Theatre, Performance and Philosophy 2017

Full Name: Kélina Gotman, on behalf of the convenors

Annual Conference Theme (if applicable): N/A

What were the main points that emerged from your WG this year?
We had a phenomenal three days discussing questions pertaining to the “people” – a particularly urgent topic in the wake of recent and ongoing populist uprisings and political shake-up around the world. We also discussed the cultural politics and practices of care, and dramaturgical philosophies, including attention to the recent work of Karen Barad, among others. We had, as always, a wonderfully broad array of approaches to performance represented, from song and dance to theatre and cinema. Formats were varied, from the more standard and always extremely satisfying paper presentations to the collective workshop and walking/live installation. We also had a wonderfully rich open panel with invited speakers, including former working group convenor Dr. Tony Fisher from RCSSD and Dr. Sophie Nield from RHUL. The open panel, hosted by the current convenors, was extremely well attended: responding to writings by Louis Althusser in particular, provocations and discussion ranged from the politics of theatre today and the question of displacement to melodrama and ‘virtue’ (Nield).

What was discussed at your business meeting?

We discussed the possibility of hosting an interim event outside the UK – an idea that had been explored in the wake of the previous year’s meeting but for pragmatic reasons not pursued. There was broad consensus that this approach would be cost-efficient, given cheap flights and accommodation costs within Europe, compared with travel in the UK; it was also agreed that this internationalism aptly reflected the group’s international make-up. Also discussed was the possibility of running an interim event in London or elsewhere in the UK. Either way, the group is very keen to continue conversation broached in the open panel in particular. The idea of rhythmicity, spostamento (Althusser) and the intersection of politics and philosophy, were all keenly discussed. Working group members were very grateful for the convivial nature of discussion in the group, and found refreshing the open quality of discussion in the open panel. There was also some discussion of collaborating with one or more of the other working groups next year, particularly the Dramaturgy working group or the Body working group, with whom we have historically had many ties. Collaboration would most naturally take place in the context of a joint open panel. A number of working group members, particularly (but not exclusively) international, non-permanently employed, and postgraduate members, noted the prohibitive cost of attending the annual TaPRA conference. This has been an ongoing concern.

Types of contributions:
Papers, workshops/collaborative performances, and curated open debate.

Number of formal contributors (those listed in book of abstracts) 17

Approx. overall number of delegates who attended your WG Sessions Approx. 60 delegates over the course of the three days.
Composition of WG (PG, ECR, etc.)
Combination of PG, ECR, Independent scholars, artists, and more senior scholars

Did you have any non-UK participants? Yes

If your WG hosted an Open Panel, do you have any feedback?

The Open Panel was a highlight event for our group this year; discussion was extremely lively, provocative, and dynamic. Working group members and members from other groups visiting the session equally commended this event for being a genuine intellectual moment – open and inclusive, challenging and stimulating in equal measure.

Any additional points or feedback not covered above?

We would like to reiterate that the cost of attending the TaPRA annual conference continues to be prohibitive, and constitutes a major concern for all members, including those on full salaries.

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