Materials and Materiality: How do they Matter?

 In PG Symposium Archive

We are delighted to announce the programme for this year’s TaPRA Postgraduate Symposium Materials and Materiality: How do they Matter?


Call for Papers and Presentation for

TaPRA Postgraduate Symposium 2018

Materials and Materiality: How do they matter?

9 February 2018

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Postgraduates and early career researchers are invited to contribute to the 2018 Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Postgraduate Symposium titled ‘Materials and Materiality: How do they matter?’. The symposium will take place at Central Bankside, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama on Friday, 9 February 2018 and seeks to investigate the roles and significance of the various materials that are around us and that make up or are negotiated in theatre and performance practice and research.

Tim Ingold in the Ecology of Materials (2012) goes back to Aristotle, who establishes that any thing is a compound of matter and form, which are brought together in the act of its creation. For Ingold, the process of making begins with two ingredients, a formless lump of raw material and a ‘form in mind’ (Ingold 2012: 432). The process ends when form and material are united into a complete artefact (Ibid.). Whether active and with agency or imposed and designed, as researchers and practitioners we are surrounded by and constantly engage with materials. Ingold notes, ‘the builder, the gardener, the cook, the alchemist, and the painter are not so much imposing form on matter as bringing together diverse materials and combining or redirecting their flow in the anticipation of what might emerge’ (Ingold 2010: 94). So how do we, as makers of performance, practice and research shape and design materials? How do materials come together and form something else? What possibilities they might reveal to us?

More importantly, for Jane Bennett (2010) nothing acts alone, every thing’s agency and efficacy depends ‘on the collaboration, cooperation, or interactive interference of many bodies and forces (21). So how might materials prompt us to reconsider others, the world and ourselves? How are we intertwined with materials and assemblages? Various approaches to materialism have identified the importance of matters, materials and things. While some of the more recent concerns of materialism have been tied to ecology and ecomaterialism, we seek to draw from this viewpoint and use it as a benchmark to explore the broader ethics, cultural and social practices through our engagement with the concept of materials. What implications might these signal for art and performance making, and more broadly for politics, and everyday life? Is the performance space (even when virtual) therefore the medium for the materialisation of performance theory?

Building on themes and conversations that emerged from the TaPRA Conference in Salford in September 2017 and last year’s TaPRA PG symposium in Leeds, we ask: how does our interaction with the material, and the immaterial, shape our research? As postgraduate and early career researchers making, working and living in a world where resources – whether financial, natural and cultural – are becoming ever more limited – how do we make our practice and research matter?

We invite presentations that engage with the theme of ‘Materials and Materiality’ in all forms of theatre practice, performance, performance studies, formal and informal performer training, stagecraft and theatre/drama in education. Themes might include, but are not limited to:

  • Natural and cultural objects.
  • Energy, force and matter.
  • Origin, originality and novelty; artificial materials; copy and reproduction; fetishism.
  • Substance and physicality, ideals and consciousness. Graspability and imagination.
  • The material and immaterial; the human and the non-human.
  • The materialisation (or de-materialisation) of performance theory in performance space.
  • Scenographic materials: light, sound, video, architecture.
  • Archival and historic materials; the histories of materials; access to materials.
  • Material and media; hybrids; the process of making; formation, deformation, reformation.
  • Vitality, ecology, environmentalism, sustainability.
  • Cultural materialism, historical materialism, new materialism, post-materialism.
  • Materials for/of performance, found materials, devising materials.
  • Assemblages, changing materials, agency, objectivity and subjectivity.
  • Material tendencies; exchanges between bodies and materials; material relations; material conditions.
  • Collaboration, immersion, improvisation, composition.
  • The materiality of body, of voice, of text, of play, of story, of performance, of research, of knowledge, of thought.
  • Implications and limitations of materials. The invisible, the inaudible, the unexplored, the unimagined, the unclaimed, the uncovered….

Abstracts will also be considered towards publication in JAWS, The Journal of Arts Writing by Students. The award winning, international journal, published by Intellect Books (,id=243/), will aim to publish a number of papers as well as a selection of abstracts in a forthcoming issue. JAWS is the only arts journal entirely written, edited and peer reviewed by current students and first year graduates. Publishing across art and design at a postgraduate level, JAWS acts as writing-studio. A space for early-stage academics to explore and share ideas and flex their peer review muscles over emerging themes and trends in arts research.

Papers (15mins), provocations (10mins) and alternative presentations from postgraduates at all levels of study, postdoctoral researchers and early career academics, are welcome. The symposium is free for TaPRA members and £10 for non-members; this includes membership for the academic year 2017/18. All membership must be paid online via the TaPRA website prior to the symposium:

Abstracts should be 250 words in length. All abstracts should be sent to When submitting your abstract, please also include a short biography (no more than 50 words) and a brief note on technical requirements (if any) in the same document. Those wishing to engage with alternative approaches to presenting research, such as performance lectures, are asked to include an additional 100 words detailing your intended presentation methods. All correspondence should be directed to Yaron Shyldkrot, Cathy Sloan and Adelina Ong via

The deadline for submitting your proposal is 12pm (Midday) on Thursday 4 January 2018. We will be unable to accept submissions after this deadline. Notifications will be sent by 12 January 2018.

If you would like to be considered for a limited number of travel bursaries, up to the value of £25, then please specify that this is the case in your submission email. Priority will be given to those travelling farthest.

Yaron Shyldkrot, Cathy Sloan and Adelina Ong

TaPRA PG symposium organisation team

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