Society for Theatre Research Annual Conference*
29thand 30th, 2020*
Graft: Performance, Labour and Value*
annual conference of the Irish Society for Theatre Research invites
and performance presentations that consider the intersection of
labour and value. How is labour valued in theatre and
scholarship and practice? Whose labour gets recognised, and
labour remains invisible? The conference considers these questions
two interrelated tracks: the external, societal/institutional values
on performance practices, texts, artists and research; and the value
in operation within theatre and performance practice and
the ongoing context of diminishing support for the arts and humanities
pressure continues to be placed on those working in
scholarship and practice to defend the importance and value of
labour. Simultaneously, the “creative industries” continue to be
as an area of exciting potential, and as Jen Harvie highlights, in
contemporary global, neoliberal world order, ‘artists, arts and culture
currently being instrumentalized as economically important’ (*Fair
Art, Performance and Neoliberalism, *(2013), p.64). This importance
translates into increased economic support for arts workers, who are
viewed as perfect examples of “model” entrepreneurs and autonomous,
labourers (Rosalind Gill and Andy Pratt, 2008). In the editorial
a 2013 special issue of *Performance Research*“On Value”, Joslin
and Mick Wallis frame their discussion of the cultural value of
within the context of funding cuts to the arts and the
necessity for artworks to provide “value for money” (McKinney
Wallis, 2013). Alongside other contributors to the debate, they also
the gulf between how arts practices are valued externally by
bodies and institutions, and the difficulty of tackling the messy
and immeasurability of “intrinsic” values, such as the social,
and inter-relational aspects (Ibid). Little can be seen
have changed in the prevailing socio-economic context of subsequent
and the question remains as to how research in the performing arts
provide productive ways to think differently about how labour in the
is measured and valued?
an article on ‘Stealth Pedagogies’, Bryony Trezise questions how
labour can keep the “radical disciplinary intentions” and the
of thought” (Sarah Ahmed, 2017) of performance alive within
hierarchies that ‘value certain (dis)embodiments of thought
others’ (Trezise, 2019). What advantages or disadvantages does the
of creative energies, modes of thought, and affective labour in
arts for *other *fields of research have on how performing arts
perceive their own labour? How is immaterial labour valued in
fields of theatre and performance scholarship? Grass roots feminist
such as Waking The Feminists have brought awareness to the gender
in the Irish theatre industry in the realm of the visible,
the representation in funded institutions of male versus female
directors and designers, for example. This important work
the question of what invisible labour is supporting current
and industry hierarchies? What falls outside of current
of evaluation and record keeping? As Susan Leigh Foster highlights
her study of value in dance, ‘[v]alue accrues through individual choices
that people make and is often established through the practices and
institutions that assign significance to various kinds of objects and
events’ (*Valuing Dance*, 2019, p.1). How might theatre and performance
scholarship and practice harness this agency for action through the labour
of individual choice, and how might this affect the accrual of value?
Proposals for paper and performance presentations are invited to address
the following questions, or any other related aspect of the conference
– How is time valued in theatre and performance practice and research?
– What is the relationship between authenticity and value in theatre?
– What “invisible” labour exists in performance practice and research?
And who performs it?
– What performance texts, practices or corporealities remain
unacknowledged and/or undervalued within theatre research?
– How do institutions bestow value on theatre and performance
– What happens when performances and/or performance texts reference
the labour that has gone into producing them?
– How does a knowledge of the labour that has produced a performance
element alter its perceived value?
– What alternative models of value can be found in operation in
theatre and performance practices and/or research?
– Are there associations that de-value performance
– How is the value of liveness in performance transforming in an age
of social media?
– How does theatre performance and scholarship allow for a valuing of
unproductivity, of failure, or of a lack of resilience?
– What are the advantages and/or dangers of considering invisible
labour outside of economic terms?
Dr Aoife Monks (Queen Mary University of London) is a confirmed keynote
speaker, and the conference will close with a plenary roundtable bringing
together invited speakers from industry and research. Further details will
be announced on the ISTR website as they are confirmed.
Proposals are very welcome from researchers at every career stage and from
researchers working in any discipline related to theatre and performance
studies. We invite proposals for papers, panel discussions, artist talks,
workshops, and short performance demonstrations. Proposals that engage with
the conference theme in both an Irish and/or an international context are
welcome. Proposals outside of the conference theme, but that are related to
theatre and performance on the island of Ireland will also be considered.
The conference welcomes all corporealities and the conference facilities
are fully accessible. All accompanying children are very welcome but must
be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times. There will be a
dedicated breastfeeding room that parents with babies or toddlers can use
as a quiet space.
*Format for submissions:*
Papers, artist talks, and practice demonstrations should be of maximum 20
minutes duration. Proposals for workshops and performances must specify
activity length (a maximum of 1hour duration is recommended). Proposals for
other, non-standard presentation formats are also encouraged.
Please include the following in your proposal:
· Names of presenter/s and organisational/institutional affiliation/s
· Title and type of submission (e.g. paper, artist talk, panel,
· Technical, spatial and duration requirements;
· Biography of each presenter (max 150 words);
· 300-word abstract/description.
*Submission and Deadline:*
Proposals should be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org
On or before *14th February 2020*
Decisions will be communicated by *March 2020.*
Full Fee (including ISTR Membership): £100
Student/Unwaged Fee (including ISTR Membership): £40
A limited number of small bursaries will be available to support
postgraduate students who wish to present at the conference. If you wish to
be considered for a postgraduate bursary, please indicate this in your
proposal. Bursaries will be awarded competitively, based on the quality of
proposals received. These bursaries are sponsored by the School of Arts,
English and Languages, Queen’s University Belfast, last year’s host
institution, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, and ISTR.
Please contact the conference convenor, Dr Aoife McGrath, with any queries:
Dr Aoife McGrath
Subject Lead, Drama
Brian Friel Centre
School of Arts, English and Languages
Queen’s University Belfast