TaPRA 2024 Performance and New Technologies working group

Deadline: Wednesday 10 April 2024

Staying with Postdigital Troubles: Bodies, Affects, Identities and Social Changes in Technologically Enabled Performances 

Drawing on definitions of the postdigital as the convergence of human, machines, and data from performance studies (Causey 2016; Bay-Cheng 2018; Jarvis and Savage 2021) and digital humanities (Bridle 2023; Seymour 2019), this call responds to an urgent need to understand how embodied simulation and the affective status of digital interactions can provoke social change. For the annual 2024 TaPRA Conference, The Performance and New Technologies Working Group propose a reflection on how digital technologies have reconfigured perceptions and experiences of body, politics and identity into a hybrid of the real and the fictional in post-pandemic societies. 

Far-right movements such as QAnon, culture war grievances, the climate change ‘hoax’, and anti-vax conspiracies have spawned mass participatory online communities, exposing them to the risk of descending into digital ‘mobocracy’ (Aiyar 2021) through different manifestations of extremist politics, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, performed as trolling, harassment campaigns, catfishing, and multiplayer gaming (Ebner 2020). 

Yet online spaces also enable progressive movements to ‘stage struggles across boundaries of place, ethnicity and gender, and to create a shared, progressive consciousness’ (Mason 2021). The social affectivity of postdigital performances may lie in replicating this consciousness until it becomes embedded, meme-like, in popular culture. 

These ‘performances of belief’ (Drayton and Dunne-Howrie 2024) produce immersive informational realities that structure new experiences of self, community, time and place. 

Against this backdrop, we would like participants to engage with the following questions: How can technologically enabled performances articulate feelings of cultural stagnation, status anxiety and political alienation endemic to postdigital culture? Can postdigital theatrical aesthetics embody the fracturing of social bonds? Conversely, can postdigital performance engender feelings of hope for a technologically augmented conception of humanity? How do human bodies, other-than-human bodies, affects, and identities intersect and influence one another within technologically enabled performances? 

We welcome proposals which ‘stay with the troubles’ (Haraway 2016) of the post-pandemic and postdigital as a theatrical representation of hybrid reality imposed on the body.  

Proposals may respond to, but are not limited by, the following prompts:

  • The state of technologically enabled performance in the post-pandemic/postdigital world   
  • Technologically enabled performances as catalysts for social change  
  • Understanding postdigital performances through new materialist lens
  • Identity formation and performance of the self through the digital 
  • Affects and relational dynamic within intermedial practices 
  • The rise of mobocracy within online/social media spaces 
  • New community building through hybrid engagements
  • Performances of belief within online communities 
  • Migration of communities in cyberspace 
  • Monitoring of/within online spaces  
  • Hacking the digital stage 
  • Bodies without history – ethics and body politics within online spaces 
  • The unfinished business of post-Covid digital shifts in performance practices
  •  Post-Covid technologically enabled performances and changes in audience engagement

Proposals, if accepted, may be directed into a range of presentational formats, including traditional panels (with 20-minute papers) or performance-based panels. We also welcome alternative, practice-as-research or performance-based proposals that engage with the theme. As an alternative to a full paper, panel or practice research presentation,  PG students who are in the early stages of their research may wish to present  short ‘firestarter’ provocations (5 minutes) that can form the basis for wider discussion. While we encourage  statements of preference, final decisions will be made by the working group conveners and will be indicated at the time of acceptance. The Working Group also warmly welcomes participants who do not wish to present this year. 

Conference structure
Northumbria University will host the TaPRA 2024 annual conference in central Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK) as a hybrid event from 4 to 6 September 2024. We welcome online and in-person delegates.

Process for submitting a proposal
Please email a submission with the following elements by midnight on 10 April 2024 to the Working Group convenors at perfandnewtech@tapra.org:

  • 300-word max abstract
  • 100-word max biography
  • Confirmation on whether you plan to attend online or in person
  • Any specific requirements relating to space or AV technology

Please note: You may only submit a proposal to one working group (or to the TaPRA Gallery) for this conference, proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

TaPRA will inform you whether or not your proposal has been accepted in mid-May 2024. Registration will also be open from mid-May 2024, which will ask for accessibility and dietary requirements. A draft schedule will be ready by the end of June 2023. Registration will close on 1 August 2024. Accommodation options in central Newcastle with special rates will be available to all delegates.

Conference costs
There are two main delegate types (standard and concession, definition below) and all fees include one-year TaPRA membership of £35 (standard) or £17 (concession). Early bird rates only apply to in-person full conference fees.

In-person fees: (early bird/late bird)

  • Full conference fee: £250/£300 (standard) and £180/£230 (concession)
  • Day rate: £130 (standard) and £100 (concession)
  • WG Convenors and Exec: £198 (standard) and £17 (concession)
  • Life members: £163

Online fees:

  • Full conference fee: £110 (standard) and £90 (concession)
  • WG Convenors and Exec: £108 (standard) and £17 (concession)
  • Life members: £73

A day rate is not available for online delegates.

Concession definition
Concession rates apply to all students, postgraduate researchers (MA or PhD), 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 delegate’s circumstances on the first day of the conference.

Each Working Group manages a bursary to cover the fee and some expenses, offered on a competitive basis. Preference will be given to those without access to any institutional funds. This process is open to accepted presenters only and will be managed by the Working Group convenors post-confirmation of acceptance.

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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