Call For Papers: IFTR Conference Stockholm 2016

14 October, 2015

PRESENTING THE THEATRICAL PAST INTERPLAYS OF ARTEFACTS, DISCOURSES AND PRACTICES Deadline for bursary applications: 1 December 2015 Deadline for proposals: 15 January 2016

The Theatre Architecture Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) invites paper proposals for our forthcoming meeting at IFTR 2016 Stockholm, where we will be adopting the conference theme to focus on critical perspectives on the history of theatre architecture, on exchanges between theatre and architecture, and on related historiographical issues. In addition, during the conference we will be holding a joint general panel with the Scenography Working Group to explore genealogies of theatre architecture and scenography. We suggest the following topics as possible points of interest for either our Working Group sessions or for the joint panel between the Theatre Architecture and Scenography Working Groups (but please feel free to propose your own topic). Information about who we are and how we work, and about submission procedures and bursaries can be found towards the end of this CFP.


Following the conference theme, we invite proposals that critically investigate historiographical issues relating to theatre architecture and the exchanges between the fields of theatre and architecture through attending to the interplay between artefacts, practices and discourses. Major histories of theatre architecture and performance space including Richard and Helen Leacroft’s Theatre and Playhouse: An Illustrated Survey of Theatre Building from Ancient Greece to the Present Day (1984), Marvin Carlson's Places of Performance (1989), and David Wiles' A Short History of Western Performance Space (2003), have provided valuable overviews of the changing shapes of our stages, and have shed light on why the theatre's stages and social spaces have taken the forms they have. But much work remains to be done on how we understand and write the history of theatre architecture, how we critically frame practices of conservation, restoration and reconstruction, and how we address sizeable gaps in our knowledge about the development of theatre architecture and performance space in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific.

Proposals may address (but are not limited to):

  • re-readings of historical theatres in the light of developments in critical theory (e.g. spatial theory)
  • artistic and critical practices that engage with historic theatre architectures and/or historic architectures (e.g. oral history, re-enactment, reconstruction)
  • theories and debates about the preservation, conservation or renovation of theatre buildings
  • re-assessments of historic relations between architecture, landscape, spectacle and performance
  • relations between dominant and local traditions and questions of cultural influence and/or appropriation in theatre architecture
  • questions that link the relevance of the purpose-built theatre in the twenty-first century to the broader development of the playhouse
  • theatre architecture and post-processual / interpretive (or other) archaeologies
  • theatre architecture and post-positivist (or other) histories



The Theatre Architecture and Scenography Working Groups invite proposals for contributions to a joint general panel during the IFTR Stockholm conference. This panel will represent both Working Groups by speaking to our shared interest in the histories and genealogies of theatre architecture and scenography, and to the intersections between past and present practices. Panelists will attend their primary Working Group meetings but will present their work during this joint panel. Contributions to this panel will take the form of 15-minute provocations that adopt a clear critical position in relation to this theme, and seek to open up further discussion with fellow panelists and members of both Working Groups.

Proposals may wish to address (but are not limited to):

  • historical convergences, divergences and intersections between scenography and architecture (see Olwig 2011)
  • different theoretical paradigms and sensual or aesthetic regimes that have influenced the development of scenography, architecture and theatre architecture
  • scenographic and architectural strategies by which performance and wider social/cultural activities have been ‘staged’ or presented historically (theatres, concert halls, ballrooms, parks, public open space, etc.)
  • scenographic and architectural strategies by which historic performance and wider social/cultural activities are now ‘restaged’ or presented (museums, historical re-enactments, ‘authentic’ performance, revivals of plays/performances, etc.)
  • the presentation or ‘restaging’ of historic architecture and scenography
  • the ‘presencing’ of architecture by scenography (and vice versa)
  • considerations of the dialectics of visual and spatial design


IFTR supports researchers suffering financial hardship by providing a limited number of bursaries each year. These bursaries are awarded on the basis of merit, relevance to the conference or Working Group theme, and financial need. Please visit for information and instructions about bursaries, and to download the application form.


Abstracts should be submitted through the conference website, which contains detailed instructions. Please visit and send a back-up copy to the Working Group co-convenors via email.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 January 2016. NB. If you apply for a bursary by 1 December 2015, you have to submit your abstract via the conference website by 15 January 2016 as well.

Additional information such as the form the proposed submission will take, or information about restrictions to your availability over the course of the IFTR World Congress, should be included on the online form under ‘equipment required’ and must be discussed (via email) with the Working Group co-conveners.


The purpose of the Theatre Architecture Working Group is to explore all that theatre architecture has been historically, is at present, and might be in the future. We consider built projects alongside unbuilt or speculative architectures, studying these from a wide range of practical and theoretical perspectives. We continue to investigate the ways in which space can be manipulated to bring performers and spectators into dynamic relationship inside traditional theatre auditoria, while also asking how else the disciplines of theatre and architecture inter-sect. Over the next four years, we will be focusing on three major strands of enquiry: a) theatre projects (especially those that provide insights into performing arts venues beyond Europe and North America); b) inter-disciplinary practices (including performance practices that closely engage with, radically undermine, critically re-examine or nakedly depend on architecture for their meaning and value, and architectural practices which employ performance, performativity and/or theatricality to transform our experiences of the built environment); c) inter-disciplinary pedagogies (especially those driven by the question of what is gained for students of one discipline in the encounter between that discipline and the other). We seek to develop theoretical paradigms appropriate to theatre and architecture and to the relationship between them – articulating the many contemporary sites of exchange between these fields and re-examining historical encounters in the light of recent developments in spatial theory, architecture theory and practice, and performance studies.


Dr. Juliet Rufford:

Dr. Andrew Filmer:


The Theatre Architecture Working Group is currently composed of scholars and practitioners of both disciplines from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Germany, Greece, Holland, Serbia, Turkey, the United States, and Wales. It works by circulating papers (of c. 3,500 words) to members in advance of the conference. Those who have circulated papers are invited to speak ‘to’ their paper for no more than 15 minutes after which time the whole group enters into discussion and Q&A on the longer paper. This format is structured to encourage in-depth exchange and a constructive and supportive ‘workshopping’ of members’ papers. We strongly encourage attendance at every session of the Working Group (usually in 1.5-2 hour slots spread over 2 or 3 days of the conference), and we give and receive feedback - and take group discussions further - in an atmosphere that is absolutely rigorous yet genuinely fun.

The full text of your paper should be emailed to the Working Group co-convenors for uploading into the Working Group’s Dropbox approximately two weeks ahead of the conference start date. For further information please do not hesitate to contact the co-convenors. You are reminded that in order to present your paper it is necessary to formally submit your abstract according to the guidelines on the conference website, register and pay for the conference and buy membership of IFTR. IFTR operates a banding system and a number of concessions - please explore your options by browsing the IFTR / IFTR 2016 Stockholm webpages.

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