TaPRA 2022, 12–14 September, University of Essex, Applied and Social Theatre Working Group CfP: Power in Praxis: Issues of Access, Participation and Inclusion

Deadline: Friday 1 April 2022

We invite contributions to discuss, debate and dissect the complex issues of power and participation in applied theatre practice and research. Much practice in applied and social theatre aims to tackle exclusion and enhance inclusion, setting up a binary construct through which to measure our work. Yet, in progressive practice, we recognise: Access is not the solution to inequality and oppression. Access will not shift our understandings of power away from the social constructions of power that are built upon legacies of oppression. Even amongst the marginalised, there is a need to acknowledge how people who are multiply marginalised experience marginalisation differently. Access is fluid and relational and must therefore be constantly negotiated. (Conroy et al 2020: 5). Building on our last conference, where we examined history, legacy and antecedents in applied and social theatre, this year we seek to move the conversation to urgent matters of the present. Discussing tactics ‘to make it through the neoliberal academic day-to-day’, Clara Nizzard urges us to: ‘Pass around tools. Pass around power’ (in Martin et al. 2019). We recognise this imperative, asking how we democratise and share power within our practices. These questions also invite critique of the structures, hegemonies and expectations we uphold through our work. As Selina Busby describes, ‘it is easy to “teach” students and participants to accept oppressive power structures. Education and Applied Theatre are well-equipped to produce a docile, well-behaved group of subjects, while reinforcing the power dynamics that create and maintain racial, colonial, gender and class inequality’ (2021: 108). Speaking beyond our discipline, Sara Ahmed’s analysis of how power operates within institutions provides us with a warning that ‘the very promise of inclusion can be the concealment and thus extension of exclusion. This is why a description of the process ‘‘of being included’’ matters’ (2012: 183). Exclusionary discourses, seismic political and social changes have put pressure on engaged performance to address issues of inclusion, within performances, groups and workshops. With social and political divisions causing increasing global friction and significant cultural and material consequences, we want to consider the complex negotiations of power that are fundamental to the ethos of applied and social theatre. Drawing from these reference points as a framework, at this year’s conference we invite your responses. Proposals may wish to discuss:

  • the exclusionary politics of the border
  • post-Brexit inclusion and exclusions
  • digital developments and the facilitation of participation
  • intersectionality in practice
  • applied theatre, power and climate justice
  • ethics and power
  • inclusive pedagogies
  • discourses within systems of inclusion/exclusion
  • the power of ‘care-full’ practice
Questions could include: How can drama, theatre and performance activity enable participants to be or feel less excluded? Who is including who in what? Through what mechanisms does applied theatre include marginalised groups, identities and communities? What are the most impactful and efficacious strategies? How do we as academics, researchers and practitioners support and promote this potential? How do applied/social theatre practices move between the margin and the centre? How do groups formed by identity utilise theatre and drama to build individual resistance to exclusion and discrimination? What are the challenges within or brought by this? Is it possible for applied theatre to reduce damage to marginalised or economically disadvantaged communities? How is power situated and enacted within our own research community? Ahmed, Sara. (2012) On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. London: Duke University Press. Busby, S. (2021) Applied Theatre: A Pedagogy of Utopia. London: Methuen Drama. Conroy, C., Ong, A., & Rodricks, D.J. (eds.). (2020) On Access in Applied Theatre and Drama Education. London: Routledge. Martin, D.D., Green, S., Nizard, C., Schmidt, T., Shulman, M. & Solga, K. (2019) ‘Tactics: practical and imagined’, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 24:3, 438-445.

Conference structure

The 2022 annual TaPRA conference at the University of Essex will be a hybrid event, facilitating participation by online delegates alongside those attending in-person. The 2021 TaPRA conference demonstrated the many benefits of online conferencing; increased opportunity for international presenters, lower financial costs to participate, greater accessibility for those with caring responsibilities etc. The 2022 conference at Essex aims to retain the wider opportunities for engagement that online platforms offer, whilst also creating a space for in-person engagement and social interaction. In the event of a cancellation of in-person conference activities due to, for instance, COVID restrictions, the event would run entirely online and all registered in person delegates would be offered the opportunity to attend as online delegates, with the difference between in-person and online registration fees refunded.

