Perform or Else! New Perspectives on Theatre Studies at National University of Ireland, Galway, 26-28 October 2012

full name / name of organization: 
Irish Society for Theatre Research

Keynote speakers:

Mark Phelan (QUB)

Rebecca Schneider (Brown)

'Performance' is how a neo-liberal service economy measures failure or success. And yet the term remains strangely under-theorised politically in the domain of theatre studies for which conceptions of 'performance' are also central; and this under-theorisation is most notably the case within Irish drama and theatre studies, as well as in its related fields of theatre history and theatre historiography. How then might the terms and conditions of the theatrical encounter as imagined by dramatists, directors and performers clarify and/or expand an understanding of social and political value? How does this value relate to ethical, environmental and economic conceptions of theatre's worth? And how might a revised theatre aesthetics open up our notion of political possibilities, of history and of agency? Is there a connection between a good performance in the theatre and a good performance within capitalism, between a 'poetics of failure' and acting up politically? What does it mean to act badly and can bad acting make a good theatre? How does thinking about performance affect our understanding of archiving and remembering the past?

The conference invites proposals (and ideas for panels) from all aspects of theatre research but with emphasis on the following:
• Aesthetics, Irish drama and/or Irish theatre history
• Capitalism and theatre performance
• Memory and Performances in Irish theatre
• Archives and performance
• Queer historiography and queer histories

Proposals on other topics in the field of Irish theatre (not just plays by Irish authors but the full range of performances that are produced in Ireland) are also welcome.

Only members of the ISTR may present papers at the conference. Membership application forms will be available during the event.

Please send a short (max 300 words) proposal to Patrick Lonergan ( and Lionel Pilkington ( by 28 September 2012. Please note that this is the FINAL deadline.

Please include with your proposal your name and institutional affiliation (if any).