Magic, Exits/Endings and Water: How does performance escape?

Date of Event: April 6, 2019 Event Type: Interim Event
Magic, Exits/Endings and Water: How does performance escape? Joint interim event 2019: Theatre, Performance and Philosophy WG + Applied and Social Theatre WG with contributions from: Federico Campagna, Tim Prentki, Vivian Chinasa Ezugha   In this day-long event at the University of Portsmouth, the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group and the Applied and Social Theatre Working Group come together to interrogate how an exit from today’s crisis of reality might be envisioned and conjured through performance.   The image of a deadlock pervades current political, philosophical and artistic debates on the contemporary world, in its various articulations through discourses of crisis, impotence, paralysis. Fed by this condition of impasse, plans of escape are ubiquitously being drawn up, plotting exits, closures and endings. Writing a ‘phenomenology of the end’, Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi (2015) constructs a world with no end, a series of conjunctions and concatenations: ‘and, and, and’ – as in Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome, ‘always in the middle’. Is this a real promise of transformation, envisaging modes of reality and renewing horizons of thought? Or might the inert to-ing and fro-ing also mean that we are somehow stuck in the possible,hardly able to contemplate clear cuts from a state of things that might take us to what only seems impossible. We (forever to be defined because of a paralysing concern of excluding anyone) seem to suffer from a collective vertiginous fear of finitude. Perhaps the vertigo of our superfluous selves in a watery world that could do without humans. Federico Campagna (2018) defies hegemonic assumptions that there is no alternative to today’s reality-system: his answer to the current impasse is to imagine a different form of existence that valorises the ‘magic’ of life. From the perspective of applied theatre, the question of what is possible/impossible, of endings, exits and leavings, is one that, at a very pragmatic level, also poses a variety of challenges – are we in a deadlock with what is possible in applied and social theatre? What happens when a project ends, for example? What continues? Does anything ‘change’? At a more broadly socio-political level, there are questions of ethics, legacy, and transformative potential. As Tim Prentki has written: ‘The transformative process of becoming human is never properly accomplished, is only halted by death, and is attempted anew in each generation. Theatre offers arenas where we can try out transformations, where we can see if the ass’ head fits, and where it does not we can try again. In the words of Samuel Beckett: “All before. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better” (Knowlson 1996: 674).’ (Prentki 2018: 170)   How does performance escape? Can it summon an alternative system of reality? Can it make an exit? Can it disperse, dilute, liquefy our fears? Can magic help us imagine a form of existence governed by different rules, foregrounding the mystery of life? Can water, the sea, the ocean, which are capable of dissolving, disorienting and engulfing, foreground the vulnerability of life not as a weakness to be mastered, but rather as the basis for an alternative understanding of solidarity?   The event aims to engage participants in roundtables and curated discussions at the intersection of philosophy and practice. The programme will include:

  • A keynote by the philosopher Federico Campagna, author of Technic and Magic (2018), which will catalyse the discussion around the need for a reconstruction of a reality system that does not abide by the rules of instrumentality and causality and that accounts for the ineffable dimension of existence.
  • A keynote by Tim Prentki, Professor of Theatre for Development at the University of Winchester and co-editor of The Applied Theatre Reader.
  • An artist talk on water, magic and exits by Vivian Chinasa Ezugha
  • Themed roundtable discussions on magic, exits/endings and water
  • Puppet City, a family-friendly participatory workshop. Build and make a city for puppets to play in and interact with to explore what kind of cities we would like to live in.
  This event is family friendly; accompanying children are welcome to join the activities. Participation fees: free for members of TaPRA. Non-members will be required to pay a discounted £15 membership fee (£10 for PG students). Please join TaPRA online here: A light lunch and refreshments will be included. Please register at the following link:   TaPRA is pleased to be able to offer assistance with travel expenses to a small number of PG students. To apply for a travel bursary, please email the organisers: contributions to travel costs will be awarded on the basis of distance from the event and non-availability of institutional funding, and will be considered on a first come first served basis. For travel bursaries and other information, please contact the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group convenors Fred Dalmasso, Daniela Perazzo Domm and Nik Wakefield at or the Applied and Social Theatre Working Group convenors Michael Carklin, Matthew Jennings and Zoe Zontou at

Reaching | Outreaching

Date of Event: June 9, 2018 Event Type: Interim Event

Loughborough University London, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E15

9 June 2018, 11am-5:30pm  

The language of ‘outreach’ shapes conversation on university and artistic life, from ‘strategic visions’ to arts council applications. But what does it mean to reach out? What is the discourse on outreach as a gesture – an act and effect?

