New To IFTR?
If you are new to the IFTR and the Annual Conference, then read this ...
The International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) exists to promote collaboration and the exchange of information between individuals and organisations concerned with theatre research. To this end the Federation supports conferences and publicationsand assists its members in all such activities and projects.
The IFTR facilitates emerging scholars, referred to as New Scholars, who are learning how to develop and publish their research. The conference allows all those who attend to meet others with common interests from different countries and regions and share research methods. The Working Groups and the IFTR as a whole promotes publication of research through two book series in association with major publishers and Theatre Research International, the offical journal of the IFTR. The conference is the best place in which to encounter the theatre researchers who have most inspired you and watch them in action in the working groups, the panel presentations, and the keynote lectures. In order to present a paper at any IFTR conference you must be a registered member.
Every year the IFTR holds an annual conference in a different country.
Each conference coheres around a conference theme which inspires most of the conference presentations. If you are an IFTR member you attend conference more cheaply and you receive the IFTR journal for the year more cheaply. If you wish to present a paper you must send in your abstract by the date listed on the conference website (usually in January of the year in which the conference is held) and follow the submission guidelines precisely. If you can't afford to come because your institution or country doesn't support your research activities, then you can apply for a bursary from the IFTR usually by 1 December of the year preceding the conference.
To given you an idea of what is involved in an IFTR conference here's a link to a video about the 2013 IFTR Conference inBarcelona.
What happens at an IFTR annual conference?
An IFTR conference usually lasts for at least five days. The conference structure consists of:
- Keynote Lectures;
- General Panel Presentations;
- Working Group Meetings;
- New Scholars Forum Panels and Workshops;
- Theatre Visits, Book Launches and Social Events;
- Farewell banquet.
Each of these elements and how they intersect at the conference is explained below.
Keynote Lectures are devoted to theatre scholars who are research experts on the conference theme. Keynote Lectures are sessions in their own right which are delivered to all conferees who wish to attend. Good keynote speakers set a high standard for all those presenting at the conference and sometimes spark debates around aspects of the theme that last for the duration of the conference.
General Panel Presentations
General Panel Presentations are usually comprised of three to four speakers each of whom speaks for a maximum of 20 minutes. After all speakers have completed their papers there is a 30 minute discussion wherein audience members ask the panelists about issued raised in their papers. Papers in a panel are often organised around a focal topic which is moderated by a Panel Chair. Many Panels run concurrently, so you should read the conference programme carefully and choose those panels you consider most helpful to you. You are encouraged to ask other conferees what Panels they have attended or would recommend.
Please note that all conferees can only present papers once during the conference, either within a General Panel, a Working Group session or the New Scholars Forum.
Working Group Meetings
Working Group Meetings are sessions during which Working Groups meet (each in their own designated venue) to work on their selected research focus for up to ten hours during the conference. The IFTR has a total of 24 Working Groups of which there are currently 23 extant Working Groups on a host of subject structured in five main categories:
- Drama in/and Performance: Samuel Beckett; Translation, Adaptation and Dramaturgy.
- Methodologies: Historiography; The Theatrical Event.
- Performing Practices: Performance as Research; Processus De Création. La Génétique De La Représentation.
- Stage Forms: Choreography and Corporeality; Music Theatre; Scenography; Intermediality in Theatre and Performance; Theatre Architecture.
- Theatre and Cultural Studies: Queer Futures; Political Performances; Performance and Religion; Popular Entertainments; Arabic Theatre; African Theatre and Performance; Feminist Research; Asian Theatre; Performance in Public Spaces; Performance and Disability.
You may join a Working Group by approaching the respective convenor(s) via email in the first instance, but bear in mind that Working Group membership policies vary. You may join only one Working Group. Details of the Working Groups are found on the IFTR website and the richness of your conference experience has a lot to do with finding the right Working Group for you. Any IFTR member can join a Working Group regardless of whether or not they happen to be a New Scholar. When you attend your first IFTR conference you might choose to attend sessions of one or more Working Groups, provided you have obtained their permission in advance. You may also be interested to hear what other Working Groups are discussing by attending their public panel presentations which are scheduled during the General Panels.
