Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater
This durational conference is foremost a collaborative performance project between the conference organizers and conference participants. The conference will begin with four performances/propositions, and will proceed in an outward dialogic spiral, with events structured to allow participants to discuss and respond to these initial presentations.
The initial four performances will be chosen from proposals submitted via an open call. Over the course of three months, organizers provide time, space, and resources to four theorizing performance-makers. Performance-makers/theorists need not have any theater or formal artistic background, but must propose to use the form of performance to enact a theoretical position or question. The process of performance-makers/theorists is likely to resemble the following:
1.) Theorist approaches a question, hypothesis, or problem/paradox
2.) Theorist researches the question, tests the hypothesis, or re-creates/makes evident the problem/paradox
3.) Theorist answers the question, proves or disproves the hypothesis, or formalizes the problem/paradox AS A PERFORMANCE.
Each project will be paired with a critical writer (an arts writer, philosopher, cultural critic, etc), who will observe the process of creating the presentation and be in dialogue with the theorist, becoming the first formal respondent to that work. This first stage of production will culminate in a conference weekend in New York City, during which conference participants will gather and the four projects will be performed. In Stage 2, panel discussions lead by the four critical writers will follow each performance, and conference participants will be invited to consider and discuss the presentations via various political, theoretical, and analytical contexts of their choosing. All participants in this public weekend conference will also be invited to submit written responses to be published in a hard-copy Gazette and online; these written documents constitute the third stage of the project. Stage 4 will consist of a final day-long public discussion that will consider the written responses and previous discussions. The entire process will be documented and excerpts made available via online or print publishing after the event.
Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater began with the simple conception of “theater” as a public site for insight (in Greek, theater means ‘seeing place’), tied intrinsically to theory or ‘ways of seeing.’ This conference is based on the premise that performance is not just an artistic medium, it is also a vast and complex conceptual/ philosophic structure (multiplicitous, logarithmic, exponential, quantum). We posit performance as an “uncanny social science,” a way of researching human social experience by being it, by encompassing, constructing, simultaneously causing and being caused-by business, community and kinship conceptions, systems of definition like gender and race, political and intuitional constructs, and so on. There is no praxical division between academic fields of inquiry. Modes must be researched and developed by everyone, across artistic mediums, across social and “hard” sciences, across daily living patterns, across conversations and other communications.
The project seeks both to recognize, theorize, and authorize performance-making as a constructive theorizing and envisioning act that may have the agency to escape autonomous artistic spheres and participate in co-construction of public discourse and, as a performance project itself, to invent, theorize, test, bend, expand, and corrupt the conference’s own overarching theory and mode of production.
Open Call out April 15, 2012
Proposals due August 1, 2012
Theorists and Writers notified October 1, 2012
March-June, 2013 Fundraiser and open rehearsals
July 12, 13, 14, Public Conference is held in New York City
July 30, Gazette released
Mid-August, TBD, 2013, final critical panel in New York City
This process and the emergent conference will be organized in 5 stages.
Stage One: Open call for theoretical performance proposals. All proposals due AUGUST 1, 2012
Successful applicants will be notified by October 1, 2012. In some cases, conference organizers might ask for revisions to develop proposals for possible inclusion.
Stage Two: The chosen proposals are developed.
During the development, we provide at least 10 hours of rehearsal space, as well as access to Materials for the Arts, web-hosting, and assistance with publicity and marketing. Contracts will be tailored to each project.
At least one open rehearsal will allow theorists to share their process with each other and the public.
Theorists will also participate in interviews and post research online. Each project will be assigned a critical writer (who may be an arts writer, performance theorist, art historian, or other cultural critic whose primary mode of response is through writing), who will in later stages will be asked to provide a critical perspective on that work and will lead the post-performance discussion.
Stage Three: A weekend-long conference, during which all works are performed.
Each performance will be followed by an open discussion, each one moderated by the critical collaborator paired with that project in Stage 2.
Stage Four: All conference participants are invited to respond to any one of the performances (including their own) in writing, either with a critical response, or with a theoretical/performative response.
A number of these responses will be published in a hard-copy Gazette form and made available to participants. Other responses will be available online.
Stage Five: A final panel discussion will be held to discuss the works presented, documentation, and the critical responses the exponential theories generated.
This panel discussion will take into account viewpoints theorized in the published written responses. The panel will be comprised of conference participants, both the featured theorists and others, who, after Stages One – Four, express a strong interest in discussing the preceding presentations.
Applicants need not be artists or performers, nor have experience with creating performance, but may also be historians, philosophers, cultural critics, activists, scientists, or thinkers in any discipline. Similarly, theories need not be specifically theories of performance, but can be theoretical positions dealing with any aspect of time, space, causality, communication, morality, mind, body, society, being, aesthetics, politics, arts, sciences, knowledge or other major theoretical concerns that can be activated in the situation of performance. Successful applicants will propose the active mode, form, or medium of their theory, instead of simply describing their theory in a theatrical style. It is expected that given conditions of performance (not limited to venue, audience, authorship, shared temporality, etc.) will be utilized or subverted in order to instantiate a theoretical position.
Prospective theorists/performance-makers should request the materials and resources they need to develop and perform their project, and be as specific as possible in describing their intended project. Applicants must be available during the times specified in the timeline.
Four proposals will be chosen by a small interdisciplinary panel of jurors based on cohesion of vision and feasibility.
To apply, please follow the guidelines below. The deadline is August 1, 2012.
1. On the top of the first page, please include the following information: Name, Address, E-mail, Phone number, Website (if applicable)
2. Please send a proposal (less than 2 pages) for a theoretical performance. Please be as specific as possible. Proposal guidelines are purposefully vague in order to allow for a multiplicity of approaches.
3. In a separate paragraph, please attempt to foresee technical requirements, spatial/architectural needs, and other anticipated necessary materials for your proposed project.
Please email your proposal as an attachment, along with a CV, resume, or narrative biography (up to 500 words).
Both individuals and groups are welcome to apply. Send your application to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than August 1, 2012.
The form of this conference is unusual, and it seeks to engage an interdisciplinary community of thinkers. Therefore, you may have questions about one or more aspects of the conference or the call for proposals. Please do not hesitate to e-mail us with your questions, requests for clarification, or comments.