CfP: Performance in Public Space working group, IFTR 2021

06 January, 2021 by Swati Arora | 0 comments

CfP: Performance in Public Space working group, IFTR 2021

CfP: Performance in Public Spaces Working Group, IFTR 2021, Galway 12-16 July. ‘Theatre Ecologies: Environments, Sustainability, and Politics’. Deadline for submission: 31 January 2021.

Recent years have seen an eruption of protests to register a refusal of a hierarchical world where the normal is marked by anti-Black violence, heteropatriarchy, ableism and racialised capitalism, disrupting public spaces throughout the globe. The resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests in Spring 2020 was a resolute demand for the abolition of the carceral state. The global pandemic that followed provided a ‘reckoning’ (Dionne Brand 2020), highlighting the brutal calculus of life and death that determines who is allowed visibility on the streets. The crises of 2020 was not unprecedented; the racialised responses to the origins of Covid in Wuhan, China reinforced the already existing social and geopolitical othering in our public lives.

Led by grannies, Shaheen Bagh protests against the unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act challenged the violence of nationhood and borders in India. Extinction Rebellion stopped traffic in busy city centres throughout the UK, protests in Hong Kong and Chile used arresting images to further their cause, while tractors took over the roads in the Netherlands fighting against claims that Dutch farms emissions were too high. According to Laila Malik, the ecological consequences of climate change disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. ‘Within the global South and the colonised, racially and economically stratified North, women, LGBTIQ and other marginalized communities are the first to suffer and die in increasingly common climate-related catastrophe’, Malik highlighted (Oct 3, 2019). Many would argue this is the case not just for the environment but social and political ecologies as well. This calls into question: how do subordinate groups use performative methodologies to challenge the ecologies of public space? 

Performing in Public Spaces calls to mind a variety of intentions - from community focused events to political interventions - public spaces provide celebrations, interventions, and protests with a view to reach outside of the traditional performing arts audiences to those of the broader community. Bottoms et al. define site-based performance, as a genre which ‘frames and highlights the environments in which it takes place’ (2012). The 2019 climate change protest, Extinction Rebellion, disrupted urban spaces with visual spectacles to advance their cause, while Declan Gibbons, the creator of Galway based, Macnas Festival, defined the visual statements of street-based performance as fundamentally a statement of  anti-elitist arts, accessible for all. In the light of these developments, we ask: How do performances in public spaces reveal, or conceal, the ecologies of man-made, natural, or community-informed environments? What does the intersection between performance practice and the environment (be it natural, social, and/or political) bring into being? How does performing in public spaces defy global power structures?

The Performance in Public Spaces Working Group invites papers and/or performance interventions exploring how Theatre, Performance, and Performative protest movements use public space to highlight, resist, challenge, and defy social, political, and environmental ecologies. By looking at performative interventions in public space, we ask: how do artists, activists, and the public ecologies collide, through performative, digital, social, and cultural statements of protest? How do individuals acting on the sidelines of social and environmental ecologies use performative means to renegotiate social power structures? We welcome new members and are keen to hear from academics across all career stages and geographical locations.

We welcome academic papers/performative interventions/participatory workshops, responding but not limited to the following topics:

The Black Outdoors

Ecologies of Public Protest

Covid and Anti-Black Violence

Performance and Political Activism 

Performing Climate Change

Feminist Temporalities

Anti-Colonial and Decolonial Performance Practices

Performing the Anthropocene

Ecologies of Rupture

Ecologies of Site-Based Performance 

Conference papers will be pre-circulated to co-panellists and one discussant. Deadline for circulation of papers:
15th June 2021. Please make sure that your papers are not more than 2500 words long. Since this is an online conference, we encourage the presenters to support their papers with some visual material to enable greater participation and ease of access. 

We are working on publishing an edited volume of essays, with contributions from our past and current members, and will release a formal invitation for it this summer.

Note: Colleagues whose papers were accepted for presentation in the Working Group for the cancelled 2020 conference will have their abstracts automatically accepted for 2021. You could submit the same abstract, or a revised version, through the website here:

Cover photo:

For further information, please contact the Working Group co-convenors:

Dr Holly Maples (University of Essex) -

Dr Swati Arora (Queen Mary, University of London) -   

Dr Rebecca Savory Fuller (Arts University Bournemouth):


Submissions deadline: 31st January 2021.


We’re on Twitter! @IFTRpublicperf

Conference hashtag: #IFTRPiPS

Abstracts should be submitted through the IFTR’s online system, managed by Cambridge Journals. Details are available on the IFTR website:

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