TaPRA 2023, Documenting Performance Working Group: Imagining Otherwise

Deadline: Tuesday 11 April 2023

Documenting Performance Working Group
Imagining Otherwise
TaPRA 2023, 30 August – 1 September, The University of Leeds

Imagination is not an individual act, rather a collective and necessary endeavour. In Lola Olufemi’s Experiments in Imagining Otherwise (2021) we, as readers, are interpellated into the reimagining and reorganisation of social relations, not via individual thought experiments but via active and collective practice in favour of a radical interdependency. We are living in times of unprecedented and multiple crises: the humanitarian and displacement crisis caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine; climate change; the cost of living; the energy crisis; the healthcare crisis; the mental health crisis; the ongoing trauma wrought by COVID19. Equally the ongoing discontent for current societal conditions have prompted, in 2023, the highest number of strike days across education, transport, civil service, and healthcare to be taken since the 1970s. For the TaPRA conference the Documenting Performance Working group wishes to address the crisis of imagination, reworking this as an opportunity to imagine otherwise, to reconfigure temporality through affect, intuition, collective storytelling, archival evidence, and sensorial approximations. We are interested in how the experiential might tip into the experimental and thereby offer levers or openings for revolutionary moments.

Recent literature in performance studies has embraced articulations of ‘living into otherwise possibilities’ (Crawley, 2017). For Ashon T Crawley it is in the infinite forms for living, the plurality of existence detectable through sensuous approximations that multiple imaginative avenues open up. Crawley, alongside other authors such as Katherine McKittrick (2020), call for the ‘necessary disruption’ of existing epistemological parameters, disciplinary divides and objective obstacles that curtail the plurality that is otherwise available. Central to Crawley’s argument is an acknowledgement that under current configurations ‘black flesh cannot easily breathe’ (2017,3). To undo this, Crawley, appeals to the ‘sonic event’ as that which is always in movement and ongoing, thereby able to interrupt and intervene in current societal constructions. For Dylan Robinson in Hungry Listening (2020) writing otherwise about listening is imperative to dealing with structures of inclusion within music and performance. Dylan highlights how ‘settler colonial structures’ are recognised as the means of doing things that occur unmarked and hold ‘structures of certainty’ thereby guiding ‘normative […] forms of listening privilege’ (2020, 10). A decolonial listening practice requires the relinquishing of certainty and the adoption of an approach ready to admit we are no longer sure what listening even is.

In the context of the need to reconsider current societal structures, evidently the cause of ongoing personal and collective crises, we might ask how the documentation of performance can assist in the task of imagining otherwise? What might a performance studies scholarship that embraces radical interdependency feel/look/sound/read like? How might the undoing of disciplinary boundaries assist in liberating sensorial approximations and imaginative leaps? What practical tactics might we deploy to imagine otherwise? What are the weak points in the current system, can we plug these with our otherwise imaginings? What are the structures and infrastructures needed to conjure the revolutionary moment we need?

We welcome proposals for papers, panels, and creative delivery methods for our Documenting Performance Working Group session at the TaPRA 2023 hybrid conference.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Sensorial approximations and perceptive framing
  • Archives and their potential to undo dominant narratives
  • Performance documents and what they reveal about otherwise forms for creative living
  • Black feminism and anti-colonial thought
  • Anarchism and its potential for creative disruption
  • Attunement to latent revolutionary energies
  • Reading and re-reading to unhinge
  • Stories and what their collective telling/retelling might perform
  • Sonic zones and their potential for imaginary or rebellious actions
  • Queer imaginaries
  • Reappropriation of terminology as tactics for imagining otherwise e.g. smuggling
  • Sonic insurgency and acts of intervention

Conference structure

The 2023 annual TaPRA conference at the University of Leeds will be a hybrid event, facilitating participation by online delegates alongside those attending in-person.

Since our conference in 2021, we have been able to experience many benefits of online conferencing, such as increased opportunity for international presenters, lower financial costs to participate, greater accessibility for those with caring responsibilities etc. The 2023 conference at Leeds 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 via https://forms.gle/7zdmdbt9StaxjbEh9 by 23.59 on 11 April 2023.

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. You can, however, include an optional second 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 second choice for consideration. Your proposal will not be less likely to be accepted by our Working Group if you indicate a second choice.


Working Group Convenors will inform you whether or not your proposal has been accepted as quickly as possible and by no later than 3 May 2023. 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 2023.

Conference costs

The early bird registration fee will be:

£220 standard in person attendance
£120 concession in person attendance
£88 standard online attendance
£48 online concession online attendance

Prices will increase to the following after 23 June 2023:
£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 30 August 2023.

​On-campus ​conference accommodation will cost £58 per night.

Please note: All presenters must be registered for the conference by 14 July 2023; this includes those presenting online.

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.


These financial awards support presenters who are postgraduate researchers or unaffiliated/contingent faculty. One award is available for each working group (14 total). Awards can support individuals or teams (i.e., co-presenters). The awards cover:
  • Conference fee waiver;
  • One-year TaPRA membership; and
  • Access to a discretionary fund (maximum £300 per award*) to cover expenses and access costs, such as: travel; accommodation; sustenance; digital access; childcare etc.

These awards are highly competitive and we encourage everyone who is able to secure institutional support where possible. Applications for bursaries must be made at the same time you submit your proposal to the Working Group. This must be within the same document as your abstract/bio.

If applying for a bursary, please include the following:

  • Whether you are applying as a postgraduate or unaffiliated/contingent faculty member;
  • Whether you are applying for an individual or joint award*;
  • A statement of up to 100 words explaining why you are applying for the bursary; and
  • An outline of any expenses/access needs for which you would like to apply to the discretionary fund – including details of expected costs.
Application criteria:
  • Quality and strength of the submitted abstract; and
  • Strategic case made by the WG convenors 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 application 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 by 12 May. Notifications will be issued shortly thereafter.

* The discretionary fund of £300 is available per award, whether the application is to support an individual or a team. I.e., an award made to a team of two presenters means they have access to £300 between them, not each.

TaPRA at the University of Leeds

TaPRA 2023 will be held at the University of Leeds, 30 August – 1 September. The conference will take place on the university campus, with working group sessions and keynote talks held in the Michael Sadler Building, named after a notable figure in the history of modern art in Britain. The main plenary will take place in live streaming enabled Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, with additional sessions taking place in breakout rooms across the grade II listed, art deco Parkinson building. Performances will make use of a variety of dedicated performance spaces including the Workshop Theatre, Banham Theatre and stage@leeds.

The conference dinner will be held in The Refectory, a beautiful contemporary venue at the heart of the main campus famous for its musical history. The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Bob Marley have all graced this venue with their presence and perhaps one of the most famous live recordings ever made, The Who Live at Leeds, was recorded here. On campus, accommodation is available during the conference at our flagship residence, Storm Jameson Court. Offering a 24 hour reception and access to a large social space this is an ideal place to stay. Guests of Storm Jameson are also able to make use of the on campus gym and pool facilities at the recently renovated Edge Gym.

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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