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Music Theatre

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  1. TRAINING (of the Actor-Singer-Dancer)
    • Musicality / Rhythm as Schematics
    • Writing
    • Across Genres
    • Intersections
    • Hearing & Listening

    • Economics
    • Structural Concerns
    • Commercial and / vs Artistic
    • Definitions of Success / Failure
    • Across Genres
    • Public Expectations and Conditions
    • Role of Critics
    • Composition of the Audience (Homogenous?)
    • Audience-Consumer or Citizen

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September, 2014

The aim of the Music Theatre working group is to discuss a broad range of methodological and theoretical perspectives on all kinds of music theatre, from opera and popular forms (such as Broadway musicals) to contemporary experiments with new forms of music theatre. The background for the working group is our perception of the need to find new ways to deal with a subject which is part of at least two disciplines – theatre studies and musicology – but which is not, in fact, at home in either field. In our experience, musicologists tend to forget about the performance aspect and theatre scholars often forget about the music, so there is no doubt that we need to discuss music theatre from an interdisciplinary perspective. What our approaches all have in common is that they start from a notion of music theatre as theatre, performance and experience, always dealing with the interplay between all of the senses. Certainly not exhaustive, some areas of concern that extend to theatre and performance, broadly understood, include:

  • Acoustemologies of theatre / performance
  • Music in / as theatre and performance
  • Performativities of song and dance
  • Materialities of the voice
  • Phenomenology of sound / music in performance
  • Hearing cultures in performance: Cultural sounds and sounds in culture
  • Politics and aesthetics of Opera
  • Politics and aesthetics of Musicals
  • Composed Theatre
  • The Broadway and British Musical
  • Experimental music theatre
  • Hermeneutics of auditory reception in performance
  • Aurality and performance; Listening and Voice
  • Philosophies of sound / music in performance
  • Politics of silence
  • Noise / Music
  • Intersections of music, sound and the performing body
  • The Actor-Singer-Dancer

We welcome any scholar who works in the areas of sound / music and performance and would love for you to join us.
If you would like to know more about the Working Group, or if you have changed your e-mail-address, please contact the convenors (see below).


The group has published two edited collections with essays derived from discussions of the working group and comprised of chapters contributed by individual members.

The Legacy of Opera: Music Theatre as Experience and Performance (Rodopi Press, 2013)

The first collection considers the way in which ideological and cultural assumptions have impacted on our contemporary view of music theatre, focussing in particular on the way that opera’s development as a form and status as an art has inscribed a very particular set of assumptions and expectations about the musical stage that twentieth century developments have had to negotiate. In this respect, opera is seen as a defining cultural form and practice whose shadow looms large over the popular and modernising developments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Gestures of Music Theatre: The Performativity of Song and Dance (Oxford University Press, 2013).

There are two principal questions posed through this series of essays: how do song and dance function as physical and material gestures, as dimensions or perhaps sub-sets of music theatre works? How might identities be constituted for characters, performers and audiences within and through the song and dance of music theatre? The first consideration, through a series of philosophical discussions, engages with music theatre’s substance, function and form; the second, through analyses of those song and dance gestures in a range of music theatre contexts, engages with its reception, effect and affect.

Work Plan

We will be meeting at the next IFTR conference in Hyderabad, India, 2015.
More information will be available soon.

Marcus Tan (
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George Rodosthenous ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )


Last Meeting: IFTR World Congress, Warwick, UK 2014
Next Meeting: IFTR Annual Conference, Hyderabad, India 2015

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We're very excited to have received such a good response to the IFTR's call for papers. We have a packed schedule for the music theatre working group, and are really look forward to hearing your paper at this year's conference in Warwick (28th July to 1st August 2014). We are writing at this stage to begin preparing for the working group sessions, and also to remind you of some of the upcoming dates and deadlines for the conference. This email therefore asks you for a number of responses, so please read thoroughly and reply as appropriate.

First, in regard to registering (you should already have been contacted by the main conference organisers about this), please be aware that the early bird deadline for cheap registration ends on April 30th.

Second, in terms of organising our working group sessions, we will be having two different types of activity. There will be one open session, to which other interested delegates at the conference are freely invited. This session will involve selected individuals presenting papers in standard conference procedure. The time allocated to each paper will be twenty minutes with an opportunity of ten minutes for discussion. There will also be a number of closed sessions, which will only be attended by members of our working group. These will discuss papers that have been pre-circulated, so that the feedback of group members can be prepared in advance. The time allotted to speak is therefore a 10-min slot, offering more of a reminder to the group as to what issues your paper addresses, rather than a repetition of its content. Here, the group will be allowed up to 20mins of feedback and constructive suggestions about your work.

This year, the conference organisers have timetabled working group slots every day of the conference (Mon 28 Jul - Fri 1 Aug), and the next stage for us is to schedule papers to particular slots. Therefore, could we ask that you inform us as soon as possible a) whether you will be attending the conference, and b) if any particular day(s) will not be suitable to discuss your paper.

If your paper has been selected for a closed session, please prepare a paper of between 1000-3000 words for pre-circulation by June 30th.

Third, we have a number of organisational matters to prepare, and are seeking nominations and a vote on the following (see explanations below):

  *   (i) An editorial board for Working Group Publications. 31st March 2014 (Monday).
  *   (ii) Working Group Name - keep it / change it / schedule sub-groups to discuss certain themes? Please respond by 31st March 2014
  *   (iii) New Convenors. Nominations sought for 3 people. 31st March 2014

(i) Editorial Board for Working Group Publications. This would be comprised of 6-7 people, which automatically includes whoever are the 2-3 Working Group Convenors plus 4-5 nominees, the latter of whom are also voted for - if necessary. The function of the Board is to vet proposals made by the Working Group for group publication projects. The feedback from the Editorial Board would be supportive and advisory and help to increase the Working Group's chances of publication success. These roles can be performed remotely (ie regardless of conference attendance). If you would be interested in being involved in this procedure, please nominate yourselves to Pamela and Dominic by 31st March 2014.

(ii) The current Convenors, Dominic and Pamela, are happy with the Working Group's name Music Theatre, though discussion at last year's conference in Barcelona suggested that members desired an open dialogue about this with, potentially, the chance to put things to a vote. If you have other suggestions for naming the working group, please offer these suggestions by 31st March 2014 to Pamela and Dominic.

(iii)  Dominic and Pamela's four year tenure as convenors is officially ending this year. So the IFTR expect a re-election of convenors. We are happy to stand down to allow new nominees a chance to take over. We need to get some nominations forthcoming via email, and would therefore like to invite anyone interested in becoming convenor to nominate yourself, again by 31st March 2014.

Many thanks in advance for your cooperation with this information; we look forward to seeing you in Warwick.

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