05 June, 2020





Jan Kühne (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University and University of Chicago)


PROPOSAL DEADLINE: Monday 17 August 2020


For if the theater is like the plague, it is not only because it affects important collectivities and upsets them in an identical way. In the theater as in the plague there is something both victorious and vengeful: we are aware that the spontaneous conflagration which the plague lights wherever it passes is nothing else than an immense liquidation.

Antonin Artaud, trans. Mary Caroline Richards ‘The Theatre and the Plague’

At this time of national and global lockdowns with the world literally coming to a halt in order to combat and contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, causing disruptions on every possible level of our everyday lives, we are planning an issue of Performance Research ‘On Interruptions’.

We welcome contributions addressing any method or expression responding or reacting to the interruptions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including earlier eruptions of plagues or volcanoes but also carnivalesque or ritual interruptions, celebrating moments of renewal and joy, interrupting the mundane as well as interruptions of such delights. We want to feature contributions exploring every conceivable form of performative interruptions, initially developing from a traditional, literary perspective with the caesura as a break or pause in a verse where one phrase ends and the following phrase begins or where the verse metre necessitates or allows for such a momentary break.

With German Romanticism, in particular through the poet and translator Friedrich Hölderlin, the caesura became the point of departure for a more comprehensive theoretical approach to literature and performance. Hölderlin’s often enigmatic remarks about the caesura as an interruptive device have been widely interpreted by writers, scholars and philosophers. They have in different ways shown that the ‘break’ (or the interruption) created by the caesura is not arresting the continuity of a text but serves as a device (or a feature) that structures its form or, as Hölderlin suggested in his ‘Remarks on Oedipus’, giving form to ‘representation itself’.

It is therefore perhaps no coincidence that Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, for several reasons a foundational text for Western culture, which begins by raising the question how the polis will get rid of a plague was first performed the year after the so-called Athenian Plague. In his History of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides claimed that this plague led to the breakdown of social morals and determined the outcome of the war between Sparta and Athens, also marking the gradually growing crisis of Athenian democracy.

 The issue of Performance Research ‘On Interruptions’ in part arises from, and responds to, a three-month residency at the Israel Institute of Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (November 2019–January 2020) titled ‘Interrupting Kafka’ ( in which over thirty academics and artists were involved as fellows, guests and invited speakers. The research group explored and developed both scholarly and creative approaches and methods to understand and communicate interruptions, and in particular how research and art interact (or even creatively ‘interrupt’ each other). Since the group dispersed (in January 2020) the scope of these issues has been radically transformed and magnified, becoming a global state of emergency.

 The research project explored how Walter Benjamin gradually transformed Hölderlin’s ‘literary’ caesura and the idea of the interruption into a theatrical, performative idiom based on his theoretical reflections on the epic theatre of Bertolt Brecht. Benjamin’s insight that the Interruption (Die Unterbrechung) is a formative feature of Brecht’s epic theatre emerged in several stages and was most densely formulated in his essay ‘What Is Epic Theatre?’ (Second version, 1939), where he describes the sudden appearance of a stranger that leads to a standstill. The aim of such an interruption in Brecht’s epic theatre, which was also an important feature of Kafka’s writings, Benjamin maintained, ‘consists in arousing astonishment [Staunen] rather than empathy [Einfühlung]’, by presenting conditions rather than by developing individual, consecutive actions based on causality.

The Performance Research issue ‘On Interruptions’ will present the broadest possible perspectives – with regards to the materials presented as well as the methods for approaching interruptions – exploring both potentials for resistance and constructive change and their dangers, which undermine basic moral values. Maybe the opening of Kafka’s The Trial and Peter Brook’s film version of Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss will help us to begin thinking about these issues...


Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • The end of an era and the beginning of a new one – and the charms of continuity
  • Visible or invisible causes of interruptions
  • Interruption as rapture, carnival as interruption, ritual as renewal
  • Interruption as an aesthetic device and dramaturgical strategy in dance and theatre
  • The ‘break’ in music and dance and the creative strategies of ‘breakdown’/‘blackout’
  • The interruption of ‘theatre-going’ as a cultural/social phenomenon and the function of theatre in times of ‘social distancing’
  • The liberating and transformative power of interruption
  • Interruption as intervention and the power of theatre to disturb and destabilize
  • ‘Interruption Science’ (see: and the performing arts
  • Digital interruptions in online performances
  • Dramatic, performative and poetic notions of caesura
  • The Politics of interruption
  • Stuttering, slips of the tongue, blackouts, accidents and other glitches
  • Performative interruptions/interruptions of performance.



Proposals: 17 August 2020

First Drafts: December 2020

Final Drafts: March 2021

Publication: May 2021



Alongside long-form articles, we encourage short articles and provocations. As with other editions of Performance Research, we welcome artist’s pages and other contributions that use distinctive layouts and typographies, combining words and images, as well as more conventional essays.



All proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to Performance Research at:


Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the issue editors:

Jan Kühne –

Freddie Rokem –




- Before submitting a proposal, we encourage you to visit our website ( and familiarize yourself with the journal.

- Proposals will be accepted by email (Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (RTF)).

- Proposals should not exceed one A4 side.

- Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send.

- Please include the issue title and issue number in the subject line of your email.

- Submission of images and other visual material is welcome provided that all attachments do not exceed 5 MB, and there is a maximum of five images.

- Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.

- If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.


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