TaPRA 2019, Exeter / Applied and Social Theatre Working Group / CfP: Theorising Horizons of Possibilities, Openings, and Futures in Applied Theatre Practice

Deadline: Tuesday 16 April 2019

TaPRA Applied and Social Theatre Working Group


Call for Papers


University of Exeter, 4th – 6th September 2019


WG convenors: Michael Carklin (University of South Wales), Kay Hepplewhite (Northumbria University), Matthew Jennings (Ulster University), Zoe Zontou (Liverpool Hope University)



Theorising Horizons of Possibilities, Openings, and Futures in Applied Theatre Practice

  Our working group conference theme this year focuses on the themes of ‘possibilities’, ‘openings’ and ‘futures’. We are building on last year’s events in which we explored ideas of ‘risk and vulnerability’ and the joint interim event with the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy WG on the theme of ‘Magic, Exits/Endings and Water: How does performance escape?’ Our focus is now shifting towards a theorising of ideas that seem so prevalent, and indeed urgent, in the context of contemporary social, political and global precarity.

  In response to exits and endings, the ASTWG will focus on possibilities, openings and what lies ahead to look (in)to the future of applied and social theatre.

  The past is important to the future and to now; Hughes and Nicholson’s Critical Perspectives on Applied Theatre notes that applied theatre’s largely undocumented history is significant to socially engaged art of the present. They frame applied theatre as an ecology of practices concerned with a reciprocity of the material and the human. Their book presents a context of ‘inequitable distribution of wealth, and the political implications of understanding the material world as an active force in everyday life’, as well as concern for ‘the sensory, embodied, affective and place-based qualities of applied theatre’ (2016: 9). This echoes Berardi’s (2017) notion of ‘Futurability’ by which he refers to  our capacity for imagining beyond our current parameters as a way to remember that even within the darkness of our current crisis, the horizon of possibility lies dormant. We also draw on Gallagher and Freeman’s (2016) book In Defence of Theatre and their responses to ‘audacious’ question: ‘why theatre now?’

For the TaPRA Conference at the University of Exeter in 2019, we would like to explore theoretical underpinnings and binary concepts of ending and beginning, with a focus on opening and possibility. Performances are welcome. Indicative questions to consider for proposals may include,

The future:

  • What is possible and unrealised in applied and social theatre?
  • Does the past give clues for how we go forward?
  • Lessons from history.
  • The future of theatre in a social context.

  Openings, beginning and the start:

  • What is the significance of the opening? Does the end of the work matter?
  • Where/when/how, does creativity happen?
  • How is the beginning of the work informed by a desired future?
  • Longevity, reaction and temporality.

  Binaries and opposites:

  • Perennial conflicts and productive resolution.
  • Differences, creativity, past and future.
  • Organic fluidity or flow.

A theatricalisation of practices:

  • Entrances and exits on the stage of applied theatre activities.
  • Performance as/in/of applied theatre
  • Is the work losing sight of its origins/source?
  • Where is the drama?
  • Who are the actors?
  • How do/should we act?

The Prologue as opening:

  • What do we need to know before the work starts?
  • How do we prepare for practice?

Endings and openings as gendered anatomy:

  • The vagina as opening – metaphors for the work.
  • Is applied and social theatre a gendered activity?

Openings and employment:

  • Where and what are the jobs in applied and social theatre?

Berardi, F. (2017) Futurability: the age of impotence and the horizon of possibility. London: Verso.

Gallagher, K., & B. Freeman (Eds.) (2016). In Defence of Theatre: Aesthetic Practices and Social Interventions.Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press.

Hughes, J. and Nicholson, H. (Eds.) (2016) Critical Perspectives on Applied Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Submitting a proposal

Please send a 300-word (max.) proposal and a short biography in a Word document via email.

Please also include precise details of your resourcing needs, for example, any audio-visual technology, or a particular type of space (e.g. drama studio) that you will need to make your presentation.

Email abstracts and information to the Working Group conveners, Michael Carklin, Kay Hepplewhite Matthew Jennings, and Zoe Zontou at appliedandsocial@tapra.org

The deadline for the submission of proposals is Tuesday 16th April 2019.

  Early Career Researchers Bursary Scheme: If you are an Early Career Researcher, then you are eligible to be considered for a TaPRA ECR Bursary. Please follow this link for more information, and please indicate on your proposal whether you fit the criteria and wish to be considered for the bursary scheme: http://tapra.org/bursaries/. Postgraduate Bursary Scheme: There will be a separate call for PG Bursaries later in the year, but please do indicate in your proposal whether you are planning on applying to the scheme.  

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.

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