TaPRA 2019, Exeter, Scenography WG CfP: Scenography and the staging of place

Deadline: Tuesday 16 April 2019

The Scenography Working Group invites proposals for our forthcoming meeting at the annual TaPRA conference in Exeter in September 2019, on the theme of scenography and the staging of place.

In both its theory and its practice, scenography traverses concrete and conceptual engagements with place. On the one hand, it is concerned with the aesthetic, material, and affective properties of objects, spaces, materials, and how these negotiate their relationships with their surroundings and their audiences. Beyond – and through – these concerns, scenography asks larger questions about the nature of the relationship(s) between body and environment, asking what it is to be in the (staged) world. If, as Daniel Johnston suggests, actors are ‘manual philosophers’ engaged in a philosophical navigation of the relationships between self and world (2017: 4), the same must also be true of performance designers. Thus, the scenographic offering of a staged place – or a staging in place – invites further consideration in terms of how it relates to understandings of being in the world.

Questions around the rendering of space and place have long been at the heart of scenographic theory and practice. McKinney and Butterworth’s often quoted definition of scenography as the ‘manipulation and orchestration of the performance environment’ (2009: 4) speaks to a malleability of space that invites a kind of exchange with both performers and audience. More recently, Rachel Hann has examined scenography as a crating of place orientation (2019). A number of researchers have also discussed scenography as a socially engaged practice that is able to address questions of place (and the local) through scenography’s strategies in relation to site in performance. For this call we are interested in extending these conversations to consider the affective, material, dramaturgical, political or social impact of scenography’s staging of place.     Taking our cue from the conversations led by the Society of British Theatre Designers this year on the theme of staging places in the lead up to and as part of the 2019 UK exhibit for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, we invite proposals that consider what is at stakein the scenographic staging of place in live performance.

We invite presentation proposals from a wide variety of scholars and practitioners. Fully embracing the interdisciplinarity of the field, we are keen to include proposals that would be suitable for panel sessions open to members of other working groups, or joint proposals from members of more than one working group.   As a working group we actively promote practice-as-research methods and welcome proposals in a variety of different presentation formats. These formats can include, but are not limited to:

  • paper/practice presentation
  • PechaKucha*
  • Exhibition and Installation work
  • Performance Practice

* A PowerPoint presentation with 20 images/sides set to automatically progress after 20 seconds. Presenters are then invited to speak alongside their images if they wish. This format is ideal for sharing image-based provocations or artistic practice in a time efficient manner.

If you plan to submit a proposal that includes a technical or spatial requirement, early consultation with us is important if you are planning something large, unusual or complicated. If this applies, please contact the working group convenors to discuss your requirements before you submit.

Suggested topics relating to the broad theme of ‘Scenography and the Staging of Place’ include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ecologies of constructed scenographic places
  • Regional scenographies; performance design in (or with) place
  • Immersive performance practices and their articulation of place
  • Elisions between theories of space and of place in performance
  • The role and impact of scenographic materials in the staging of place
  • The relationships between audience, performers, and places
  • Ideas of how designers stage, or engage with, place

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 – Katherine Graham, Kathrine Sandys, David Shearing and Lucy Thornett – at scenography@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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