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TaPRA 2014 Performance and the Body Working Group

Posted By James Frieze, Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Call for Papers: Performance and the Body Working Group
TaPRA 2014: Royal Holloway, University of London; 3-5 September 2014
Bodies In and Out of Place

The TaPRA Performance and the Body Working Group will this year consider relationships between body and place, not only in formal performance contexts but also, more broadly, in the materially situated practices of cultural life.

Place is the cultural transformation of space; it incorporates ideas of landscape, site and location that are demarcated and given cultural significance. All performance is specifically situated; it is placed. But phrases such as ‘in place’ also connote orderliness and regulation; strategies of power are mapped across space to determine the places that bodies may occupy. Bodies are included or excluded from places; they are subject to the laws, physical conditions, customs and protocols that apply in specific environments or locations.

The body itself is a site for performativity; the quotidian routines of everyday life are both bodily and spatially situated. Bodies have weight, density, texture, contour and form, onto which are inscribed culture, history, social distinctions, gender and race. The body is both a location for performance and an expressive resource, a generator of signification.

Postcolonial and feminist theorists have crucially asserted the constructedness of the body’s materiality. As Colette Conroy characterizes the intervention made by Judith Butler's Bodies That Matter: ‘Bodies are not inert lumps of matter that are there to be studied or interpreted, but analytical tools to help us to articulate and investigate elements of human behaviour and action.’ And yet, the materiality of the body in performance persists. The areas of possible focus, and the stimulus questions below, are underpinned by our wish to consider the interaction/ intersection of the actual/material and the symbolic/metaphorical in the placing, displacing, replacing and misplacing of bodies in performance:
  • The body as place/space/scene/site of performance
  • The symbiotic relationship of body and place
  • The body at/as home; the homeliness of the body
  • Race, place and the body
  • The ordered body; the body out of order
  • Bodies kept in place; the consigned body
  • Bodies, class and classification
  • The displaced body; the body out of place
  • How does performance place the body in space?
  • How does performance analysis/documentation place the body in performance?
  • How does performance address/enact the social and cultural positioning of bodies according to status, standing, class, rank?
  • The emergence toward the end of the 20th century of site-specific and site-responsive theatre has continued in the form of encounter- and experience-centred events that often oppose themselves, or are opposed, to 'traditional' theatre. Such events make claims for the embodiment of the spectator and against the disembodiment of traditional forms of staging. In what cases, and to what extent, are these claims legitimate? How do particular site-specific/responsive or traditional-site performances situate bodies and illuminate the social situation of bodies?
Proposals, if accepted, may be directed into a range of presentational formats: traditional panels (with 20 minute papers); pre-circulated papers that form the basis for a short presentation and discussion; or, where appropriate, performance-based panels. While we welcome statements of preference, final decisions will be made by the working groups convenors and will be indicated at the time of acceptance.

We welcome alternative, practice-as-research or performative proposals that engage rigorously with the theme, but these must be achievable within limited technical resources and within a 20-30 minute time period.

Please send a 300-word proposal, a short biographical statement, and an outline of technical requirements by 30th April 2014 to BOTH of the Performance and the Body Working Group Working Group convenors:
James Frieze: and Lib Taylor:

The Working Group also warmly welcomes participants who do not wish to present a paper this year.

Deadline for the submission of proposals: 30 April 2014.

Please note: Only one proposal may be submitted for the TaPRA 2014 Conference at Royal Holloway University of London. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Papers. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the conference; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the conference venue. If your paper has been accepted, yet you have not registered for the Conference by the final registration deadline of 8 August 2014, we will deem you no longer intend to participate and present at TaPRA 2014.

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