TaPRA 2024 Theatre and Performance Histories working group

Deadline: Wednesday 10 April 2024

Theatre and Performance Histories: So what?

The Context: In August 2023, our working group began a response to Esther Kim Lee’s ‘Invitation to Theatre History’ (2022), which calls for the wider discipline of Theatre and Performance Studies to unite to ‘rebrand’ and ‘reimagine theatre history together’. Papers at last year’s conference explored the collaborative nature of our work, challenging the stereotype of the theatre and performance historian as a tweed-clad solitary creature working predominantly in the archives. Participants discussed working with practitioners, industry professionals, charities, activists, the heritage sector and other academics from within and beyond the discipline. The papers highlighted the range of spaces and places where our research takes place. In March 2024, the working group will turn our heads to another aspect of our academic role by examining pedagogy. The one-day symposium aims to shake off any notion that teaching history in our discipline is an old-fashioned remnant from the era before the emergence of Performance Studies. The event is set to interrogate how history is – and could be – successfully taught in our discipline.

The Call: Building on these discussions, at the 2024 annual conference the Theatre and Performance Histories working group are asking the big question: why do our histories matter?

We are interested in papers that respond to and develop the following questions:

  • Why do theatre and performance histories matter? Why should anyone care about theatre and performance from the distant past, recent past, or present day?
  • Who should care? Who is our audience? Who are our publics?
  • How do our publics read, see or engage with our histories?
  • Where does our research end up and in what forms?
  • How and where do we disseminate our research and what decisions lie behind this?
  • How is our research and its outputs used, cited, circulated and repurposed by others?
  • Where can and does our research have an effect? In what ways?
  • In what ways do our histories change things? How is our work intervening or interrupting?
  • How did/do our research subjects think about their own influence?
  • What are the legacies of our theatre and performance histories or those of previous generations? Is our impact short- or long-term?
  • How can/do we demonstrate and measure these things?
  • In what ways do we make our work accessible and relevant to our audiences?
  • Do we need ‘hooks’ to do this, or are our ‘hooks’ risking the integrity of our work and do they tend towards anachronism?
  • What are the conflicts, frictions and tensions in all of this?

At this year’s conference, we are interested to hear how our theatre and performance histories are having an effect on people, places, practices and policies. In the UK HE context, the word ‘impact’ has been adopted by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as part of its assessment of the ability of academic institutions to document and narrate the ways in which research reaches and influences the wider world. In North America, the rise of the ‘public humanities’ has encouraged a broader embrace of public-facing scholarship. What place do theatre and performance histories have within these wider discourses? How is historical work valued within Theatre and Performance Studies, where applied and community work might seem more evidently to reach beyond the academy?

In an effort to open our conversations to colleagues from across our discipline, during this year’s conference we will once again be hosting a shared panel with the Performance, Identity and Community Working Group and are particularly keen to find papers that respond in some way to the interests of both groups for this session. If you would like to be considered for this panel, please make this clear when submitting your abstract.

Works cited:
Lee, Esther Kim, ‘An Invitation to Theatre History’, conference paper originally presented at ASTR in November 2022. https://estherkimlee.com/an-invitation-to-theatre-history/ (Accessed: December 2022)

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 theatrehistory@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.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.