CFP: [International] Performing Lives

full name / name of organization: 
Lisa Hall
contact email: 

An International Conference hosted by the Centre for Life Narratives
Kingston University, UK
6 - 8 July 2009

This international conference on ‘Performing Lives’ follows the inaugural
conference of the Centre for Life Narratives, ‘The Spirit of the Age’,
the focus of which was ‘Writing Lives’ (2007). Our second biennial
conference ‘Performing Lives’ (2009) invites analysis and debate on the
relationship between life histories and the ways in which they are
embodied and enacted in performance, across a range of cultures and a
variety of media: drama, dance, film, TV and video.

The performance of ‘real’ lives takes many forms. On the one hand, in
commercial film and TV the traditional ‘biopic’ is an enduring favourite;
on the other, autobiographical, verbatim and tribunal modes in theatre,
docudramas and TV reality programmes, and more experimental approaches to
autobiographical and documentary filmmaking, have challenged conventional
forms through their emphasis on ‘ordinary’ lives, their incorporation of
multiple perspectives and their interrogation of notions of reality and
fiction. In dance, performers’ own lives have frequently served as source
material for choreographers while the abstract, non-verbal nature of
dance provokes alternative approaches to the representation and
performance of lives.

Key questions include:

• WHY LIFE? What do we aim to achieve in performing aspects of our
own lives and those of others? What are the pleasures for the
spectator/consumer of life narratives? How do the aims of film and TV
makers, theatre-makers and dance-makers differ?

• WHICH LIFE? What kinds of lives do different performance-makers
find interesting and why? What is the relationship between the performer
and the life performed, particularly in relation to star performances?
What are the ideological messages inscribed in life histories in

• WHOSE LIFE? From whose perspective is the life being told or
shown? What questions are raised about authority, authenticity and
ownership? What are the moral and ethical implications of performing the
lives of others?

• REAL LIFE? How does the performance of life frame questions
about the relationship between reality, fiction and audience? Given the
impossibility of representing the whole of a life, what determines the
choices made about what elements of a life to perform?

We welcome proposals in English (of not more than 250 words) from a range
of critical perspectives in relation to a range of countries, cultures
and historical periods. We are interested in the perspectives of
performance and media-based practitioners as well as those of academics
and thus invite proposals for performances and workshops as well as
papers and panels.

Proposals should be submitted online via the following page:
8 December 2008
Enquiries to

Adam Ainsworth, Dr Simon Brown, Mathew Melia, Trish Reid, Dr Carrie Tarr,
Frank Whately

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Received on Wed Sep 24 2008 - 06:46:28 EDT