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Performance as Research

The Performance as Research Working Group investigates creative-academic issues raised by performance as research across performance media. It aims to investigate methods of performance as research and, in particular, to explore approaches to developing such methods through reflexive (and, where appropriate, participatory) performative presentations. Relevant issues in this investigation include knowledge types, aesthetic values, contextual responsiveness, practice/theory problematics and training methods. For the purposes of the Group, 'performance' is understood to include a range of media, from theatre through dance to film/video/television, and interlocking research interests, from aesthetic through thematic to contextual.

A number of key issues drive the Group, including the following:

The Nature of Performance as Research

What field(s) of activity does 'performance as research' describe? The working group investigates a range of performance as research activities in international higher education institutions.

The Significance of Performance

What knowledge(s) can performance generate and to what extent are knowledge and understanding increased by performance as research? How can the knowledge and experience of practitioners be integrated into university-based research cultures? We are developing a diverse range of case studies to produce knowledges surrounding notions of value. Our aim is to define the objectives, methodologies, procedures and focus of performance within its disciplinary and institutional context as well as to interrogate the appropriateness and effectiveness of the research methods.

Dissemination Issues

What are appropriate modalities through which to communicate about and in terms of performance? The performance as research group will consult on and realize a series of creative projects to advance potential uses of digital technologies for documentation and dissemination.

Institutional and Academic Frameworks

What is the meaning and standing of a qualification in performance research? What are the implications of developing bodies of practice and theory specific to performance as research?


This area is under development. Most recent publication:

New Members

The group is open to new members, though there will be a maximum of 25 members in each year, with some places reserved for new members each year. Membership is selected on the basis of submissions to produce a complementary mix of media, research interests and geographical spread, plus a consistency of core participant-presenters from year to year. In addition, there will be a small number of places for participant-respondents in each year.


Annette Arlander (Finland), Theatre Academy Helsinki 

Jonathan Heron (Britain), University of Warwick

Emma Meehan (Ireland), University of Coventry


Publications sub-committee 

Bruce Barton with Melanie Dreyer-Lude & Ben Spatz

Web and e-resource convenors

Juan Manuel Aldape & James Wilson


To submit abstracts and proposals, please email:


Next meeting: Warwick 2014

Last meeting: Barcelona 2013

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Strata of Knowledge:

Layers of Performance as Research


For the 2014 meeting of the Performance as Research Working Group of IFTR, we are sending out a call for papers, workshops and practices that will respond to the wider conference theme, “Theatre and Stratification”, but from a specifically PaR perspective, with a special focus on methodology and performance in a wide sense, including dance, theatre, live art and experimental practices. 


We are particularly interested in papers, workshops and practices that will engage with one or more of the following topics:


  • Layering knowledge in performance process: the ways in which PaR constitutes what Baz Kershaw calls ‘transdisciplinary innovation in action’ (Kershaw and Nicholson 2011). How, for example, do practitioner knowledges excavate or displace disciplinary and/or institutional assumptions and epistemologies? How do questions, problems, artistic experiments and ‘feedback loops’ work in relation to performance process? Do they need to be layered in a specific order or sequence?
  • Positioning performance as research: how much is the position of performance in a research project still considered of secondary status, as a means of gathering data or an experience which instigates research, at the bottom (or beginning) of a research project? How much is it considered the means of distributing or disseminating knowledge: as an addendum to the process, and of secondary status again. What is the position of performance (or practice or the artwork) in the multilayered process of performance as research?  Where could it be placed?
  • Exposing hierarchies of performance as research: what problems are associated with this methodology? What social and political strata exist in performance as research, for example, who is undertaking the research and who has access? How does the methodology expose issues of inclusivity and difference across cultures? What hierarchies exist in how PaR is perceived by and representedto institutions, practitioners and scholars? 
  • Excavating levels of performance as research: As Mark Fleishman writes, PaR ‘is a series of embodied repetitions in time, on both micro and macro levels, in search of a difference’ (TRI, 2012). How does the research context make and unmake the performance event? What forms of knowledge, in practice, are excavated for the purposes of publication, dissemination and public engagement? How do co-investigators distribute roles and responsibilities? Is collaboration a form of co-authorship, a division of labour and/or a stratification of authority?



The PAR working-group at any conference is strictly limited to 25 participants. You can participate in the WG as a presenter orparticipant. Please mark your preferred role clearly on your abstract submission.


To join as a presenter, please send an abstract of (maximum) 250 words via the IFTR/CUP/Warwick (TBC) website by 15 January 2014. Please copy your abstract to Annette Arlander, Emma Meehan and Jonathan Heron at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The process for accepting abstracts will be competitive.   The three Working Group convenors will review all abstracts and make selections. A maximum of 15 presentations will be selected.


To join as a participant, please submit a short letter of motivation by 15 January 2014, directly to Annette, Emma and Jonathan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  indicating why you would like to be a participant/observer and not a presenter and what your interest in the topic is. A maximum of 10 participants will be selected. It is required that participants will be registered for the conference.


The chosen presenters will then be invited to write a 3000word paper. The papers will be made available to all group members, before the conference. The concept ‘paper’ should be understood as including a range of styles and formats from the more traditional academic writing to performance writing to discursive media-rich formats. All finalized papers must be submitted by 2 June 2014(eight weeks before the conference) and any papers submitted after this date will be excluded from the Working Group.


Before the conference, presenters will be grouped together by the convenors and will be asked to communicate with each other to plan their session in advance of the conference.  Each sub-group will prepare a mode of communicating the research papers that fits within the allocated time slot (practical workshop, performative dialogue, collaborative action etc.). The sub-group presentation usually includes a series of embodied activities that complement the writing and ground its content in felt experience, rather than re-iterating the writing, although extracts from the writings can be included in the presentations. 


Participants will be expected to read all of the papers produced by the presenters, to participatein the workshop activities and discussions, and to act as respondents to specific papers or presentations. 


In addition, as has been the case in previous years, we will be proposing a panel from the Working Group to the main conference program.  There is no separate call for the panel, which will be based on the general working group call above.  If you wish to be considered for the panel rather than for presentation in the working group sessions, please indicate this clearly in your abstract submission.


We remain committed to enabling new members and less-experienced PaR artist-scholars to engage with the Working Group, and we will reserve up to 10 places at the Warwick meeting for them. These people may elect to formally present or propose attendance simply as a participant. Applicants who wish to be considered for one of these places should submit a brief CV and statement of interest in Performance as Research (and abstract if they wish to present) to Annette, Emma and Jonathan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  by 15 January 2014


All applicants should also follow the instructions regarding submission through the conference website.


We look forward to your responses to this call - whether igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic!


Annette Arlander, Jonathan Heron and Emma Meehan

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