The Colonial-Era Caribbean Theatre and Opera Network (CECTON) was set up by Julia Prest, Professor of French and Caribbean Studies at the University of St Andrews, in February 2021. Its activities from February 2021 to January 2023 are generously funded by a Research Network Grant from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
In its initial phase (2021-23), CECTON comprises a small network of scholars of the colonial-era Caribbean and its theatre and opera traditions working in different academic disciplines, language areas, geographical regions and at different stages in their academic career (see People). In our discussion workshop and conference (see Events), we are seeking to identify and unpick the methodological, theoretical and practical challenges that we encounter in our research. These range from engaging with different colonial archives to researching the colonial era from a post-colonial perspective, and from our attempts to uncover hidden or marginalised voices in various sources to the difficulties of working on performances that are, by their very nature, transitory. We are seeking to expand our individual and collective understanding of colonial-era Caribbean theatre and opera by uncovering similarities as well as differences across our respective areas of study. Only in the context of such a network or group can the topic be addressed in anything like its full richness and complexity, and its relevance to today’s world uncovered. It is anticipated that our findings will be published in an edited volume at the end of the initial phase of the network. We are also seeking to share our work with the wider public via a range of outreach activities, notably a new theatrical work, inspired by our research, that we plan to perform in Edinburgh at the Being Human Festival and at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews (see Outreach). It is hoped that, following its first phrase, CECTON can be expanded to deepen the conversation further and include more participants.