Religion and Theatre Focus Group; DREAM ACTS: Performance as Refuge, Resistance, and Renewal

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Religion and Theatre Focus Group with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)

--Religion and Theatre Focus Group--
with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference

DREAM ACTS: Performance as Refuge, Resistance, and Renewal
July 24-27, 2014
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Hotel, Scottsdale, AZ

The Religion and Theatre Focus Group with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education invites you to submit a proposal for a session to the 2014 conference. The conference theme, "Dream Acts: Performance as Refuge, Resistance, and Renewal" is especially poignant for scholars at the intersections between religion, spirituality, theatre, and performance, since in many traditions the world over, the desert is a space for contemplation, often leading to social action. How is religion and spirituality necessary in our contemporary world for understanding the political and social import of aesthetic and cultural performance—especially on borders, those often-but-not-always liminal spaces for change and community? As ATHE's Vice President Sonja Kuftinec reflects, "the geopolitical landscape of Arizona offers us a chance to reflect on our responsibilities as artists and educators to the land, to the multiple histories it harbors, and the next generation of artist/activist/citizens who have charged us with nurturing and shaping their dreams." When scholars and artists approach their work from the stance of responsibility, what can we say about religion and spirituality in a world constantly troubled by the ethics of its politics?

Session proposals might address any of the following topics or questions:

How do we dream change? How and why do dreams figure significantly in religious traditions as well as in performance traditions—from ritual dramas to surrealism?

What is the relationship between dreams, futurity, hope, and the idea of utopia? How have communities, religious and otherwise, sought to instantiate futures through performance? How is "prophecy" proclaimed today? And how do we figure our "end times" or apocalypse?

How does the geopolitical landscape of Arizona challenge us to think broadly about the socio-cultural-religious landscape of laws and policies regarding immigrants, the other, and possibly "the scapegoat"? How do artists and playwrights forge different kinds of political landscapes, using theatre and performance ritualistically or liturgically to air grievances or rehearse for revolutions?

Some possible session titles could be: "Deserts: Contemplation and Performance"; "Dreams and Nightmares"; "Dreaming Up Religion: How Performance is Used to Create New Religions"; "Justice and Discrimination"; "Performance, Ritual, and Dreaming of a Queer Wedding"; "Dreaming of the End: End Times Performances"; "Dreaming about the future of religion and theatre/performance studies."

This is only a small sample of possible directions. How would you add to this list? Engage the theme broadly. We encourage and welcome proposals in different formats, such as scholarly panels, discussion roundtables, performances, working groups, or any other creative format you would like to suggest!

The deadline for complete session proposals is 1 November 2013. Please submit to ATHE online (instructions for submission are below) and also send a copy of your proposal to the R&T Conference Planner Claire Chambers at

The Religion and Theatre Focus Group will also accept individual paper proposals, and attempt to group papers together into sessions. Please submit individual paper proposals to the R&T Conference Planner, Claire Chambers, at no later than 11 October 2013. Please include your contact information, any AV requirements, a brief bio, and an abstract of about 200-300 words.

Multidisciplinary Sessions:
Multidisciplinary (MD) panels must be sponsored by at least three different focus groups (or a combination of committees and focus groups). All MD session organizers must contact the conference planners of all three sponsoring groups before submitting their session directly to ATHE by 1 November. To learn more about ATHE Focus Groups visit:
For a list of the Focus Group Conference Planners visit:

Get Started!
Now is the time to begin your own conversations, brainstorming, and calls for participants. Use the RT listserv ( to find colleagues with shared interests. If you have any questions, feel free to email conference planner Claire Chambers (

How to Submit Your Proposal:
1. To submit your proposal online go to: (available the first week of September). All session proposals are due by 1 November. Please forward a copy of your completed proposal to Claire Chambers at
2. If you will need audio or visual equipment such as projector, DVD player, etc., use the online form to request the appropriate grant to cover the cost. If AV is necessary, be sure to request it here since ATHE cannot meet requests for AV made after 1 November or at the conference in August.
3. For people submitting individual papers, the Conference Planner will attempt to connect you into sessions no later than October 22. An individual within the new session will need to step forward to submit the session proposal online to ATHE no later than 1 November.
4. You will receive confirmation that your proposal was received shortly after submission in November. Notifications about acceptance of your session proposal will be out in early March 2013.