New Scholars are defined as either graduate students or post-doctoral researchers whose PhDs have been completed less than three years previously. Researchers without PhDs who have been in an academic post for less than three years also qualify as New Scholars. New Scholars are offered special opportunities and encouragements at IFTR conferences. If you have not previously been to an IFTR conference, sign up for the New Scholars Forum and you get to meet all those who are also early career academics, researchers and theatre practitioners. Moreover you will soon discover that many of your aspirations and concerns are shared by your fellow scholars. The New Scholars have a welcome reception in the conference. There are usually two New Scholars Workshops in which senior scholars offer advice on pertinent matters such as 'how to get published' or 'how to present a paper well'.
New scholars present in specific panels called the New Scholars Forum. Up to five scholars present for 10 minutes each and then there is 30 minutes or more for discussion of all the papers. These panels are usually chaired or attended by senior scholars who also comment and contribute to the discussion. It is a marvelous learning opportunity. New Scholars don't have to present on the conference theme. They can present on their current research (eg for doctoral or post-doctoral purposes). The New Scholars also get to elect their own specific representative to the IFTR Executive Committee which meets at the beginning and end of each annual conference and actually runs the Federation.
Social Events, Theatre Visits, Book Launches, Book Displays
On the conference website each year, tourist outings before and after the conference are offered to all delegates (for a reasonable fee). So are theatre visits to performances and events, as well as at least one social gathering such as a cocktail party or closing party. Book launches are usually held at lunch or tea time and there are several book displays with publishing house representatives in attendance where everyone can browse and order books, or talk about a book you want to write.
The Farwell Banquet takes place near the end of the conference and involves food, drink, dancing and invariably a lot of fun as conferees relax and unwind after a busy week. You pay extra for this and it is enjoyable, but you do not have to attend if it is unaffordable on your budget.
The Conference Programme
Conferences are very busy and very full; they run all day every day for at least five days and sometimes even more.
Conferences begin with registration where you must go and register for the conference and pay – if you have not already done so – and collect your conference pack. Within the first day there is usually an opening ceremony that introduces you to conferenceconvenor(s), the conference schedule, the IFTR leadership, and what to watch out for.
Thereafter the next four or five days are devoted to sessions of usually 90 minutes, interspersed by morning and afternoon refreshment breaks and a lunch hour. The sessions are allocated variously to Keynote Lectures; General Panel Presentations; Working Group Meetings; New Scholars Forum Panels and Workshops.
So you spend five days dashing from place to place, hearing and participating in many discussions. Most of the sessions arediscussion based. Many use audiovisual aids. Some include performance and a few are studio workshops where you are on your feet participating. Whether you encounter the latter will depend upon the choices you make about what to attend.
Key points to remember ...
- Wear your conference badge at all times throughout the conference so that people can address you by name and assume they know you and are friendly just because you are a fellow-conferee.
- Keep your programme book, including the map of the conference venue and your laptop or smartphone, safely with you at all times so that you know what is happening when, and you know where to go.
- Make a backup of your own presentation on a flash drive and ideally a cloud server such as Dropbox, and send it to yourself on email, as well as in hard copy, in case of loss.
- Arrive punctually at all sessions so you don't lose the thread of a discussion.
- Speak slowly so that non-native English speakers and listeners can understand and follow you.
- Ask for help from the Reception desk personnel, the IFTR leadership to whom you have been introduced, or from any other conferee who is probably having just as hard a time fitting in as you might be!
- Eat and drink regularly to maintain your energy levels during long days involving intellectually challenging sessions.
- Introduce yourself to anybody to whom you might want to talk. They are probably just as keen to get to know new people as you are.
- Finally, and most importantly, enjoy yourself!