Living Circles: Jewish Philosophy & Performance

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Laine Zisman Newman / Canadian Association for Theatre Research

Living Circles: Jewish Philosophy & Performance

Call for Roundtable Participants

Canadian Association for Theatre Research

June 3-6, 2019

Jewish spiritualties are inextricably defined and shaped by circles. We dance in them. We write in them. We keep time through them. Our daily lives, our scholarly work, and our performances exist through a framework that refuses linearity. Spatially and temporally, we are oriented through a complex refusal to isolate past from present, where we are from where we have been and where we are going. What might this spiritual and religious lens offer us pedagogically and theatrically in performance and education? Alongside other established scholarly frameworks, what does it mean to apply Jewish philosophy as a form and structure to our performance practice and theoretical investigations?

The Jewish Talmud is written in a kind of circle, with the text centralized and the commentaries encircling it physically on the page. It is also studied in circles: spatially, as it is typically studied in groups rather than lecture halls, and methodologically, as it is measured by units of seven-year cycles. The story is held up by the structures that discuss, analyze, reflect, and apply theory to practice. It performs a kind of network, an evolving dialogue of perspectives and commentaries.

This roundtable offers an opportunity for artists and scholars to explore Jewish theoretical and philosophical approaches to performance on stage and in everyday life. Roundtable participants will be asked to submit short 8-10 page papers prior to the conference, which will be posted on a shared online blog. Papers can take multiple forms, including formal papers and experimental or performance-based papers. Conference Participants will be asked to comment on each other’s work prior to meeting for our discussion at the conference.

We encourage participants to consider Jewish practices and approaches to circles and encircling through an intersectional approach that considers Jewish thought alongside other theories and positionalities. Topics for papers may include (but are not limited to):

  • Inter-religious dialogues and sacred circles
  • Talmudic structures of commentary encircling narrative
  • Spatial and/or temporal conceptions of circles in Jewish performance
  • Life cycles and round foods (seder plates, challahs, eggs, bagels...  )
  • Queer and Jewish Temporalities
  • Ritual circle dancing as performative orientation devices
  • Feminism and Jewish thought on stage
  • Intersecting circles of trauma and oppression  
  • Disrupting binaries of separate gendered circles in Jewish dance and everyday life
  • The creation of insiders and outsiders: Performing Ashkenazi privilege in the west


Participants are asked to submit an abstract or proposal of no more than 250 words.

Submission Deadline:  31 January 2019

Roundtable Organizers: Laine Zisman Newman and Shira Schwartz Greenberg

Submissions should be sent to:

For more information visit: