanding and social justice. I am committed to integrating the Indigenous critique of dominant Western knowledge systems and to honoring Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies, as reflected in my previous research and my scholarly publications over the last five years. Following the recommendation of my Indigenous Inquiries Circle colleagues, a group that meets annually at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (directed by Norman K. Denzin) and that includes influential Canadian Indigenous scholars Dr. Shawn Wilson (Research is Ceremony 2008) and Dr. Margaret Kovach (Indigenous Methodologies 2009), I have formed an Advisory Committee of six established Indigenous artists, scholars, and Elders/Traditional Knowledge Keepers who have generously offered to provide the research team with guidance and mentorship throughout the development of these projects.
This committee includes Cree Elder Joseph Naytowhow (Indigenous Inquiries Circle founding member) and Syilx Elder Delphine Derickson (Okanagan Nation member), two Traditional Knowledge Keepers who are both singers, musicians, and educators; Indigenous music therapy specialist Dr. Carolyn Kenny (Antioch University); musician and arts-based Indigenous education scholar Dr. Vicki Kelly (Simon Fraser University); Indigenous performance studies artist-scholar Dr. Jill Carter (University of Toronto); and scholar-practitioner of Indigenous epistemologies and Indigenous education Dr. Manulani Aluli-Meyer (University of Hawaii).
Working in close consultation with the Advisory Committee, I am currently developing the practice-based research component with five graduate students, three of whom self-identify as Indigenous, pursuing MFA and Ph.D. degrees in Theatre, Indigenous Performance, and Ethnomusicology. Drawing from my twenty-five years of experience as a performance practitioner and educator, as well as from my embodied research on the Occitan vocal tradition of my Mediterranean cultural heritage, I am collaborating with these research partners to organize and facilitate public roundtable discussions, community gatherings, and “Singing Circles” hinging upon the Indigenous ethical principles of respect, reciprocity, and relationality (Wilson 2008). Together, we seek to promote inclusivity, diversity, and solidarity as the core values of a healthy multicultural society by engaging Indigenous, Settler, and Immigrant communities in non-colonial forms of collective vocal practice that can contribute to current reconciliation processes in Canada.
Completed SSHRC-funded project: Meetings with Remarkable Women - Tu es la fille de quelqu'un
Main research outcome: monograph published by Routledge and companion documentary film series accessible on the Routledge Performance Archive.
Grotowski, Women, and Contemporary Performance: Meetings with Remarkable Women
by Virginie Magnat
Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies SeriesWatch the book's companion Documentary Film Series on the Routledge Performance Archive
Grotowki, Women, and Contemporary Performance: Meetings with Remarkable Women (Routledge 2014) was awarded the Canadian Association for Theatre Research 2014 Ann Saddlemyer Book Award Honorable Mention:
"Virginie Magnat’s Grotowski, Women, and Contemporary Performance: Meetings with Remarkable Women, is the result of a vital and timely scholarly project… As a trained performer coming from a Grotowski-based tradition, Magnat carefully negotiates a variety of key methodologies drawn from performance ethnography in order to present an intimate and compelling portrait of women [artists]. ...Magnat proposes steps towards what she describes as an ‘ecology of the body-in-life’... [that] would fuse ritual and performance to allow the rigour, audacity and poeticism of the women Magnat discusses to launch a whole new round of compelling transmission of performance, one that can respond to ... the significant patriarchally-induced global environmental challenges we currently find ourselves facing." - CATR Citation
"As both a scholar and a performer herself, Magnat’s research relies upon an interdisciplinary methodology, combining fieldwork, artistic collaboration with her subjects, and the articulation of her embodied research through writing. The result is an insightful account of the work of such artists as Rena Mirecka, Ewa Benesz, Katharina Seyferth, and Ang Gey Pin. This book will be a valuable resource for scholars interested in the work of Grotowski, Polish theatre, women theatre practitioners, as well as those engaged in practice-as-research." - Review by Tanya Dean, TDR
"[Magnat’s] methodology is an exquisite ethnographic balance of researcher and participant ... I found she did a splendid job of placing [this study] within the context of Polish history. …Her overall argument follows a post-theatrical path in Communist Poland instead of capitalizing on Grotowski’s international reputation…The volume is a comprehensive collection of the practising female Grotowski practitioners...This is a valuable body of work... the first to give full attention to the female angle of Grotowski’s legacy." - Review by Lara Szypszak, Canadian Theatre Review
"Influenced by the fields of indigenous and feminist research methodologies and her personal contact with Cree director, performer and writer Floyd Favel, Magnat lays out an approach that stresses the necessity of abandoning the position of a distanced, objective observer of cultural material... In bringing to light the work of these practitioners, Magnat also has the opportunity to further analyse the development of Grotowski’s Paratheatrical experiments – a period of his work that is often given only cursory or dismissive treatment in accounts that address the officially sanctioned direction of his work and successors….The book provides much interesting ethnographic detail and well-constructed arguments … Magnat is asking provocative and important questions, and offering access to a rich and fascinating realm of performance practice." - Review by Brian Schultis, Studies in Theatre and Performance
Situated at the intersection of performance studies, experimental ethnography, and Indigenous research methodologies, Grotowski, Women, and Contemporary Performance: Meetings with Remarkable Women and the companion documentary film series, featured on the Routledge Performance Archive, explore the artistic journeys and current creative practices of women from different cultures and generations who share a direct connection to Grotowski's theatrical and post-theatrical investigation of performance.
