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.

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.




Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater is an attempt to formalize the give-and-take between performance and philosophy through an inclusive, structured conference format. Similar to a classic philosophy meeting, the week-long conference is based on a claim-rebuttal structure. Significantly, the conference begins with four selected theoretical positions, each presented via performance. Each performance is followed by a panel, in which a moderated general discussion precedes plenary speakers who respond to one of the four performances. After these discussions, all delegates are given time and the opportunity to submit writing in response to the performances as well as to the plenary speakers. These texts may be position statements / academic essays / research or project proposals / leading questions, or other kinds of texts. Some of these statements will be printed in a conference-wide publication, and will serve as the basis for a final, open discussion.

Four theoretical performances provide the core of the conference. Mike Taylor (USA) will present IDEA MACHINE: Experiments in Theatre Techniques for Audience Transformation, a work reflecting on the conditions of theater itself, and focusing on instances of compression and transformation. Reality Research Center (FINLAND) will perform MYSTERIES OF LOVE, a monumental performance series in the form of an esoteric school in which repeated lessons on eros guide the pupil toward an experience of absolute beauty. Amapola Prada (PERU) will show REVOLUTION, a piece that posits methods for relating ideologic structures to the body via the artist’s own pessimism. Finally, Kikuko Tanaka (JAPAN/USA) will present POULTRY PARADISE AND ITS DISCONTENTS to investigate the constructed nature of revolt/resistance, intertwining sexuality, and artistic production. Each project is paired with a critical writer, who will have access to the development of the project, and will moderate the discussion following its performance.

The conference will take place in early September, 2013 in New York City. Moderators and plenary speakers will be announced in April 2013.


Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater was conceived and organized by Esther Neff (Panoply Performance Lab) and Yelena Gluzman (UCSD), and supported by a grant from Culture Push’s Fellowship for Utopian Practice.

To contact conference organizers, please email theatertheoryconference@gmail.com


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