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Performance, Identity and Community Working Group : Leave Me Out Of It: Communities and Outsiders in Theatre and Performance

Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Jeremy Corbyn are outside horses. ‘Bunches’ of migrants sit outside in communities on the borders of other communities. Theatre departments perch on the ‘soft’ periphery of Universities like polar bears on an academic ice cap. The participatory turn in contemporary culture suggests a general will to include and be included. A derelict building in the beating heart of Stokes Croft, Bristol, may be turned into a gated community so the wealthy residents inside can enjoy the graffiti and urban culture outside from a safe distance. Britain is debating whether it should remain in the European Union, outlining its ‘special relationship’ both inside and outside of the European demos. In short, borders, complex and contradictory demarcations of insiders and outsiders, abound. The Performance, Identity, and Community Working Group wants to explore how feelings, experiences, and spaces of insider and outsider-ness are inhabited, examined, and created in theatre and performance practices and scholarship.

Last year’s conference examined questions of how freedom is performed, sustained, and constrained. Building on the attendant questions of agency, voice, and strategies of power that emerged we aim to develop our collective interests by considering such broad questions as:

  • Is consensus desirable?
  • When does consensus exclude? When does ‘dissensus’ reinforce exclusion?
  • How can I opt out without fetishizing the margin?
  • Is the outside necessarily an existential space?
  • What is the relationship between community and ownership?
  • What happens when the demos is excluded from democracy?
  • Is the radical presumption of exclusion a viable strategy?
  • How might one reconceive the terms of inside and outside to help reimagine community?
  • Do we need borders?

More specifically in this call for papers we are interested in how theatre and performance, both in practice and scholarship, negotiate questions of inside and outside. We hope to invite discussions that may approach this in diverse manners: from concerns with interdisciplinarity to translation studies to representational theatre practice and elsewhere. We offer the following as a handful of wide-ranging provocations that are far from exhaustive in a bid to stimulate a varied and rich conversation around this theme:

  • Is theatre an outsider discipline and practice?
  • What are we doing (academically, politically, pedagogically) as theatre scholars when we temporarily inhabit other disciplines, or invite other disciplines into our own?
  • Does that act of intellectual ‘borrowing’ dissolve or sustain disciplinary boundaries?
  • How have theatre and performance acted as translators between insiders and outsiders?
  • How have theatre and performance explored borders in ways that resist the temptation to simply recuperate the margin back to an ever –fattening centre?
  • What borders do theatre and performance need?
  • How can theatre and performance occupy the outside in meaningful manners?
  • And how can this occupation strategically disturb the borders on which it rests?
  • Is outsider-ness a state of being or performative gesture?

We would welcome proposals that respond to the ideas and question outlined in this call. Please send an abstract (300 words) and short bio (50-100 words) to the working group convenors by Monday 18th April. Please indicate the format and length of your presentation (from performances to papers – all welcome).,,

Only one proposal may be submitted for the TaPRA 2016 Conference at the University of Bristol. 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; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the conference venue. If your paper has been accepted, yet you have not registered for the Conference by the final registration deadline of 8th August 2016, we will deem you no longer intend to participate and present at TaPRA 2016.

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