4th Annual Graduate Symposium on Theatre and Performance Studies
at Indiana University
Jon McKenzie, in his 2001 book Perform or Else, makes the prediction that “performance will be to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries what discipline was to the eighteenth and nineteenth, that is an onto-historical formation of power and knowledge” (18).
As McKenzie indicates, over the last part of the 20th century, there has been a growing emphasis on performance, which has permeated the social sciences and humanities. Disciplines as methodologically varied as anthropology and English, theatre and folklore, sociology and history all have related concerns about the body, the place, the text, or even the object that performs– from the informal to the formal, from the everyday to the special event. Theorists from Victor Turner to Richard Schechner, from Erving Goffman to Richard Bauman and Charles Briggs, from Clifford Geertz to Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett all entertain, in some way, an orientation toward performance and in some respects, practice.
If McKenzie’s prediction holds true, what space does this leave for theatre studies?
- Where do theatre artists find themselves situated amongst all of this theorizing on performance?
- How do current theatre practice trends confirm or trouble the idea of “performance”?
- What is theatre? What is performance? Is theatre just a subset of performance?
- How can performance studies in its varied forms and manifestations advance theatrical practice?
- How can rethinking performance inform the discipline of theatre?
- How can we translate this shift in perception into our work as theatre artists?
- What can perform? Just people? Things?
- What can be performed? Novels? Poems? Comic books?
- What benefits can we receive from rethinking performance in its broadest terms?
- What do we get when we expand our notions of what is and is not performance?
- What do we gain from looking broadly at related phenomenon under the umbrella of “performance?” What do we lose?
We call for individuals and groups to propose academic papers, experimental talks, live performance, roundtable discussions, informal presentations of research, staged readings, artistic manifestos, workshops, and other media at the intersection of performance, theory, and practice. We encourage applicants to address the conference theme, but it is not required. We welcome and encourage a diversity of approaches, styles, and methods. Please submit a 250-word abstract, if appropriate, or an artist statement and a brief bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 1st, 2016. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by January 15th, 2016. The conference will be held on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus Friday, March 25th- Sunday, March 27th, 2016.