CFP: Performance, Place, Possibility: Performance in Contemporary Urban Contexts

Performance, Place, Possibility: Performance in Contemporary Urban Contexts


University of Leeds, Friday 4th April 2014




Deadline for proposals: 24th January 2014



Joslin McKinney & Martin Zebracki


Dr Joslin McKinney, Associate Professor in Scenography, School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds


Dr Martin Zebracki, Lecturer/Assistant Professor in Critical Human Geography, School of Geography, University of Leeds


The School of Performance & Cultural Industries, University of Leeds (PCI) invites contributions to a one-day symposium exploring practices and potentials of performance in contemporary urban contexts, on Friday 4th April 2014. This is designed to coincide with Ludus Festival Leeds, see This is a biennial festival of performance curated by PCI in partnership with leading performance venues in the city. The aim is that the festival and symposium enrich one another.


Inaugurated in 2012, Ludus aims to engage visitors to and residents of Leeds in a range of opportunities to play, through engaging with performance presented on the city’s stages and in its streets and sites. Ludus aims to curate performance – solo and ensemble work, dance, music – addressing the experience of people from all demographics, including work by and for young people and the disabled. In 2014, the emphasis will be on specific sites, looking beyond the physical boundaries of theatre and performance venues and towards other spaces in the city – and marginal(ised) spaces in particular.


As Jen Harvie has noted, theatre and performance “bring people together in live, shared encounters and offer people opportunities performatively to influence urban life” (Harvie 2009: 7). Meanwhile, performance offers a non-representational approach to engaging with “mundane everyday practices that shape the conduct of human beings towards others and themselves in particular sites” (Thrift 1997: 142). In this symposium, we want to consider the intersections of performance and the embodied practice of urban life and, further, reflect on the potentials of and the challenges for performance which seek to engage with diverse experiences of the city.


We invite scholars, researchers, artists and activists from across disciplines to join in debate on the ways in which the relationships between performance and place impact on audiences, communities, citizens and the city. We welcome contributions that include theoretical, methodological, empirical or artistic work, or they can be a combination thereof.


Topics could include, but are not limited to, the following:


•       The performance of place and space in contemporary urban culture

•       Performance as urban intervention

•       Participatory and/or interactive performance

•       Performance and a ‘global sense of place’ (Massey 1991)

•       Embodiment, affect and the experience of place

•       Located and site-specific performance in the city

•       Urban walking as performance

•       Performance and urban social change

•       Performance, identity and urban cultures

•       Performative urban cultural practices beyond theatre and performance

•       The body as site of performativity research


Classic references:


Harvie, J. 2009 Theatre & the City, Palgrave

Massey, D. 1991 ‘A global sense of place’ Marxism Today (38) 24-29

Thrift, N. 1997 ‘The still point: resistance, embodiment and dance’ in Pile, S. and Keith, M. (eds) Geographies of Resistance, Routledge, 124-151


Deadline for proposals: 24th January 2014. Please send your proposal as a Word document to j.e.mckinney AT AND m.m.zebracki AT


You may propose either:


A 10-minute intervention: 200-word abstract, plus your name and affiliation and 50-word biography




A 20-minute paper: 350-word abstract, plus your name and affiliation and 50-word biography


Where appropriate, we encourage you to show artwork as part of your interventions and papers.


There will also be a small display area with a plasma screen where presenters can share additional material. Please let us know if you have video or digital slides you would wish to show.


Key dates:


24th January 2014: deadline for proposals; symposium registration opens

14th February 2014: organisers communicate decisions of the review panel

21st March 2014: registration deadline for participants

31st March – 6th April 2014: Ludus Festival Leeds

4th April 2014: symposium at the University of Leeds


The Ludus Festival Leeds website at will be updated through December 2013 with more information on this symposium and the Ludus programme of performances and events