‘Unstable Geographies, Multiple Theatricalities’ – IFTR Conference at University of Sao Paulo


Performance as Research Working Group call for papers

IFTR Conference at University of Sao Paulo 10-14 July 2017

‘Unstable Geographies, Multiple Theatricalities’


Prompted by the conference title ‘unstable geographies, multiple theatricalities’ and following the four-year plan of the Performance as Research Working Group of IFTR, we encourage old and new members to consider the future of Performance as Research (PaR). We invite proposals for our ‘participatory laboratory’ in Sao Paulo in July 2017, from those working in multiple and mixed artistic practices involving dance, theatre, performance art, live art and socially engaged practices as well as other types of cultural performances and performative practices.


Unstable geographies of PaR:

The geographically dispersed research methodologies that can be gathered under the umbrella of PaR often involve diverse approaches and terminology. While the term Performance as Research has some currency in the US, the terms mostly used in the UK are practice as research or practice-led research. The specific methodological legacies in Australia are often related to performative research or creative arts research, while terms like arts-based research and research-creation are utilised in Canada. In the Nordic and Central European countries, artistic research is the preferred approach. Can we examine the evolution of these specific geo-cultural forms of PaR, in order to understand their potential future development? Can we expect these largely geographically based strands to merge and hybridize following artist-researcher mobility, or can we expect further diversification in order to satisfy local needs?


Multiple theatricalities of PaR:

Within PaR, performance has been understood, on the one hand, as influenced by performance studies to encompass various forms of cultural performances, practices and actions performed with or without immediate audience. On the other hand, PaR has been concerned with artistic practices of the most diverse kinds, loosely related to performance, whether writing, dance, live art, performances for camera or activities of non-human performers, including a variety of participatory practices and digital as well as virtual developments. Can we articulate the research methodologies utilised within particular art forms in order to understand the future potential of PaR within these diverse domains? Can we expect these multiple forms of artistic practice to further merge and hybridize in the future, or evolve through further diversification and specialisation? Do we look forward to specific developments within art forms or can we expect to work in increasingly cross-disciplinary conditions in relationship to research?


The multiple futures of PaR?

Following on from these unstable geographies and multiple theatricalities, inspired by the suggestion of the conference organisers that ‘thinking about theatre and performance as open opportunities for action implies the search for more transformative relationships between art and society’ and based on the main topics in our four-year plan, we propose a number of questions concerning the futures of PaR.


1) What are the multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary potentialities of PaR? What can PaR contribute to the ‘transdisciplinarization’ of knowledge beyond the academy?

2) What kind of futures can be imagined concerning the various trajectories of PaR based on specific geographical and methodological legacies? How are these reflected in the pedagogy or institutionalization of PaR?

3) What kinds of writing about, in or on PaR are emerging from the meeting of practice and research within and outside the academy? What (other) forms of hybridisation of artistic practice and research can be imagined in the future?

4) What can PaR offer to the sustainability of research practice both within academia and in the wider societies we live in? What sustainable forms of PaR are evolving at local and global levels and how does this reflect on wider social, ecological, geographical, even geological issues we face in working together across disciplines, methods and cultures?


We invite abstracts which respond to this call and the deadline for abstract submissions is 15 January 2017 (please check the IFTR website in case the deadline is extended). We ask applicants to clearly indicate which of the themes in the call they would like to investigate. All applicants should follow the instructions regarding abstract submission through the conference website http://www.iftr.org/conference


We are investigating the possibilities of organising a pre-conference meeting and one-day workshop in Sao Paulo on 9 or 15 July 2017. Please indicate in your submission whether you will participate if the workshop is organised.


Application Process 


The PaR working group at any conference is limited to 25 people. You can participate in the Working Group as a presenter or participant. Please mark your preferred role clearly on your abstract submission. Presenters and participants will be formed into sub groups which then develop ideas from the papers into practice-based activities for participation by the full Working Group.


We remain committed to enabling new members to engage with the Working Group, and we will reserve up to 10 places at the meeting for them. New members may elect to present a paper or propose attendance as a participant, which is often a good way to first experience the Working Group.


To join as a presenter, send an abstract of (maximum) 250 words via the Cambridge University Press website by 15 January 2017. Please copy your abstract to performanceasresearch@gmail.com. A maximum of 15 presenters will be selected. The chosen presenters will write a 3000-word paper. The papers will be made available to all presenters and participants, before the conference. All finalized papers must be submitted by 30 May 2017 and any papers submitted after this date may be excluded from the Working Group. In addition, we will be proposing a panel from the Working Group for the main IFTR conference program. If you wish to be considered for the panel, please indicate this clearly in your abstract submission.


To join as a participant, please submit a short letter of motivation by 15 January 2017, directly to performanceasresearch@gmail.com indicating what your interest in PaR and the topics to be discussed are. A maximum of 10 participants will be selected. Participants are expected to be actively involved in both reading the papers and participating in group activities. It is required that participants will be registered for the conference.


There will be spaces for some Visitors who are attending the main conference. Visitors can observe some of the Working Group sessions, and do not have to be available for all of the Working Group sessions. Visitors should contact us on performanceasresearch@gmail.com at least one week in advance of the conference in order to express an interest.


All applicants should also follow the instructions regarding submission through the conference website: http://www.iftr.org/conference