Performance Research Journal Vol. 22, No. 7: ‘UNDER THE INFLUENCE’


Performance Research Journal Vol. 22, No. 7: ‘UNDER THE INFLUENCE’ (November 2017)
CFP Deadline: 12 December 2016

Co-editors: Jim Drobnick (OCAD University) and Richard Gough (Falmouth University)

In popular parlance, being “under the influence” conveys contradictory meanings about drugs and intoxication. On the one hand, the term designates impairment in the ability to perform an action, such as driving a car, which can lead to the charge of negligence and criminal punishment. On the other, being under the influence can connote freedom from conventional behaviors and the unleashing of creative inspiration, visionary capabilities and enhanced perceptivity. Such divergent meanings are typical to the discourse on drugs, which can in different contexts bring about liberatory, medicinal, spiritual or deleterious effects. If being under the influence carries ambivalent implications in society, the use of drugs in art and performance further complexifies matters. Aesthetic intentions, agendas and strategies can inflect the meaning of drugs in new and unpredictable ways.

This special issue seeks to explore how the use of drugs in art and society mobilizes intoxication and altered states. How have psychoactive compounds been featured in performances? How does the integration of narcotics, psychedelics, stimulants and depressants reflect, affirm or destabilize prominent discourses about theatricality? How have artists responded to the socio-political context of intoxication, such as the war on drugs or, conversely, the recent push to legalize substances like marijuana? How have drugs affected the visionary lives of performers? What impacts do drugs make on notions of agency, audience, or performativity in general? By incorporating a range of perspectives by historians, critics and practitioners, this issue on Under the Influence will stake out the multifaceted intersections between drugs and performance.

Performance Research invites proposals on any aspect of drugs and performance, broadly conceived. Proposals should be approximately 150 words and include the author’s CV.

Potential topics include:

• performances involving the use of drugs and intoxicants in art, theatre or society
• the influence of drugs upon creativity, expression, perception, aesthetics
• new and traditional rituals of drinking, smoking and taking drugs
• the theatricality of people getting high, tripping, hallucinating, being intoxicated
• activism against pharmaceutical companies and the medicalized drugging of mass populations
• interventions challenging the politicization and criminalization of drugs
• performances commenting on drug use, addiction, altered states
• the impact of new designer drugs on behavior, experience, lifestyle
• immersive artworks that affect the audience’s mental state or consciousness
• phantasmagoric drug-like effects in digital and new media performances
• drugs and the performance of spirituality, mystical visions and esoteric knowledge
• drugs and difference: diverse cultural approaches to taking and experiencing drugs
• healing performances and ceremonies using drugs
• drugs, synaesthesia and neuroaesthetics
• historical performances featuring drugs, such as the 19th century’s “ether frolics”

Proposals: 12 December 2016
First Drafts: April 2017
Final Drafts: June 2017
Publication Date: November 2017

ALL proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to the PR office:

Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the Issue Editors:
Jim Drobnick ( and Richard Gough (

General Guidelines for Submissions:
• Proposals will be accepted by e-mail (MS-Word or RTF).
• Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send.
• If you intend to send images electronically, please contact the Journal first to arrange prior agreement.
• Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
• If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.