Deadline: Friday 20 April 2018
Science, art, literature, the drama, the effort for economic betterment, in fact every individual and social opposition to the existing disorder of things, is illumined by the spiritual light of Anarchism. (Emma Goldman, ‘Anarchism: what it really stands for’) ‘“The future has no future” is the wisdom of an age that, for all its appearance of perfect normalcy, has reached the level of consciousness of the first punks’ (The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection) In her essay ‘Anarchism: what it really stands for’ Emma Goldman argued for anarchism’s potential in liberating human subjects from the restraints of religion, property and the state, reflecting on and anticipating the influence of anarchist ideas on libertarian and emancipatory movements of the last two centuries. Her argument and hopeful stance, as evidenced in the first epigraph above, is in dialogue with The Invisible Committee’s aphorism that the wisdom of our age is that ‘the future has no future’ – an argument that proposes the anarchist commune as the way toward a future that has a future. Alongside these two iterations of anarchist thinking, which emerged a century apart from one another, TaPRA’s Performance, Identity and Community working group seeks to explore what remains of anarchism as grounds for optimism in the contemporary moment. Despite its complex history, and the commodification of anarchist aesthetics, anarchy and anarchism remain a source of inspiration, creativity and hope. Moreover, we are interested in exploring how the ‘spiritual light of anarchism’ might ‘illumine’ contemporary performance by looking at how diverse schools of anarchist thought have influenced and shaped histories and practices of theatre and performance (the Dadaists, the Living Theatre, San Francisco Diggers, the Situationists, punk and DIY), and considering how they might inform the work of current companies and artists like Pussy Riot, Rachel Clerke & the Great White Males, Action Hero, and Daniel Oliver, alongside the collaborative work of organisations like the Live Art Development Agency and the Tate Modern (Kaputt: Academy of Destruction), and Antiuniversity Now. Continuing the Working Group’s discussions around dissonance, dissensus, agency and strategies of challenging institutional and other frames of legibility, we take anarchism as our point of departure with the view to interrogate organisational, representational and performative practices that cater for (often oppressed) political, social and economic desires and optimisms. We therefore ask: how might theatre and performance studies use anarchism’s attachment to ‘a desire for the political’ as a carrier of the potential to re-energize public and intimate political spheres? Or, conversely, how might performance studies offer a way of thinking about anarchism in futureless times and the ‘impasse of the historical present’ (Berlant 2011: 259)? In proposing anarchism as a key theme for this year’s conference, we are also interested in the roles of violence in and against anarchism and anarchists – from the direct actions of the Angry Brigade and Ian Bone’s celebration of ‘hospitalised coppers’, to the recent demonization of the ‘Alt Left’ after clashes with white supremacists in Charlottesville – whilst tackling some of the assumptions that connect violence to anarchism by exploring the significance of optimism and desire in anarchist thought and action. We welcome contributions in the form of academic papers or short provocations that engage with and interrogate practices and theories of anarchism as performance strategies. Contributions may touch on (but are not limited to) any of the following themes/questions:
Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for a TaPRA event. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Participation. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the event venue.