CfP: Performances in Public Spaces working group, IFTR 2019

15 November, 2018 by Swati Arora | 0 comments

Call for Papers: International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) 2019, Shanghai 8-12 July. ‘Theatre, Performance & Urbanism’, Performance in Public Spaces Working Group


Lewis Mumford, an innovator of 20th century urban planning, historically described the city as a ‘theater of social action’ (Mumford, 1937): a site that performs, disrupts, and constructs social identities, politics, and cultures through performative means. Likewise, theatrical and performance interventions in the urban landscape are not new. Street performance, public demonstrations, agit-prop, festivals, site specific work, installations, multimedia, and virtual sites have all engaged with urban spaces in ways that respond to and/or contest the urban landscape.  


While Urban Studies has long sought to provide a useful way for understanding the city for administrative purposes, in terms of planning, design and architecture, Jen Harvie asks how ‘an understanding of theatre in the city [can] help us make sense of urban social experience’ (Harvie, 2009). What perspectives can Theatre and Performance Studies bring to Urban Studies, and to an understanding of Urbanism? How might these disciplines interact and intersect in order to make sense of urban public spaces, public performances, cultural memory, and urban change? The Performance in Public Spaces Working Group invites papers and/or performance works exploring how Theatre and Performance, with its focus on an aesthetics of repair, can provide the possibility of an alternative social imagination, through interrogations of the performative urban sphere.


By looking at performances in the city and of the city, we ask: how do artists, city planners, and the public perform the city, by engaging with the digital, the social, the cultural, and other means? What are the potentialities of bringing the two disciplines into conversation with each other? What can Performance Studies offer that the discipline of Urban Studies misses, especially in a non-European context? We seek to problematise borders, not just those that separate academic disciplines, but also of native/migrant and centre/periphery. How do we understand the everyday materiality of the city through colonial memory, national history, ethnic strife and gender politics? What is the role and effect of theatre and performance on urban planning and sustainable lifestyles?


Our working group activities will include an artist-led guided walk of Shanghai, 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:


City and tragedy

Borders in/of city

Animality and the city

Trauma and the city

Performing the periphery

The political city

The policed city

Tasting the city

Sounding the city

City ruins

The dangerous city

The urban garbage

Edible geographies

The tourist consumer

Memory and the city

Walking in the city

Technology and the city

The weeds in the cracks

Performing urban labour


Conference papers will be pre-circulated to co-panellists and one discussant. Deadline for circulation of papers: 17th June 2019.


For further information:  Please contact the Working Group co-convenors.

Dr Holly Maples (Brunel University) -

Dr Swati Arora (Centre for Humanities Research, UWC) -

Dr Rebecca Savory Fuller (Arts University Bournemouth) -


We're on twitter: @IFTRpublicperf


Submissions deadline: 7th January 2019.

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


Postgraduate bursary applications deadline: 20th November 2018.

For further information on the IFTR bursary scheme, visit:


Further conference information is available on the IFTR conference webpages:

Stay up to date with the IFTR Weekly Digest