TaPRA 2023: Performance, Identity and Community Working Group: Addressing performance

Deadline: Tuesday 11 April 2023

Performance, Identity and Community Working Group
Addressing performance
TaPRA 2023, 30 August – 1 September, The University of Leeds

The Performance, Identity, Community working group aims to build on the productive conversations at the last conference by examining our modes, methods and movements in terms of the disciplines associated with performance. In recent years we have explored themes of redress and reparation, queer diasporas, cruel optimism as well as anarchy and desire. In doing so we have invited researchers to share on the place and role of theatre and performance in addressing (or perpetuating) inequalities and injustices, noting that it is not only the object of study that may concern us, but also how dynamics of production and spectatorship forge epistemic norms across the wide range of concerns for performance, identity and community. While we are thinking more critically about pedagogy, research practices are often hard to evaluate. If, as bell hooks suggests, we ‘teach to transgress’, how do we research and write to transgress, too?

In their collection The Ends of Performance Peggy Phelan and Jill Lane (1998) speak to ‘congenial, albeit often secret, relation between futures and ends’ (5) arguing for a space ‘between’ (8). Twenty-four years later, in order to revisit what must die, must end, or what may be reimagined within the discipline, what does that invitation need to include?

In Essex, Swati Arora invited thinking ethically and collectively as one means of resisting some of the challenges of eurocentrism, epistemic whiteness and atomisation entrenched by the neoliberal academy. Might we aim to take up Black geographer Katherine McKittrick’s modality of addressing the discipline itself as she does in Dear Science (2021)? This has been a mode in the collective dossier ‘Climate Change and the Decolonized Future of Theatre’ (Nicholson-Sanz et al, 2020). How might our collective efforts to centre performance, identity & community result in direct address to ‘Dear Performance Studies’? How do we detangle how performance knows by addressing methodologies, epistemologies and models that we replicate through what is sanctioned, accepted or awarded in institutional logics?

PIC will aim to co-host one of our panels with Theatre and Performance Histories, so we are particularly interested in offerings that address histories and legacies. By contributing to the working group you may want to propose something to do with:

  • Attachments (cruel optimism/kinship/coalitions/allyships/friendships/promises of specific futures)
  • Legacies and inheritances (allegiance/alliances/empire/money)
  • Violence (disruptions/fissures/wounding and intimacies of violence)
  • Labour and storying in performance studies (McKittrick’s idea of ‘rebellious methodological work of sharing ideas in an unkind world’ (2021: 10)
  • What/whose modes of address are centred?
  • Addressing hierarchies (collectives/collaboration/epistemic decentring/thinking with others and how to practise and model different forms of learning and unlearning)
  • Invitation to think backwards and forwards through performances that resist unfreedom (Phelan & Lane, 1998; McKittrick, 2021)
  • Ethics – placing and locating practices/ positionality

We welcome papers in all forms, including short performances, a conversation between speakers and/or pre-recorded presentations. We also want to encourage collaborations between academics and artists and seek to place value on knowledges that extend beyond the academy. Embedding learning from the 2021 and 2022 conferences, we will continue to work with the idea of friendship as methodology, rooted in dialogue. Our programming will thus seek to offer moments of this generative cross-pollination and allow time for conversations, rather than a traditional Q&A.

We invite diverse modes of sharing research, including, but not limited to, short provocations, practice demonstrations, performative presentations, formal papers, etc. Please indicate your preference of format clearly in your proposal, with a specific breakdown of any technical requirements. We will endeavour to accommodate all requests, but please be aware that we are working within finite resources and we may need to suggest alternative formats.

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 at pic@tapra.org by 23.59 on 11 April 2023 (and also indicate if you’re wanting to apply for the co-hosted panel with Theatre and Performance Histories).

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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