TaPRA 2020, 2 – 4 September, Liverpool Hope University, Documenting Performance Working Group CfP: Speculation and Fabulation

Deadline: Friday 17 April 2020

An important theme that emerged from contributions to the 2019 Documenting Performance WG presentations on ‘Wayward Temporalities’ was a focus on the complex evidentiary relations of performance and its documents – particularly in the production and representation of historicity, futurity, and contemporaneity. Continuing to think about ways in which the material, the real, the ‘truthful’, and the fictional might be problematised in relation to the performance document, this year’s Working Group shifts to focus on the theme of the speculative and the fabulative in performance documentation.
In Tavia Nyong’o’s recent theory of ‘afro-fabulation’, fictions ‘do not simply attach themselves to moments of idle fantasy, play, instruction, or other socially acceptable occasions for storytelling’ (2019: 7), but are instead constitutive of a critical and tactical corrective current in black representation. In such instances, as in Saidiya Hartman’s ‘critical fabulation’ (2008), and Donna Haraway’s ‘speculative fabulation’ (2016), fictionalising operates in terms of the insurgent interrogation of social and political reality, towards the production of different futures. Ana Vujanović speaks to ‘second hand knowledge’ as constituted by Western epistemologies in relation to speculation, mis-circulation and hyper-exchange (2013:123), pointing to its centrality not just in places rendered peripheral to centres of knowledge production, but as an embedded procedure. And Rey Chow speaks to this through the notion of entanglements, as ‘linkages and enmeshments that keep things apart [and]voidings and uncoverings that hold things together’ (2012:12).
Post-positivist approaches to the history of theatre and performance have long shown that reading the performance document can never be an uncomplicated act of extraction (i.e. of an essential truth), and the production of documentary evidence will always be partial and subjective. However, there is further work to be done in understanding the aesthetic and political dimensions of the speculative and the fabulative in and through performance documentation. In particular, the threat posed by claims to so-called ‘post-truth’ or ‘alternative facts’ demands a return to questions of the real and the factual, and may throw queer, feminist, and BAME speculative and fabulative tactics into further conflict.
How do speculative or fabulative narratives function (and are they valued) in performance research and practice? What are their risks? How does fiction operate as a critical lens? How might artists and scholars account for the speculative and the fabulative given the dangers of so-called ‘post-truth’ politics? How might the speculative and the fabulative be figured or theorised in relation to the performance archive? What are the sensitivities of appropriateness and/or appropriation in the speculative and the fabulative performance document? What might the relationships be between speculation and the improvised and/or anticipatory?
Possible topics may include but are not limited to:
– Acts of speculation and fabulation in or through the performance document
– Queer, feminist, and BAME theories of fabulation
– Theorising the speculative in the performance archive
– Interrelationships between fact and fiction in theatre, performance, live art, and visual culture
– Fiction as critical intervention
– Political reality and (il)legibility in documentary practice
– Fictionalising and storytelling in performance documentation
– Speculative and fabulative futurity and/or world-building
We invite proposals for a range of presentations, including research papers, practice research demonstrations, workshops and performances.
Coronavirus Disclaimer
Whilst we are continuing to make plans for the Annual TaPRA Conference to go ahead as scheduled at LHU in September, we are also working on contingency arrangements should government advice restrict large gatherings. We will keep all members informed of any changes.
Process for submitting a proposal
Please send a 300 word (max) proposal and short biography to the Working Group Convenors (Dr Harriet Curtis, Dr Diana Damian Martin, and Dr Eleanor Roberts) at documentingperf@tapra.org by 23.59 on 17 April 2020.
Originally proposals were due by 9th April, however due to the recent UCU strike action and the rapidly evolving situation regarding Covid-19 we are extending the proposal submission deadline until Friday 17th April.
Please include an optional 2nd choice of Working Group (this can also include the TaPRA Gallery, where appropriate). If we are unable to accept your proposal, we will then pass it on to your 2nd choice for consideration. Your proposal will not be less likely to be accepted by our Working Group if you indicate a 2nd choice.
Please note: You may only submit a proposal to one working group (or else the PaR Gallery) for this conference, proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
Working Group Convenors will inform you whether or not your proposal has been accepted as quickly as possible, and will offer brief summary feedback to all proposals that could not be accommodated. If we have passed your proposal on to your 2nd choice of Working Group, we will let you know this as well. Please note that putting together a full draft schedule for the conference is a complex process, and therefore your patience while this process is ongoing, and prompt responses to acceptances are much appreciated. Convenors will have completed their draft schedules by 18 May 2020.
Conference Costs
The early bird registration fee for this year’s conference will be £215 (standard) and £112 (concession), including TaPRA membership for the year, rising to £245 (standard) and £142 (concession) after 19th June.
It will also be possible to register for a ‘half conference’ – that is, Day 1 to after lunch Day 2; OR all of Day 2; OR from 4pm on Day 2 & all of Day 3. ‘Half conference’ fees are: £125 (standard) and £65 (concession), rising to £140 (standard) and £79 (concession) after 19th June.
All of the above conference fees include TaPRA membership for one year (starting on 2 September 2020).
On-campus conference accommodation will cost no more than £50 per night. The conference dinner will cost £40 (£35 for concession delegates booking in the early bird period).
Please note: 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.
Concession definition: Concession rates apply to all postgraduate researchers, unwaged, unaffiliated, and retired researchers, and staff on contracts of either less than .6FTE or else fixed for less than 12 months. These categories apply to the attendee’s circumstances on the first day of the conference.
There will be up to 5 bursaries available for postgraduate researchers and up to 3 available for unaffiliated presenters/contingent faculty. These are highly competitive and so we would encourage everyone who is able to secure institutional support where possible.
Each bursary includes: Conference fee waiver and one year of TaPRA membership; up to £300 toward travel, accommodation, childcare or access costs (the TaPRA Administrator will book accommodation; travel fees or access costs can be reclaimed quickly on production of receipts).
You must submit your application for a bursary at the same time as your proposal to the Working Group (as a separate document). Please note that PG students will require a supporting statement from their supervisor or programme leader, which may take extra time to source. Full details, criteria, and application forms are available on the TaPRA website (http://tapra.org/bursaries/).

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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