ASTR 2015 CFP: “Beyond the Postdramatic?”


ASTR 2015 Working Group Call for Submissions

"Beyond the Postdramatic? The Stakes of Contemporary Performance"

Conveners: Shane Boyle (Queen Mary, Univ. of London), Matthew Cornish (Ohio University), and Brandon Woolf (Freie Universitӓt Berlin)

This year’s “Debating Postdramatic Theatre” working session is a culmination of the conversations we began at ASTR in Dallas and continued in Baltimore. For our third and final meeting, we invite contributions that consider the political, philosophical, and historical stakes of examining contemporary performance practices through the category of the postdramatic. In addition to its explanatory possibilities, what are the blind spots and biases of postdramatic theatre? And what do other frameworks or lenses for studying contemporary performance provide that the postdramatic does not?

Papers may consider a range of questions within or across the categories of politics, philosophy, and history.

Hans-Thies Lehmann and other scholars often reduce the politics of postdramatic theatre to an “interruption” of the political itself. But what practices and perspectives does such a position preclude? In what ways have austerity and the recent surge in social movements globally informed the political orientation of experimental performance? And how do categories like the ”post-Brechtian,” “social practice,” or even “live art” allow us to imagine different political possibilities for contemporary performance?

Papers could also explore the philosophical stakes of postdramatic theatre. How does the postdramatic provide opportunities for philosophical reflection, or for reflecting on emerging notions of performance philosophy? What are the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of postdramatic theatre, and how do they inform what practices we consider to be postdramatic? What are other critical genealogies for putting the postdramatic in perspective, and for opening up alternative avenues to study contemporary performance?

Picking up on questions of genealogies, we also invite papers that historicize the category of the postdramatic itself, as well as particular postdramatic performances. How and why did the postdramatic become useful for describing contemporary performance? What lenses did it overtake or lead us to underemphasize? Could we develop a canon of postdramatic theatre? And what are the limitations of canonizing postdramatic performance?

To ground the discussions of the working group in a shared vocabulary, participants will read excerpts from Liz Tomlin’s Acts and Apparitions: Discourses on the Real in Performance Practice and Theory 1990 – 2010, David Barnett’s “Towards a Definition of Post-Brechtian Performance,” selections from Mike Sell’s Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism, and Richard Schechner’s “The Conservative Avant-Garde.” By mid-August, those participating will circulate response questions to the readings. Our conversations at ASTR will focus on 7-10-page working papers drafted by each participant and e-mailed to a defined sub-group two weeks prior to our meeting. As an added opportunity to engage one another’s work, participants will read these documents and submit 2-3 discussion questions. The session itself will consist of three breakout conversations around the topics of politics, philosophy, and history, followed by a large group discussion. During each breakout conversation, groups of 4-5 participants will address a set of questions curated from those circulated ahead of time. We will conclude with a structured conversation as an entire group. This will include time for reflection, discussion of future research and collaboration opportunities, and input from observers.

Please send a 250-word abstract along with a brief bio by May 31, 2015 to the conveners:

Shane Boyle (m.s.boyle)
Matt Cornish (cornish)
Brandon Woolf (bwoolf)

Members will be notified by the end of June whether their proposals have been accepted for the working group.