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CFP: TaPRA PG Symposium, 'Play in Performance Practices'

Posted on 30/11/2012


Play in Performance Practices

A TaPRA Postgraduate Symposium

Saturday 19 January

Location: Royal Holloway’s Bedford Square Residence (2 Gower Street, London)

Postgraduates and early career researchers are invited to present at a TaPRA Postgraduate Symposium: ‘Play in Performance Practices’. Presentations from postgraduates at all levels of their study, and early career academics, are welcomed. The symposium is free for TaPRA members and £10 for non-members; this includes membership for 2012/13 until after the annual conference. We are delighted to announce that Professor Alan Read (King’s College London) will be offering a keynote paper.

There will also be the opportunity to submit presented papers to Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts for consideration in a special edition sharing comparable themes with this symposium. An independent call for papers from Platform will follow in early December.

Play is an ancient practice and concept: one that emerges in various guises across centuries and continents. Hence Johan Huizinga argued, in his influential Homo Ludens, that play has permeated most aspects of human life, culture and ‘civilisation’. In Britain over the past few years, play has seemed ever-present and the concept widely applicable. The covert playing of financial stock markets, expenses and bonus scandals and tax avoidance schemes have come under critical and/or judicial scrutiny; territorial plays of protest, including the student marches against rising tuition fees, the Occupy Movement and the summer riots of 2011, have all gained significant media attention; and the Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee have prompted patriotic celebrations of play within a governmentally and culturally sanctioned context. It is in such a context that ‘active’ and ‘responsible’ citizenship seems sustained across New Labour and coalition governmental rhetoric. But in what ways might the concept and practice of play be seen to destabilise or inform such notions of ‘activity’ and ‘responsibility’? How might a critical engagement with play challenge, subvert, reveal or nourish our understanding of political, social, cultural and economic structures and processes?

Theatre and performance has a long history of engagement with play, an engagement that is increasingly interdisciplinary as public funding to the arts decreases and becomes more competitive under present austerity measures, requiring artists, practitioners and companies to be imaginative and playful in their approaches to making, producing and disseminating their work. ‘The play’ provides one archetypal feature of dramatic practice, while ‘playing’, both inside and outside of the theatre and rehearsal room, is central to the notion of what performance is and/or can be. In what ways might theatre and performance studies researchers contribute to an understanding of play’s workings and relevance today?

We invite proposals for 15 minute papers that engage with the topic of Play in Performance Practices. Themes might include:

-  play and precarity: risk, responsibility and trust

-  play and the virtual: computer games, digital worlds and performance

-  ecologies and systems of play

-  play and identity: role play, deception and reclamation

-  play and/as spectacle: circus, carnival, festival, sports

-  play and intoxication

-  play and chance

-  the politics of play in theatre and performance

-  the theatrics and playfulness of politics

-  play as subversive practice

-  histories of play

-  play across cultures / cross-cultural play

-  play as research / research as play

-  ludus/paidia in theatre and performance practice

-  games in public spaces

-  play and pedagogy

-  play and humour

-  play in therapeutic performance practices

Abstracts should be 250 words in length. When submitting your abstract, please also include in the same document a short biography (no more than 50 words) and a brief note on technical requirements (if any). Those wishing to engage with alternative approaches to presenting research, such as performance lectures, are asked to include an additional 100 words detailing your intended presentation methods. All such correspondence should be directed to Adam Alston and Charlotte Bell at taprapostgraduate@gmail.com.

The deadline for submitting your proposal is Monday 26 November. We will be unable to accept submissions after this deadline. You will be informed of our decisions by early December. 

If you would like to be considered for a limited number of travel bursaries, up to the value of £25, then please specify that this is the case in your submission email. Priority will be given to those living outside of London.

We look forward to hearing from you!

With kind regards,

Adam Alston and Charlotte Bell

TaPRA Postgraduate Representatives


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