CfP: Performance in Public Spaces Working Group, IFTR 2020

19 December, 2019 by Swati Arora | 0 comments

CfP: Performance in Public Spaces Working Group, IFTR 2020

CfP: International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) 2020, Galway 8-12 July. ‘Theatre Ecologies: Environments, Sustainability, and Politics’

Call for Papers: Performance in Public Spaces Working Group

International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) 2020, Galway 8-12 July.

‘Theatre Ecologies; Environments, Sustainability, and Politics’


2019 has seen an eruption of performative protests against climate change, disrupting public spaces throughout the globe. 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. Most recently, Indian protests surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act have all used visually dynamic performative protests to further dialogue between the public and global institutions of power. According to Laila Malik, the ecological consequences of climate change disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. “Within the global South and the colonized, 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” (2012:1). 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 particularly encourage our local participants to devise urban performative interventions to enable the group's engagement with Galway's ecologies.

Our working group activities will include an artist-led guided walk of Galway, following our commitment to work with local artists in each IFTR host city. We welcome academic papers and/or performative interventions/participatory workshops, responding but not limited to the following topics:

Performing Climate Change

Ecologies of Public Protest

Social Ecologies and Public Space

Feminist Performing Ecologies

Anti-Colonial Ecologies

Performing the Anthropocene

Ecologies of Rupture

Ecologies of Site Based Performance 

Street Performance and Protest

Intersections of Public Space and the Environment

Environmental Performance


Conference papers will be pre-circulated to co-panellists and one discussant. Deadline for circulation of papers: 19th June 2020.

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

Dr Holly Maples (University of Essex) -

Dr Swati Arora (King's College, London) -

Dr Rebecca Savory Fuller (Arts University Bournemouth):

Submissions deadline: 31st January 2020.


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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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