In this day-long workshop, the TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group aims to think together about gesture, site, institutional politics and the labour of reaching. We will ask: what does it mean to imagine a cultural sphere from which reaching takes place? How are we implicated in cultivating intellectual and creative spaces and ties that fail again and again to bind, to shift – to query the form of these structures of ‘outreach’? If public impact is meant to ‘change’ those with whom our work comes into contact, how do we analyse and eventually reclaim the dramaturgy of this encounter?

Situated in the newly built Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, an area of urban ‘regeneration’ that has become a cultural hub for major dance companies, start-up cafés and more, the workshop endeavours to reimagine and rearticulate the cultural economies and landscape ecologies that inform our intellectual and artistic practices, querying how political/policy environments shape the way we think and make our work ‘public’. The workshop aims to lay groundwork for further manifestations of these institutional choreopolitics – welcome to all.


10.45-11.00     Registration and coffee


11.00-11.30     Welcome and opening remarks/provocations: Kélina Gotman, Fred Dalmasso and Daniela Perazzo Domm

  11.30-12.30     Critical practice: Owen G. Parry and Johanna Linsley, “A Performance Hangout”

  12.30-1.45       Lunch (details tbc)

  1.45-2.30         Choreographic works 1: Sivan Rubinstein, “MAPS”

  2.30-3.15         Choreographic works 2: Rita Marcalo/Instant Dissidence, “Perambulating Dance”

  3.15-3.45         Break

  3.45-4.30         Writing/Performance: Sofia Rodrigues Boito, “Community and collaborative theater”

  4.30-5.30         Roundtable discussion: Diana Damian Martin, Arabella Stanger, Nik Wakefield, with Kélina Gotman and Daniela Perazzo Domm

  All are welcome!

  The workshop is free for students, independent practitioners and unaffiliated academics. We kindly request participants on full salaries to contribute £10 towards catering costs.

  All participants should be current members of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA). You can register at a discounted rate for £10, either on the day or (preferably) here: (“interim event only”).

  Notes on participants

  Owen G. Parry is an artist and researcher working across performance cultures on subjects including trash, biopolitics, gay sex, fandom, fascism and Yoko Ono. The performance hangout is a mode of theatre which uses live fictioning, altered duration, non-productivity and “being together” as a means of interrogating the blurring of work and leisure under neoliberalism, the co-option of avant-garde tactics by the fascist right, and the corporate imperative “to participate”. It’s been developed for the four-hour performance, commissioned by Fierce Festival, Birmingham 2017.

Johanna Linsley (University of Roehampton) is an artist, writer and researcher. She is a founding partner of UnionDocs, a centre for documentary arts in Brooklyn, NY, and a co-founder of the London-based live art domestic partnership, I’m With You. Her current research project “Acts of Assembly” (funded by Leverhulme Trust) examines the face-to-face meeting as a social genre.

  Sivan Rubinstein is an Israeli choreographer and researcher based in London. Over the last two years, she has been researching and exploring migration and mapping through the forms of dance, visual arts and music. This became a system of movement that, like a language, moves through time and space. MAPS is a research and dance project which looks at the constantly changing nature of the world. It includes the audience-participation performance Active Maps.

  Rita Marcalo is an independent artist whose socially-engaged choreographic practice brings different artists together, in different combinations, to realise different ideas. Her company, Instant Dissidence, invents ways of offering other people art experiences. Her latest project, One Last Dance, is a two-stage perambulating dance between Guildford (the first city Rita lived in when she arrived in the UK as an Erasmus student in 1994) and Cloughjordan (the rural Irish village where she is relocating post-Brexit).

  Sofia Rodrigues Boito is a performer, playwright and researcher interested in artistic creation in a hybrid field. Sofia’s work unfolds in collective creations, including through theatre performances with adolescents. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Sofia is a PhD candidate in performative writing (University of São Paulo) and is currently developing an artistic residence in Cité Interanationale des Arts, Paris.

  Diana Damian Martin (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) is a writer, critic, curator and academic. Her work is concerned with experimental criticism, writing as performance, performance and political philosophy, and politically-engaged performance and live art.

  Arabella Stanger (University of Sussex) is an academic whose interests reach across dance, theatre and performance, with an emphasis on the theoretical exploration of performance as social practice.

  Nik Wakefield (University of Portsmouth) is a researcher, artist and writer working mostly in performance but also across dance, theatre and visual art. His research is concerned with theoretical issues of time and ecology in contemporary performance and art practices.

  Kélina Gotman (King’s College London), Fred Dalmasso (Loughborough University) and Daniela Perazzo Domm (Kingston University London) co-convene the TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group.

  For further info: Kélina Gotman (, Fred Dalmasso ( and Daniela Perazzo Domm (


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