These artists transmit through their teaching what I define as an ecosystemic conception of organicity, and I argue that their creative research supports an ecological understanding of performance, in the broader sense of ecology articulated by Indigenous scholars.
The embodied research I conducted for this project, which entailed four years of multi-sited fieldwork in Poland, Italy, France, and Denmark was funded by a Standard Research Grant and a Research/Creation in Fine Arts Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
UNESCO designated 2009 as the "Year of Grotowski" and I was an invited speaker at "Year of Grotowski" conferences in New York, Paris, Krakow, and Canterbury. I was also commissioned by the Polish Embassy in Ottawa to curate a "Year of Grotowski" series of cultural events in Canada.
I discuss my interdisciplinary research in the following scholarly articles and book chapters:
- Magnat, Virginie. “Performance Ethnography: Decolonizing Research and Pedagogy.” Qualitative Research outside the Academy. Ed. Norman K. Denzin and Michael Giardina. Left Coast Press, 2014. 235-252.
- "Can Research Become Ceremony? Performance Ethnography and Indigenous Epistemologies." Canadian Theatre Review 151 (Summer 2012): 30-36.
- "Productive Disorientation, or the Ups and Downs of Embodied Research." Researching Amongst Elites: Challenges and Opportunities in Studying Up. Ed. Luis L.M. Aguiar and Christopher J. Schneider. Ashgate, 2012. 179-197.
- "Conducting Embodied Research at the Intersection of Performance Studies, Experimental Ethnography, and Indigenous Methodologies." Anthropologica - Canadian Anthropology Society Journal, Vol. 53 N˚ 2 (2011): 213-227.
- "Performative Approaches to Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Research." Research Beyond Borders: Multidisciplinary Reflections. Ed. Lise-Hélène Trouilloud and Anjana Narayan. Lexington, 2011. 157-177.
Prior to joining the University of British Columbia Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, I held a Postdoctoral Faculty Fellowship in the Anthropology Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz . I have since continued to work at the intersection of performance studies, cultural anthropology, experimental ethnography, and Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies.
I believe that it is the responsibility of university theatre programs to familiarize students with the rich cultural legacy of world performance traditions and foster a shared sense of humanity as well as a genuine respect for diversity. My personal dedication to working cross-culturally is rooted in a foundational life experience: at the age of 15, I was fortunate to receive a two-year full scholarship to study at the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific, a non-profit institution promoting international understanding through education. My early passion for theatre was deeply informed by this intensely fulfilling time in a “global village” hosting two hundred students from over seventy countries in the coastal forest of Vancouver Island. It was then that I became aware of the infinite potentialities that arise when people with different cultural legacies live and work together. I have since envisioned performance as a powerful site of encounter, exchange, and collaboration.
I am originally from France and pursued theatre training in Paris, Lyon, and Saint-Etienne for fifteen years prior to conducting doctoral and postdoctoral research in the United States. While I have trained with a wide range of international performers, master-teachers, directors, and choreographers, I am deeply indebted to the creative research and teaching of Zygmunt Molik and Rena Mirecka, two founding members of Jerzy Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre. A work session led by Zygmunt Molik in Brzezinka, Poland, in which I participated, was documented in the film Dyrygent, featured on the companion DVD of Zygmunt Molik's Voice and Body Work(Routledge 2010). Online excerpts of this film are posted on: http://www.grotowski.net/mediateka/wideo
As a performance studies scholar and theatre practitioner with a commitment to cross-cultural research, I have been developing undergraduate and graduate curriculum combining three aspects which I believe to be key to training students to act and think creatively as individuals, members of their community, and global citizens. These three aspects are:
- the interconnection of artistic practice and theory
- the interrelation of creativity, personal growth, and collaborative learning
- the interdisciplinary and intercultural dimensions of knowledge production
In this challenging new era of economic turmoil, technological dominance, and corporate homogenization, live performance can inspire us to cherish cultural diversity, encourage us to engage in participatory democracy, and enhance the quality of our everyday life.
In my teaching, I foreground the development of “théâtre de recherche” and interculturalism, the influence of non-Western performance traditions on contemporary acting training, and the emergence of hybrid forms such as physical theatre, dance contact improvisation, butoh, dance theatre, devising, and site specific performance, thereby inviting students to explore theatre across conventional disciplinary and cultural boundaries.
Working collaboratively on creative projects, for example, can provide students with the opportunity to learn about themselves and each other, to trust in their ability to make valuable contributions, and to build respectful and mutually beneficial artistic partnerships.
