Pushing Form: Innovation and Interconnection in Contemporary European Performance

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National University of Ireland, Galway

Pushing Form: Innovation and Interconnection in Contemporary European Performance

April 25-27, 2014

National University of Ireland, Galway

European and Western performance discourse historically has often presumed a hegemonic and majority white field of practice despite an increasingly diverse European population. How does the present reality of European theatre and performance challenge traditional assumptions? And how specifically does formal innovation provide the space for critiques of power and hierarchy that may rework the concept of "Europe" as realized through performance? How have artists responded through form to neoliberalism and globalization in the wake of the most recent world economic crisis and how does their specifically European context set the terms of this response?

This conference queries what it means to define the field of European performance. As such, we invite submissions that will consider key debates in terminology surrounding innovative emerging work, seeking also to build on older genealogies of practice in Europe and beyond. For the purposes of this conference, we will use "European performance" to designate work that happens within the continent as opposed to the European Union exclusively, although these differential power dynamics will be crucial to our inquiry.

The spread of Live Art has put pressure on the institutional theatre as the primary cultural site for performance in many European nations. Yet, discussions about the usefulness and limits of postdramatic as an umbrella term for interdisciplinary work that resists overdetermining dramatic literature might seem to characterize this moment in European theatre and performance studies. Meanwhile, experimental performance methodologies including devising, site-specific approaches, performance art and new media are increasingly taught within universities, signaling an integration of knowledge that may confirm the field of the "contemporary" through institutional status, but suggests that these practices may no longer be the cutting edge. By considering macro-European trends in relationship to national case studies, "Pushing Form" will explore the meaning of "contemporary," "European" and "performance" in relationship to each other. We hope to map not only the current field, but what may lie just beyond it.

Paper topics might address:

• Trends in experimental contemporary performance from a national and/or intra-national perspective. For example, how has Live Art transformed in its journeys across Europe from its origins in the UK?
• Theoretical debates: The postdramatic and beyond?
• The relationship between theatre and performance practices more broadly as sites of innovation
• The status of written drama in the 21st century
• Arts infrastructure and funding post-economic crisis
• The ways in which language and visual aesthetics in performance relate to making and disseminating work through European networks
• The politics of arts festivals and touring
• The impact of territorial disputes, ethnic disputes and migration on transforming not only national but European identities more broadly
• The role of theatre and performance in culture schemes for the European Union
• Hierarchies of prestige within and outside the European Union
• Linkages between European performance and other world trends including individual or networked relationships between European artists and companies and other international colleagues


Milija Gluhovic (University of Warwick), author of "Performing European Memories: Trauma, Ethics, Politics" and co-editor of "Performing the 'New' Europe: Identities, Feelings, and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest"


Abstracts (max 500 words) outlining proposed presentations can be submitted as email attachments to each of the conference organizers on or before 1 February 2014:

Miriam Haughton: miriamhaughton@hotmail.com

Siobhán O'Gorman: siobhanmogorman@gmail.com

Charlotte McIvor: charlotte.mcivor@nuigalway.ie