TaPRA 2021, 6-10 Sept, online & co-hosted by Liverpool Hope University, Applied and Social Theatre CfP: Pasts, Genealogies and Antecedents

Deadline: Friday 9 April 2021

To enable us to move forward, at a time of tremendous global shifts, the Applied and Social Theatre working group propose to critically re/examine themes of ‘pasts’, ‘genealogies’ and ‘antecedents’. Our focus shifts towards a historicizing of practices that act to inform the next stage of applied and social theatre praxis. By revisiting pasts, this discussion does not intend to impose new grand narratives or dominant texts for applied theatre, but instead seeks to review/shake the assumed foundations of current positions within current precarious contexts and a lack of fixity in the field. Instead, by considering possible pasts, we may open up a critical view of our heritage and make space for new frames of reference as we move forward. A decade has passed since Nicholson’s (2010) analysis of the history of theatre education and applied theatre, specifically the principles and values that have informed the fields’ development. Kershaw’s dissection of ‘the late pasts of applied theatre and community performance’ (2016: 15) suggests that the field is under-historicized. Building on more recent commitments to addressing this gap, such as Freebody et al’s historicization of applied theatre practices in relation to theories of change (2018), we now want to provoke critical questions about how these histories and our understandings of them have evolved, and how this might influence contemporary research and practice. At TaPRA’s annual conference at Liverpool Hope University 2021, we will explore historical underpinnings and critically consider histories of applied and social theatres, with a focus on how we (re)perform these pasts through our practices and research. Performances, provocations, posters, papers or other forms are welcome, to be shared via a virtual platform. Please indicate your style of presentation and time needed to help us design the schedule. Indicative questions and topics for proposals may include:

  • The past as a possibility: what histories are relatively unknown in applied and social theatre
  • Remembrance, archiving, documentation, visibility, authority, representation: what gets recorded and why?
  • Oral history and living history
  • Origin myths and invented memories
  • Is there a canon for applied and social theatre?
  • What are the useful lessons from antecedents?
  • What do decolonized histories of our practice look like?
  • Feminist approaches to applied histories
  • Queer studies of applied histories
  • Naturalised approaches to histories
  • Intersectional and ecological approaches to applied theatre history
  • Reviewing the old-fashioned or out-moded in forms and languages of socially engaged practices
  • History and the future of theatre in a social context
Papers might explore:
  • community theatres
  • histories of relational practice
  • “carefull” practice
  • drama and theatre in social works
  • participation, people and politics
  • de-colonised/ing practices
  • theatre for/by children and young people
  • education, Theatre and Drama in Education, drama in schools
  • performances not usually considered applied theatre
  • performance remains as part of the materiality of performance histories.


  • Freebody, K., Balfour, M., Finneran, M. & Anderson, M. (eds) (2018) Applied Theatre: Understanding Change. London: Springer.
  • Kershaw, B. (2016) ‘Toward a historiography of the absent: on the late pasts of applied theatre and community performance’ in Hughes, J. & Nicholson, H. (ed.) Critical Perspectives on Applied Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nicholson, H. (2010) ‘The promises of history: pedagogic principles and processes of change’, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 15:2, 147-154

Process for submitting a proposal

Proposals must be submitted to appliedandsocial@tapra.org by 23.59 on 9th April 2021.

Please email all abstracts (no more than 300 words in length), an additional few sentences of biographical information and precise details of the audio-visual technology you will need to make your presentation.

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.  


We 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 17th May 2021.

TaPRA Conference 2021 Registration Prices

Full Price Early Bird: £65 + £35 (TaPRA membership) = £100

Concession Early Bird: £33 + £17 (TaPRA membership) = £50

Full Price Standard: £85 + £35 (TaPRA membership) = £120

Concession Standard: £43 + £17 (TaPRA membership) = £60

The registration costs above will pay for digital infrastructure and administrative support for the conference, alongside fees for the keynote speaker and artists contributing to the programme.

Please note: All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event.

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 10 bursaries available for postgraduate researchers and 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 a conference fee waiver and one year of TaPRA membership. There is also a separate discretionary fund towards access costs such as digital access, key materials, childcare and so forth. You must submit your application for a bursary at the same time as your proposal to the Working Group (within the same document as your abstract/bio) If applying for a bursary, please include the following:
  • Whether you are applying as a postgraduate researcher OR unaffiliated presenter/contingent faculty
  • A statement of up to 100 words explaining why you are applying for the bursary
  • An indication of any access needs for which you would like to apply to the discretionary fund: what they are and an indication of costs
Decisions about bursaries will be made by Friday 7th May and notifications will be issued by this group shortly after. The criteria for awarding bursaries are:
  1. Quality and strength of submitted abstract.
  2. Strategic case made by the WG conveners outlining the significance of the applicant’s contribution to the WG sessions (connection to advertised theme, methodological approach, expected outcomes).

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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