TaPRA 2021, 6-10 Sept, online & co-hosted by Liverpool Hope University, Popular Performance CfP: Adaptation, Evolution and Survival

Deadline: Friday 9 April 2021

For TaPRA 2021, the Popular Performance Working Group is interested in exploring how and why popular performance forms have evolved throughout history and the challenges they’ve overcome to ensure their survival.

Covid-19 has forced all performance genres to adapt and embrace change. Popular Performance in particular has been hard hit with social distancing forbidding the close interaction of performers and audience members alike. How can live stand-up function when masks obscure faces and laughter is discouraged? Are social bubbles the only option for magicians and their assistants? What alternatives are there to shouting “It’s Behind You!” in pantomime?

Despite adversity, popular performance practitioners have come up with creative solutions to pandemic problems. Continuing to comment on and capture the present, performances have embraced new platforms from car park comedy gigs to close up magic via Zoom. In addition to new platforms for performance, streaming technology has provided greater agency and accountability for performers and audience members in the delivery and consumption of entertainment.

But whilst popular performance situates itself in the present and thrives on responding to contemporary culture, many of its British forms are rooted in imperialism and continue to be exclusionary and discriminatory. With the internet democratising access, exposure and collaboration, how are practitioners using new platforms and networks to confront and address inherited pasts?

For TaPRA 2021, we are particularly interested to explore the following areas relating to the Working Group’s theme of Adaptation, Evolution and Survival:

  • Definitions of liveness (streaming, AR, VR, on-demand, domestic and open-air performance)
  • Competition (High Art vs Low Art, Fringe vs Mainstream, Local vs Global)
  • Communities of Performance (Performers, audiences, networks of support, sites of performance)
  • Inclusion and Exclusion (democratisation, inclusive practices, representation, discrimination)
  • Drivers of change (culture, economy, society, technology, science, politics)

Process for submitting a proposal

Proposals must be submitted to popularperf@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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