Magnat Virginie

Virginie Magnat

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

T: 250.807.8441


2017-2018 Courses

On Leave 2017-2018

Affiliations to Research Institutes, Centres, and Groups:


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.

Education | Current Research | Interdisciplinarity | Cross-Cultural Perspective | Performance Training | Teaching Philosophy |Links


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

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Current Research

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 Series

Watch 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.


Related Publications:

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.

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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.

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Cross-Cultural Perspective

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.

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Performance Training

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:

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Teaching Philosophy

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:

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:

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Links to experimental, intercultural, and traditional performance practices, professional theatre associations, and related resources:

Konstantin Stanislavski

Vsevolod Meyerhold

Jerzy Grotowski

Grotowski’s Theatre Laboratory Training

Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre: “The Constant Prince”

Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre: “Akropolis”

Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre: “Apocalypsis cum Figuris”

The British Grotowski Project

Eugenio Barba;

Odin Teatret, Holstebro, Denmark.

International School of Theatre Anthropology

The Magdalena Project

Living Theatre

Open Theatre

John Cage

Merce Cunningham

Meredith Monk

Ana Halprin

Steve Paxton

Pina Bausch

Robert Lepage

Le Dragon Bleu (directed by Robert Lepage)

Eonnagata (directed by Robert Lepage)

Robert Wilson

The Black Rider (directed by Robert Wilson, Music by Lou Reed):

Peter Brook

Las Téoulères, International Center for Theatre Research and Training, Labarrère, France.

Commedia dell’Arte Arlecchino Servant of two masters (directed by Giorgio Strehler, Piccolo Teatro de Milano)

Académie Internationale des Arts du Spectacle, Direction Carlo Boso, Montreuil-sous-bois, France

Butoh Hijikata

Kazuo Ohno

Sankai Juku

Katsura Kan

German Expressionist Dance (influenced Butoh) Mary Wigman


Indonesian performance traditions



Chinese Opera

Mei Lanfang

Ritual Performance: Haitian Voodoo

American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR)

Performance Studies International (PSI)

Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR)

Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)

International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR)

United World Colleges (UWC)

Last reviewed shim9/5/2017 12:15:53 PM

Virginie Magnat - book cover


Grotowski, Women, and

Contemporary Performance:

Meetings with Remarkable Women,

Routledge 2014 - Canadian Association

for Theatre Research 

Ann Saddlemyer Book Award

Honorable Mention


Women, Collective Creation 


Women, Collective Creation, and Devised Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

Book Chapter: “Women, Transmission, and Creative Agency in the Grotowski Diaspora” 




Qualitative Inquiry Outside the Academy

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.


TRIC Summer 2014

Theatre Research in Canada Forum:

"Honoring the 3 R’s of Indigenous

Research Methodologies” (2014)

Virginie Magnat Book Book cover for Quand la musique prend corps

Chapter: “Un savoir qui passe par le corps:

transmission de la connaissance et de la mémoire

culturelles dans la performance de chants traditionnels” (2014)

Virginie Magnat theatre review article 

"Gender and Sexuality in Acting Training"


Canadian Theatre Review - article - scan of first page

Article: "Can Research Become

Ceremony? Performance

Ethnography and Indigenous

Epistemologies" (2012)

Virginie Magnat - Antropooglica journal cover

Article: Conducting Embodied

Research at the Intersection

of Performance Studies,

Experimental Ethnography, and

Indigenous Research" (2011)

Reseach Amongst Elites - book cover

Book Chapter: "Productive

Disorientation, or the Ups and

Downs of Embodied Research"


Research Beyond Borders - book cover

Book Chapter: "Performative

Approaches to Interdisciplinary

and Cross-Cultural Research"


Occitan Song

Occitan Song video

Dream Migrations

Dream Migrations video

Virginie's 2009 Web Gallery

"2009 Meetings with

Remarkable Women photos"

Click here to read about

the Year of Grotowski.

The Grotowski Year 2009

2009 Year of Grotowski -

"Meetings with Remarkable Women"

Virginie Magnat montage

2006 montage

The Loveliest Night

The Loveliest Night



MWRW article - The Theatre In poland

Meetings with Remarkable Women

Theatre Topics

"Devising Utopia, or

Asking for the Moon"

Theatre Topics, March 2005

(special issue on devising),

pages 73 - 86

Genre cover

"Girish Karnad's Hayavadana:

A Postcolonial Reading"

genre, Post-Colonialism: The

Dislocation of Culture, Vol. 22, 2001

Substance Volume 31 cover

"Theatricality from the

Performative Perspective",

Substance: A Review of Theory

and Literacy, special issue

Thearicality, Volume 31,

Nos. 2 & 3, 2002

Theatreforum Number 24 cover

"Number Eleven Theatre's

The Prague Visitor: A

Journey Into A Canadian

Company's Creative Process"

THEATREFORUM, winter/Spring

2004, Number 24

365 Days poster

365 Days poster

Foreign publications with

articles by Virginie Magnat:

Criterios 36 article

Criterios 36 article

Les Chemins de l'acteur

didaskalia 64

Theatre/Public 153

Biblioteca Teatrale cover