To watch Dream Migrations, the one-hour performance piece created collaboratively by students enrolled in my 2011 THTR 280/480 class, please click on the link below the poster in the right-hand side margin. I co-directed this piece with guest artist Ker Wells (co-founder of Primus Theatre). Dream Migrationspremiered at the Art Gallery and was performed twice on campus. Students chose to donate the proceeds of these public performances to SaveJapan UBCO, raising close to $900: http://www.ubc.ca/okanagan/creativeandcritical/__shared/assets/May_2011_Scoop_newsletter24757.pdfhttp://web.ubc.ca/okanagan/creative/events/performance.html
For a discussion of devising from a pedagogical perspective, please see my article "Devising Utopia, or Asking for the Moon," Theatre Topics, Vol. 15, no. 1 (March 2005) Special Issue on Devising: 73-86.
For more information about the Interdisciplinary Performance Program, please visit: http://www.ubc.ca/okanagan/creative/options/theatre.html
Links to experimental, intercultural, and traditional performance practices, professional theatre associations, and related resources:
Konstantin Stanislavski http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konstantin_Stanislavski
Grotowski’s Theatre Laboratory Training http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7IG6c8D73c&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VCyGPm1VJM&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TI-p3KmpfDM&feature=related
Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre: “The Constant Prince” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c97uQ6VSau0&feature=related
Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre: “Akropolis” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cjg3xwn1gLU&feature=related
Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre: “Apocalypsis cum Figuris” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BZynobrYzM&feature=related
The British Grotowski Project http://www.britishgrotowski.co.uk/
Eugenio Barba http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenio_Barba;
Odin Teatret, Holstebro, Denmark. http://www.odinteatret.dk/
International School of Theatre Anthropology http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjQdD5xUM_8&feature=related
The Magdalena Project http://www.themagdalenaproject.org/
Open Theatre http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZlKbp3KMHs
Merce Cunningham http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra2T_iMXQVM&feature=channel
Pina Bausch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm70fMM3JAk
Le Dragon Bleu (directed by Robert Lepage) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYpC0aYe9ro&feature=related
Eonnagata (directed by Robert Lepage) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u3NIymIQtg&feature=fvw
Las Téoulères, International Center for Theatre Research and Training, Labarrère, France. http://www.toule.net/
Commedia dell’Arte Arlecchino Servant of two masters (directed by Giorgio Strehler, Piccolo Teatro de Milano) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YflQ_gVA4n8&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUUFSJ8wk-4&feature=player_embedded# http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bTO3X_Qwts&feature=related
Académie Internationale des Arts du Spectacle, Direction Carlo Boso, Montreuil-sous-bois, France http://www.academie-spectacles.com/
German Expressionist Dance (influenced Butoh) Mary Wigman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp-Z07Yc5oQ
Chinese Opera http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_opera
Mei Lanfang http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0qEEv43GDc
Ritual Performance: Haitian Voodoo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Vodou
American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) http://www.astr.org/
Performance Studies International (PSI) http://www.psi-web.org/
Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR)
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) http://www.athe.org/
International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) http://www.firt-iftr.org
United World Colleges (UWC) http://www.uwc.org/
Last reviewed 9/5/2017 12:15:53 PM
Grotowski, Women, and
Meetings with Remarkable Women,
Routledge 2014 - Canadian Association
for Theatre Research
Ann Saddlemyer Book Award
Women, Collective Creation, and Devised Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
Book Chapter: “Women, Transmission, and Creative Agency in the Grotowski Diaspora”
Chapter: “Performance Ethnography:
Decolonizing Research and Pedagogy” (2014)
In 2014, Syilx Elder Delphine Derickson
and UBC Performance Professor Virginie Magnat
co-facilitated a cross-cultural exchange of traditional
songs hosted at the En’owkin Centre.
Theatre Research in Canada Forum:
"Honoring the 3 R’s of Indigenous
Research Methodologies” (2014)
Chapter: “Un savoir qui passe par le corps:
transmission de la connaissance et de la mémoire
culturelles dans la performance de chants traditionnels” (2014)
"Gender and Sexuality in Acting Training"
Book Chapter: "Productive
Disorientation, or the Ups and
Downs of Embodied Research"
Book Chapter: "Performative
Approaches to Interdisciplinary
and Cross-Cultural Research"
Meetings with Remarkable Women
"Devising Utopia, or
Asking for the Moon"
Theatre Topics, March 2005
(special issue on devising),
pages 73 - 86
"Girish Karnad's Hayavadana:
A Postcolonial Reading"
genre, Post-Colonialism: The
Dislocation of Culture, Vol. 22, 2001
"Theatricality from the
Substance: A Review of Theory
and Literacy, special issue
Thearicality, Volume 31,
Nos. 2 & 3, 2002
"Number Eleven Theatre's
The Prague Visitor: A
Journey Into A Canadian
Company's Creative Process"
2004, Number 24
Foreign publications with
articles by Virginie Magnat: