Call: Embodied Engagement: Participatory And Immersive Performance (TaPRA 2013)

Call for Participation – TaPRA – 2013

Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA)

University of Glasgow and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS)
4th- 6th September 2013

Performance and the Body Working Group
Performance and New Technologies Working Group

Title: Embodied Engagement: Participatory And Immersive Performance

The Performance and the Body and Performance and New Technologies Working Groups are joining forces this year to explore different bodily, aesthetic, political, ethical and economical aspects of participation in the current performance milieu. In a performance context where hierarchies of participation are being reconfigured and traditional authorial claims are under stress, new articulations of spectator/performer reciprocity can no longer be disregarded. Focusing on audience experience, we intend to examine possibilities of participant (spectators and performers) agency and empowerment within different modes of performance transaction. According to Adrian Heathfield, contemporary performance has shifted aesthetically from ‘the optic to the haptic, from the distant to the immersive, from the static relation to the interactive’. The dialogue between the two Working Groups aims to explore the productive tensions between bodies and technologies in the development of this shift. The contested term ‘immersive’ is a rich, under-theorized concept which pulls in and works across distinct constituencies of performance. It calls upon diverse technologies to create its performance environments and promote active bodily engagement. Immersion both as an artistic intention and a perceived process is identified with concepts of viscerality, authenticity and immediacy. Yet the question remains as to how effective immersion can be in engaging audiences mentally, emotionally and corporeally. Proposals do not need to address both issues of bodies and technologies, but might consider the following issues, though these are not exclusive:

  • The bodily risk of participation;
  • Immersive practices as a democratisation of performance;
  • Spectator’s authority, authorship and agency in immersive performances;
  • Discomfort and fear: the ethics of enforced participation;
  • Sensory inscribed experiences: synaesthetic experiments of flesh;
  • Soundscapes: the corporeality of immersion;
  •  Ethics of immersion in locative games, mobile interfaces, social media platforms;
  • Mapping and constructing hybrid, artificial and mixed-media spaces;
  • Temporalities of immersion;
  •  Embodiment/Disembodiment: game space and everyday life;
  • Cognitive engagement: willing suspension of disbelief in performance;
  • ‘Passive’ and ‘active’ audiences;
  • Political contexts of participatory work;
  • Empathy and audience engagement;
  • Intentionality and sensual experience;


Please send a 300 word proposal, a short biographical statement, and an outline of technical requirements by 29th April 2013 to the working groups convenors. Proposals, if accepted, may be directed into a range of presentational formats: traditional panels (with 20 minute papers); pre-circulated papers that form the basis for a short presentation and discussion; or, where appropriate, performance-based panels. While we welcome statements of preference, final decisions will be made by the working groups convenors and will be indicated at the time of acceptance. We welcome alternative, practice-as-research or performative proposals that engage rigorously with the theme, but these must be achievable with limited resources and within a 20-30 minute time period. Please send your proposals to the convenors of both Working Groups but indicate which group you are a member of or which you would identify with:

The convenors of the Performance and the Body Working Group are James Frieze: and Lib Taylor:

The convenors of the New Technologies Working Group are Martin Blain:, Maria Chatzichristodoulou: and Eirini Nedelkopoulou:

Working Group Management

We will have at least one Working Group session where the two Working Groups work independently of each other. The two Working Groups also warmly welcome participants who do not wish to present a paper this year. Only one proposal may be submitted for the TaPRA 2013 Conference. It is not permitted to submit proposals to several working groups, whether these are the same or different proposals. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. you need to register for the conference in order to present your paper. This includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast. If your paper has been accepted, yet you have not registered for the Conference by the registration deadline of 2 August 2013, we will deem you no longer intend to participate and present at TaPRA 2013.


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