Curated Panel

Reconsidering Genre in Music Theatre

Curated by Craig Walker and Colleen Renihan, Queen’s University

(from the original call for papers)

Prescriptive approaches to composition, collaboration, performance, and analysis have long informed traditions in musical theatre and opera, both historical and contemporary. For example, scholars and practitioners of music theatre have always been—and indeed, continue to be—preoccupied with devising formulas for success (see, for example, Block 1993; McMillin 2012; Rosenberg & Harburg, 1993; and Viertel 2016). Surprisingly, these strictures of genre remain under-examined. In the spirit of the conference’s focus on “excavations” and “exchanges,” we are interested in exploring works, productions, analytical and/or critical approaches, individuals, and techniques that blur and challenge generic and indeed disciplinary boundaries in music theatre.

We want to interrogate what is at stake in these generic interventions. Potential topics include:

  • Discussions that highlight the explicit and implicit cultural work of genre;
  • Analyses of works of music theatre that function outside of traditional generic categories;
  • Profiles of creators and/or performers who stretch the definition of genre;
  • New approaches to music theatre that defy or reimagine those previously inscribed by the genre;
  • Historical analyses of generic conventions;
  • Demonstrations of the power structures inherent in generic categorization;
  • Profiling of the political, cultural, social dimensions of generic categorization or its dismantling.
Panelists will deliver 15-minute papers. There will be time designated at the end of the session for discussion that reaches across paper topics.