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Call for Papers
The Music Theatre Working Group will be convening at the IFTR conference in Barcelona in 2013. At this meeting we plan to discuss three broad areas of our ongoing work.
Contributions are welcomed in any of the three discussion areas:
1. Your own current research pertaining to music theatre, where it contributes to the ongoing focus of the working group (Performance, Experience, Emergence).
2. CULTURE, VOICE AND IDENTITY: Contributions relating to the proposed publication concerning nationhood, voice, non-Western cultures, intercultural, Indigenous music theatre practices.
3. NEW DIRECTIONS: Contributions relating to a new area of discussion concerning the identity of music theatre scholarship.
Please see below for further information about areas (2) and (3) above.
To present abstracts for papers to be presented in Working Groups for 2013 Conference, you must submit your 300 word abstract through the abstract submission page at Cambridge Journals Online http://journals.cambridge.org/iftr specifying which Working Group you are interested in applying to.
The deadline for submission is January 31st 2013; please note the need to be a current IFTR/FIRT member in order to send an abstract. You can also register for membership at the Cambridge Journals Online website.
Once abstracts have been received, contributors will be asked to prepare a full-length paper for circulation prior to the conference, enabling us to discuss each of our three areas in detail at the meeting.
(2) CULTURE, VOICE AND IDENTITY: additional information
We are encouraging members of the Working Group to work together on a volume that relates to a common dialogue many of us share about the possibilities of storytelling through song in dramatised and staged contexts that are intercultural and often non-Western in content and context. The third volume will examine music theatre forms — more broadly intercultural music theatre and opera — that have developed in parallel to Western practices. Some areas of interest may include Music Theatre's capacity to grow from and respond to:
• The postcolonial condition
• A post-9/11 West, the war on terror and the global financial crisis
• The post 2010 Arab Spring and Islamic identities
• Voice and nationhood
• The pedagogies of voice in non-Western cultures
• Philosophies of the Other
• The politics of the intercultural and multiculturalism
• Indigenous cultures and identities
• Globalisation, capitalism and the arts festival
• Definitions of 'world music'
• Cosmopolitanism, community and audience
(3) NEW DIRECTIONS: additional information
Continuing to focus on performance, experience and emergence, a new discussion topic follows our meeting at IFTR 2012, to be developed in Barcelona (2013) and Warwick (2014), with possible publication potential in due course.
Whether we self-identify as interdisciplinary scholars or assign ourselves a discreet discipline area, we often operate in murky territory that slips away from the certainties that established (disciplinary) scholarship supports. Much of our understanding of the performance, experience and emergence of music theatre comes from an engagement as practitioners or audiences; this knowledge is often embodied and instinctive, qualities traditionally devalued, sometimes ignored or suppressed by the academy. While recent theories have been proposed to validate experiential and tacit knowledge(s), and while various other areas of performance share with music theatre mutual dynamics, our area nevertheless presents unique experiences borne out of its experiential richness (its interdisciplinarity). Some have found their way into scholarly discussion and as concepts now have stable and transferable currency (the grain of the voice, jouissance); other scholars have proposed new concepts whose ongoing value has yet to be confirmed (David Roesner's 'musicking'). However, there are many more dynamics that remain hidden from discourse and significance, even if their effects are fundamental in our engagement with music theatre. The challenge we have is to find language(s) and vocabulary to create a critical discourse about subjective dynamics without either discrediting our work or compromising the precision of our (inter)disciplinary perspective(s).
We invite members to contribute thoughts to this discussion, prompted by the following provocations:
• What is music theatre scholarship?
• How might dialogue be supported between music theatre scholarship and other areas of scholarship?
• What concerns does this raise in regard to the language we use, the vocabulary we develop and the knowledge of existing literature that we possess?
• To what extent does our scholarship require discipline expertise?
• To what extent does our scholarship require practical expertise?
• Would a holistic (rather than interdisciplinary) approach to music theatre lend itself to particular forms / practices: The popular? The live? The contemporary?
• Does a new holistic approach to music theatre scholarship demand new forms and modes of articulation, presentation and dissemination?
• To what extent can the dynamics of music theatre offer structural analogues for engaging with communal or collaborative expression: choral writing; ensemble expression; counterpoint; syncopation; recitative; diva moments?
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.
If you want to get information about the Group (or if you have changed your e-mail-address), please register for the FIRT Music Theatre mailing list.
The group is currently working on two publication projects, with a third 'in the wings'. The publications are edited collections deriving from discussions of the working group and comprising chapters contributed by individual members.
'The Legacy of Opera: Music Theatre as Experience and Performance', scheduled to be published by 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', scheduled to be published by 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.
Details about further activities are announced through the mailing list.
The Music Theatre working group has recently convened at the IFTR/FIRT conference in Santiago, Chile (2012) and at PSI 18 in Leeds, UK (2012). We will be meeting at the forthcoming IFTR/FIRT conference in Barcelona (July 2013) and Warwick (2014). Further details will be announced in due course.