Call for Proposals for ATHE Panel, "The Spectrum of Spectacle in NYC: Contemporary Downtown Performance Aesthetics"

deadline for submissions: 
October 29, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Rachel Anderson-Rabern and Jessica Brater (conveners)
contact email: 

In many ways, the spectrum of “spectacle” aesthetics that threads through New York’s contemporary downtown performance community unearths new ways of examining the ethics and political engagement of these diverse groups and performance-makers. Inclusive of epic works like Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music and Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times; The Wooster Group’s and The Builder’s Association’s sophisticated tech-scapes; and Half Straddle’s shoestring excess; downtown performance artists increasingly reinvent, challenge, resist, and embrace the spectacular. Our session focuses on the artistic work emerging from the New York City downtown community, as a geographically centered window into the dense landscape of contemporary experimental American performance. Our guiding questions include: what does emphasizing “spectacle” as an analytic point of entry reveal about these performance artists’ and groups’ ethics and politics? How does spectacle, or anti-spectacle, serve as a mode of experimentation? To what degree are these performance-makers advancing theories of performance through praxis, by virtue of their evolving engagement with the spectacular?

As a first step toward a planned co-edited anthology focusing on contemporary downtown theater and performance, we are soliciting contributions to a panel for the 2017 ATHE conference in Las Vegas. We will submit the full proposal to the Performance Studies Focus Group. 

For panel consideration, please send:

  1. Your name, title, and institutional/artistic affiliation (independent scholars and artists welcomed)
  2. Project Title
  3. Short abstract (150-200 words) to:

Rachel Anderson-Rabern at


Jessica Brater at