This conference invites investigations into all aspects of how contemporary Anglophone theatre and performance reflect, resist, and interact with the city.
As the role of traditional theatre spaces in the city has declined, the city has emerged as a performance space in and of itself. While often facilitating the creative empowerment of entire communities, this conflation of theatre spaces and the enhanced performativity of city life also inevitably implicates theatrical practices in the systemic injustices of urban architectures and their dramaturgies. This conference invites investigations into all aspects of how contemporary Anglophone theatre and performance reflect, resist, and interact with the city.
With the percentage of the world’s urban population soaring past the 50 percent mark, the complexities and inequalities of city ecologies are at the forefront of our social dilemmas. The increasing popularity of the site-specific and the participatory indicates a distinct shift in the politics of theatre, notably in how its urban demographics are constituted. Anglophone theatre, in particular, has witnessed a proliferation of genres and techniques instigating an exodus from the theatre building since the 1960s, with performances invading city roof-tops and other urban spaces to meet their audiences. Yet the city has also re-entered theatre by way of elaborate staging (immersive sets) and dramaturgies. As these practices keep evolving, theatre and the city continue to transform one another (Anne Hamburger’s En Garde Arts site-specific productions in New York, or Deborah Warner’s The Angel Project throughout London and New York and others; for more references, see longer version of the CFP.)
Hybrid forms have thrived by mixing technology with ambulatory theatrical explorations, re-engaging with earlier dramaturgical traditions. Playwrights have explored cities as processes forming a complex urban landscape throughout national territories and have penned the difficulties of urban communities from segregation to the death of the working class while developing new voices to convey these plights.
Tracking all these changes is at the heart of this conference in order to investigate how theatre and the city are productively embroiled and particularly how contemporary Anglophone theatre has redefined the rich and complex meanings of urbanity, blurring borders between centre and periphery, street and stage, performer and spectator. How, then, are urban theatrical communities created today in the context of global and cosmopolitan cities? How do the walls of both cities and theatres rise and fall in today’s theatrical practices?
Hosted by RADAC, the Sorbonne, University of Gustave Eiffel, Avignon, and Le Mans, the conference will be held at the Fondation des Etats-Unis within the Cité Internationale Universitaire and at the Sorbonne in Paris.