Performing Scores / Scoring Performance

deadline for submissions: 
May 10, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Manchester Metropolitan University
contact email: 

Performing Scores / Scoring Performance

HOME, Manchester – 11-12 July 2023

Convened by the Performance Research Group, Manchester School of Theatre 


Call for contributions


We invite contributions to the conference and sharing event ‘Performing Scores/Scoring Performance, which will take place at the prestigious and innovative arts venue HOME in Manchester on 11-12 July 2023.  The conference seeks to interrogate the concepts and uses of scores in performance and performance studies, as both starting points and modes of documentation, and to bring this area of thinking and practice into productive dialogue.


The concept of the score has become a key organising principle in the work of many performance makers in both the postdramatic and live art traditions. It gestures towards the script, and links performance practices to those of less narrative media such as music, visual art, and choreography. It can offer a stimulus, structure, or framework for the making of work, and may also become the key trace of a performance after its moment has passed, serving as an artefact that resists the ephemerality of performance in the historical landscape, what Carl Lavery has termed the ‘postscript’ (Lavery 2009: 37).


For example, Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards (created in conjunction with Peter Schmidt) provided a system by which art could be created not just by technically trained artists but anyone; similarly, Terry Riley’s In C served as a performance score that encouraged participants to create something unique each and every time it was performed; here scores worked with notions of chance and ‘unforeseeable interactions’ (Albiez and Pattie, 2016: 6). In these instances, the score breaks with the notion that it serves to reproduce literalness; what Knyt (2014: online) sets out as a difference between a score that is an ‘interpretive’ text versus a score as ‘total’ instruction. In such examples, what is the role of the performer? Impact Theatre Co-Operative’s (Claire MacDonald, Pete Brooks, Graeme Miller, Steve Shill et al) influential physical theatre project titled The Carrier Frequency was revived from its 1984 incarnation by Stan’s Café in 1999. The performance was restored from fragments of documentation that were excavated. Frances Babbage writing of her experience in seeing the 1999 show cites Mike Pearson: ‘These are not acts of reconstruction, but of recontextualization. They stand for the past, in the present’(Pearson in Babbage, 2000: 98). From the mid C20th onwards the fields of contemporary art have offered similar approaches. Some Fluxus examples include the work of Ben Vautier, Georg Brecht and Alison Knowles that reside on the edges of quotidian behaviour, music and culinary production. Meanwhile visual scores have been historically bracketed as ‘conceptual art’ and include instructional works by Lawrence Weiner, Sol LeWitt, Robert Barry and Art & Language. 


We invite short papers, provocations, roundtable discussions, exhibitions of performance scores, and the possible performing of scores. Areas that may be addressed include, but are not limited to:


  • Embodying scores / The scored body
  • Archiving scores / Performing the archive
  • Approaches to analysing scores
  • Scores, the performer, and patterns of authority
  • Scoring as non-textual archive / Scoring and repertoire 
  • Collaboration and the use of scores
  • Dramaturgical analysis of historical scores
  • Scores and temporality
  • Scores and transmission
  • Manuals as a pedagogical score - learning from reading
  • Transposition of scores to another medium
  • Scoring practices across cultures
  • Scores as blueprint for performance
  • Scores as post-script of performance
  • Scores as trace/detritus/aftermath etc.


We hope that this conference will lead to the publication of a special issue of a leading industry journal; however, acceptance on this conference does not guarantee publication, and we reserve the right to include in the journal work not presented in this conference. 


If you are interested in participating in this conference, please fill out this form: Submissions are due 10 May 2023. 

If you have further questions, please contact the organisers at

 This conference is sponsored by the Performance Research Group at the Manchester School of Theatre, Manchester Metropolitan University. 






Albiez, S. and Pattie, D. (eds.) (2016) Brian Eno: oblique music. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.


Babbage, F. (2000) ‘The Past in the Present? A Response to Stan's Cafe's Revival of ‘The Carrier Frequency.” New Theatre Quarterly, 16(1), pp. 97–99. doi: 10.1017/S0266464X0001349X.


Bal, M. (2000) ‘Memory Acts: Performing Subjectivity.’ Performance Research 5(3), pp. 102-114. 


Knyt, E. (2014) ‘Between Composition and Transcription: Ferruccio Busoni and Music Notation.’ Twentieth-Century Music. Cambridge University Press, 11(1), pp. 37–61. doi: 10.1017/S1478572213000145.


Lavery, Carl (2009), ‘Is there a text in this performance?’, Performance Research, 14.1, pp, 37–45 (p. 37).