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Performance, Identity, Community Working Group : “Performing Freedom, Freedom Performed”

Call for Papers TaPRA 2015: Performance, Identity, Community Working Group

Performing Freedom, Freedom Performed

The late, great, Tony Benn asked five questions of power:

  • What power have you got?
  • How did you get it?
  • In whose interests do you exercise it?
  • To whom are you accountable?
  • How do we get rid of you?

This year the Performance, Identity, Community WG would like to modify Benn’s interrogation of power in order to think about the exercises and practices of freedom (and control) today.

  • Are you free?
  • How did that come to pass?
  • In whose interests do you exercise your freedom?
  • To whom are you accountable?
  • How do we restrict your freedom?

In 2015 we were struck by the confluence of a series of events that sharpened our attention to questions of freedom: the anniversary of the Magna Carta, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the shootings in Copenhagen, the recruitment of young British students to Isis, and the display of Snowden’s destroyed laptop in the ‘All this Belongs to You’ Exhibition at the V&A. We have also been inspired by recent critical work including Sara Ahmed’s Wilful Subjects (2014) and Imogen Tyler’s Revlolting Subjects (2013), and intrigued by the biological and physical as well as social and political limits to freedom, as in John Gray’s The Soul of the Marionette (2015). Moreover, questions and themes that emerged from last year’s conference around the politics of recognition, consensus/dissensus, and cultural coding continue to press on us, and we hope to develop these conversations. For the 2015 TaPRA conference, then, the working group seeks critical responses to the notion of freedom and performance. In particular we want to investigate the plural manners in which freedom is performed and how performance has been used to sustain or disrupt acts or exercises of freedom. Areas panellists may wish to explore include freedom of speech, freedom of expression, free identities, visible/invisible freedoms, the aesthetics of freedom, freedom and agency, freedom and the brain, pedagogies of freedom, freedom and privacy, freedom to perform, freedom from performance or performativity, performance about freedom. In short, how can theatre and performance help us to better understand the meaning(s) of freedom and control today?

We would like to invite proposals for 15 minute papers, provocations, performances, interventions. We would also welcome pair or panel presentations. This year we hope to have more of a discursive feel to the conversation and as such will be inviting a number of colleagues to act as respondents and chair the open dialogue in a bid to move slightly away from the straightforward q&a structure.

Please send a 250 word abstract, a brief biog, and any technical requirements to,, and by 17th April 2015.

(Please note: Only one proposal may be submitted for the TaPRA 2015 Conference; you should not 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.)

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