Process for submitting a proposal

Please email abstracts (no more than 300 words in length), and an additional few sentences of biographical information to the Working Group Convenors (appliedandsocial@tapra.org) by 23.59 on 1 April 2022. IMPORTANT: Please indicate at the point of submission if you intend to attend the conference in person or online. This information is vital so that the conference organisers can effectively plan the infrastructure for the event and Working Group Convenors can schedule panel sessions effectively. You should also indicate if you have any specific requirements relating to space or AV technology as part of this submission. 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 by no later than 22nd April 2022. Convenors will offer brief summary feedback to all proposals that could not be accommodated. ​​Please note that putting together a full draft schedule for the conference is a complex process, particularly as all sessions will need to be accessible to delegates attending in person and online. Therefore your patience while this process is ongoing, and prompt responses to acceptances, are much appreciated. Convenors will have completed their draft schedules by the end of May 2022.

Conference costs

The early bird registration fee will be: £220 – standard in person attendance £120 – concession in person attendance £88 – online attendance £48 – online concession attendance Prices will increase to the following after 24th June 2022: £250 – standard in person attendance £150 – concession in person attendance £100 – online attendance £60 – online concession attendance All of the above conference fees include TaPRA membership for one year (£35 standard / £17 concession) starting 12th September 2022. ​On-campus ​conference accommodation will cost no more than £55 per night. The conference dinner will cost £45. There will also be an opportunity to donate towards a conference dinner fund for unwaged/unaffiliated colleagues and postgraduate researchers. Please note: All presenters must be registered for the conference by 15th July 2022; this includes those presenting online. Numbers for in-person attendance will be more limited in 2022 than previous years so we advise early booking. If you have registered for in person attendance and find yourself unable to attend you will be able to access the conference as an online delegate but will not be eligible for a refund. Concession definition: Concession rates apply to all postgraduate researchers, unwaged, unaffiliated, and retired researchers, and staff on contracts of either less than 0.6FTE 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 14 bursaries (one per working group) 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 expenses and access costs such as travel, accommodation, digital access, childcare and so forth up to a maximum of £300 (justified and costed) per applicant. 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 outline of any expenses/access needs for which you would like to apply to the discretionary fund: what they are and costs
Decisions about bursaries will be made by 6th May and notifications will be issued 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). Conveners in each working group will consider applications according to the criteria above and will nominate one applicant to put forward for a bursary. Final decisions about awards, including requests for expenses and access costs, will be made by the TaPRA Executive Committee.

TaPRA at the University of Essex

For the 2022 conference, the Working Group sessions and Keynote talks will be located in the Essex Business School (EBS) on the Colchester campus; the UK’s first zero-carbon business school building, which features an indoor winter garden (https://www.eventessex.co.uk/portfolio/the-essex-business-school/). Working Group sessions will take place in Zoom-enabled lecture-room and classroom spaces in EBS, with live-streamed keynotes delivered from two large cutting edge Lecture Auditoriums. Live performance will be hosted at Essex’s on-campus Lakeside Theatre (https://lakesidetheatre.org.uk), which also has facilities to stream performances for those attending online. While the Practice-as-Research Gallery will be hosted in Essex’s iconic brutalist building, The Hexagon (https://www.eventessex.co.uk/portfolio/the-hexagon/), which sits in the heart of the University’s Green Flag Award-winning campus (https://www.essex.ac.uk/news/2021/10/13/green-flag-award-2021). The conference will have technical support from Essex’s AVS team, with training sessions provided for Working Group convenors in advance of the conference to support the delivery of blended WG sessions to mixed rooms of in-person/online delegates. For those in-person delegates who wish to attend the conference meal, food will be served in the Garden Suite of Wivenhoe House, a beautiful 18th Century four-star hotel on campus (in walking distance of the Essex Business School). This hotel/restaurant is near the quayside village of Wivenhoe, and minutes away from Britain’s oldest recorded town, Colchester (https://www.wivenhoehouse.co.uk). The meal will be followed by a live DJ set after dinner.

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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