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Performance and the Body Working Group : Bodies as/of Evidence

Call for Papers: Performance and the Body Working Group

TaPRA 2015: University of Worcester; 8-10 September 2015

Bodies as/of Evidence

The TaPRA Performance and the Body Working Group will this year consider the body as a site/object/conduit of evidence. What do bodies signal or yield in terms of data, motive, history etc.? How does attention to the body as a site/object/conduit of evidence inform (particular kinds or instances of) performance? Despite Martha Graham’s proclamation that a moving body never lies, performing bodies ‘lie like the truth’ in complex and illuminating ways. They both reveal and conceal the realities of physiological, emotional and sociological construction. We welcome consideration of the many ways, across diverse kinds of performance, in which bodies display, obscure and fabricate.

In the internet age, the corporeality of the body is extended (as companies such as The Builders Association have provocatively addressed), by the rendering of the self as a body of information, or ‘data body’. How do data bodies betray/conceal/outlive real ones? Proposals may draw on or challenge the notion that Western culture has taken a ‘forensic turn’. Such a turn has been theorized across, and troubles the separation of, sciences and the humanities. It is most often defined as an approach to interpretation in which evidence is the nexus of meaning. In paradigmatic reference to this approach, Isaac Asimov is sometimes cited: ‘I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the more solid the evidence will have to be.’ How does the deployment of bodies in particular performance events refuse or embrace evidence-based logic? How do disciplines such as theatre studies and performance studies institutionally refuse or embrace empirical evidence?

Possible foci for discussion include, but are certainly not limited to:


  • the body as proof, truth or evidence
  • the dissembling body
  • (changing) kinds of evidence that are produced by performance
  • the archiving of the body and the body as archive
  • bodies and repertoires
  • means of, and compulsion to, track the body in performance
  • the data body
  • performance and the forensic turn
  • criminological approaches to making and reading performance
  • museological approaches to making and reading performance
  • correlation/divergence within a particular performance between verbal text and physical text


Proposals, if accepted, may be directed into a range of presentational formats: traditional panels (with 20 minute papers); pre-circulated papers that form the basis for a short presentation and discussion; or, where appropriate, performance-based panels. While we welcome statements of preference, final decisions will be made by the Working Group Convenors and will be indicated at the time of acceptance.

We welcome alternative, practice-as-research or performative proposals that engage rigorously with the theme, but these must be achievable within limited technical resources and within a 20-30 minute time period.

Please send a 300-word proposal, a short biographical statement, and an outline of technical requirements by 17th April 2015 to ALL Performance and the Body Working Group Working Group convenors:

Patrick Duggan:

James Frieze:;

Royona Mitra:

The Working Group also warmly welcomes participants who do not wish to present a paper this year.


Please note: Only one proposal may be submitted for the TaPRA 2015 Conference at University of Worcester. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Papers. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the conference. If your paper has been accepted, yet you have not registered for the Conference by the final registration deadline of 14 August 2015, we will deem you no longer intend to participate and present at TaPRA 2015.

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