The Door: Site, Object and Threshold in Performance -- One Day Symposium

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University of Surrey
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One Day Symposium: The Door: Site, Object and Threshold in Performance
8th July 2014

From Nora’s slamming of the door in The Doll’s House, to debates about stage doors in Shakespeare’s Globe, to immersive performance in which both performers and spectators may pass through doors together, the door is a critical but under-explored feature of performance. We invite contributions to a symposium that will examine the door as a performative ‘threshold’, exploring doors as both objects and places that, in being opened and closed, not only enable and restrict movement, but also contribute to the ‘play’ of presence and absence that is endemic to performance. Papers, presentations, and/or performances will unpack the door’s function as site and object, and investigate the ways it materializes and crystalizes a broader spectrum of performance phenomena, including practices of:

• invitation/exclusion;
• revelation/secrecy;
• conjoining/separation;
• transformation.

The symposium aims to bring together both practitioners and scholars (and, of course, those for whom such a division might be considerably more tenuous), and as such, seeks contributions from across disciplines and modes of research – we would especially welcome proposals for presentations that are practical or creative in nature.

The day’s proceedings will be structured in four main parts: an opening panel covering general questions and considerations across disciplinary perspectives; a panel addressing the door on stage; a panel addressing the door in site-specific performance; and a closing roundtable discussion involving all the participants and auditors. Contributors are invited to pitch abstracts or proposals to any of these sections, and may also wish to address one or more of the following questions:

• How might we situate the door as a critical topic of discourse in the study of theatre and performance?
• How do site, object and threshold intersect in performances at, of and through the door?
• What are the door’s primary ontological states?
• What are its principle functions in performance?
• What are the most relevant and exciting paradigms for discourse concerning the door in performance?
• What are the critical points of intersection with cognate disciplines?
• What are (or have been) key trends in the dramaturgical use of the door on stage?
• How might analyses of the door speak to a specific context, era, or convention of theatricality?
• How might we understand doors in terms of place, space and mobility in performance?
• What states, changes and transitions emerge in treatments of the door in performance?
• Might doors enable us to re-think our understanding of entrances and exits in performance?

This symposium initiates a larger project, funded by a grant from the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, dedicated to the study of the door in theatre in performance; it will be followed later in the year by a pair of practical workshops and showings, and one aim of the symposium (and especially the closing roundtable discussion) is to consider innovative and exciting ways to pursue the above questions through place and studio-based praxis. As such, contributions to the symposium may be selected for expansion and inclusion in an edited collection or special journal issue.

Please send abstracts or proposals of no more than 250 words, along with a brief biographical statement, to both conveners: Dr. Stuart Andrews ( and Dr. Matt Wagner ( The closing date is Monday 14th April 2014, and notice of acceptance will be issued by Friday 18th April 2014.

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