Talking up the city

- Tara Sharpe

What does your city mean to you? Where do the arts fit into your urban experience?

On Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m., a free public lecture will focus on theatre in the city, kick-starting a series of discussions about city life in UVic’s second annual City Talks lecture series at the newly reopened Legacy Art Gallery.

The special lecture series, launched last year by UVic’s Committee for Urban Studies, encourages dialogue about many of the issues that confront urban dwellers. The downtown lectures drew upward of 80 to 120 people per session in the 2010/11 season. This year’s format will follow last year’s: there will be six sessions, one a month, with the first half of each event being an informative talk by a scholar, followed by an extended Q&A session from 8:15 to 9 p.m.

“There are a lot of mid-size cities like ours across Canada,” says UVic historian Jordan Stanger-Ross, committee chair. “Our experiences here are typical of city life across our country, with a whole range of issues worth considering. Setting the discussion downtown in a beautiful venue adds another source of vibrancy to an already energetic discussion and is in keeping with our aims of outreach and community engagement.”

The first trio in the 2011/12 series (Sept. 22, Oct. 27 and Nov. 24) will speak to how theatre and arts can impact the city. The second (Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and March 15) will delve into governance and the politics of urbanism.

UVic English professor Janelle Jenstad helped organize the initial three lectures under the theme of theatre in the city to “explore how the theatre negotiates social relationships and urban spaces.”

The Sept. 22 event is also part of the Lansdowne Lecture program and will examine urban challenges and prospects as evoked in the playhouses of Early Modern London, presented by Columbia University’s Jean Howard.

The Oct. 27 lecture by University of Western Ontario’s Kim Solga will question how a play about genocide written for a Kigali stage can reach across urban space and time. The last event in the first set, on Nov. 24, with Eugène van Erven of Utrecht University in The Netherlands, is funded in part by the European Union through the UVic European Studies program.

More info on all six sessions and lecturers

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Keywords: City Talks

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