Music Theatre

Music Theatre

The aim of the Music Theatre working group is to examine a broad range of methodological and theoretical perspectives on all kinds of music theatre, from opera and popular forms (such as Broadway and British musicals) to contemporary experiments with new forms of music theatre.

The background for the working group lies in our perception of the need to find new ways to deal with a subject which is part of at least two disciplines – theatre studies and musicology – but which is not, in fact, at home in either field. In our experience, musicologists tend to ignore the performance aspects and theatre scholars often forget about the music, so there is no doubt that we need to discuss music theatre from an interdisciplinary perspective. What our approaches all have in common is that they start from a notion of music theatre as theatre, performance and experience, always dealing with the interplay between all of the senses. Certainly not exhaustive, some areas of concern that extend to theatre and performance, broadly understood, include:

  • Acoustemologies of theatre / performance
  • Music in / as theatre and performance
  • Performativities of song and dance
  • Materialities of the voice
  • Phenomenology of sound / music in performance
  • Hearing cultures in performance: Cultural sounds and sounds in culture
  • Politics and aesthetics of Opera
  • Politics and aesthetics of Musicals
  • Composed Theatre
  • The Broadway and British Musical
  • Experimental music theatre
  • Hermeneutics of auditory reception in performance
  • Aurality and performance; Listening and Voice
  • Philosophies of sound / music in performance
  • Politics of silence
  • Noise / Music
  • Intersections of music, sound and the performing body
  • The Actor-Singer-Dancer

We welcome any scholar who works in the areas of sound / music and performance and would love for you to join us.
If you would like to know more about the Working Group, or if you have changed your e-mail-address, please contact the convenors (see below). 

WORKPLAN 2015-2018
The Working Group is a forum for the discussion of the field of music and/in theatre, broadly. This includes forms of music theatre, musical theatre, opera, soundscapes in performance and sound in performance. The Working Group would like to develop critical scholarship in these specific areas and supports projects that may arise from interests the develop such fields (publications, conferences, open panels, etc.). 

Belgrade 2018
The Working Group will be meeting in Belgrade for the IFTR conference 2018.

Sao Paulo 2017
The Working Group did not manage to meet in Sao Paulo 

Stockolm 2016
The Working Group met in Stockholm with twenty papers presented by WG members; there were many additional participants who sat in the sessions to contribute to the proceedings. There was significant focus on musical theatre, such as Hair and Hamilton, and opera with other papers examining the role of music in Shakespeare performance. A discussion on a possible Working Group publication was discussed at the Working Group meeting. In addition to the Working Group sessions, the Working Group also sponsored a panel, 'Sacre Variations: Adorno, Disney, Le Roy.'

Hyderabad 2015
The Working Group did not meet for IFTR 2015.

The group has published two edited collections with essays derived from discussions of the working group and comprised of chapters contributed by individual members.

The Legacy of Opera: Music Theatre as Experience and Performance (Rodopi Press, 2013) 

The first collection considers the way in which ideological and cultural assumptions have impacted on our contemporary view of music theatre, focussing in particular on the way that opera’s development as a form and status as an art has inscribed a very particular set of assumptions and expectations about the musical stage that twentieth century developments have had to negotiate. In this respect, opera is seen as a defining cultural form and practice whose shadow looms large over the popular and modernising developments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Gestures of Music Theatre: The Performativity of Song and Dance (Oxford University Press, 2013). 

There are two principal questions posed through this series of essays: how do song and dance function as physical and material gestures, as dimensions or perhaps sub-sets of music theatre works? How might identities be constituted for characters, performers and audiences within and through the song and dance of music theatre? The first consideration, through a series of philosophical discussions, engages with music theatre’s substance, function and form; the second, through analyses of those song and dance gestures in a range of music theatre contexts, engages with its reception, effect and affect.

Marcus Tan (; [2019-2022]
Tereza Havelkova ( [2019-2022]

Call for papers

Call for papers

07 July, 2014 | 0 comments

We're very excited to have received such a good response to the IFTR's call for papers. We have a packed schedule for the music theatre working group, and are really look forward to hearing your paper at this year's conference in Warwick (28th July to 1st August 2014). We are writing at this stage to begin preparing for the working group sessions, and also to remind you of some of the upcoming dates and deadlines for the conference. This email therefore asks you for a number of responses, so please read thoroughly and reply as appropriate. Read more

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