Seeking Circles for ‘rupture, ambiguity and dissensus’: Exploring Ethics of Practice in Applied Theatre

Seeking Circles for ‘rupture, ambiguity and dissensus’: Exploring Ethics of Practice in Applied Theatre”
Organizers: Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta and Monica Prendergast
Contact e-mail: Monica Prendergast (

Call for Papers
Deadline: 4 January, 2019

We invite potential participants to submit paper proposal abstracts of 250 words to be part of a curated panel showcasing applied theatre research in Canada. We are interested in descriptions of practice that focus on opening up spaces for various community groups to enter into larger social, cultural, environmental and/or political conversations. We will consider papers that address one or more of the following questions, based on the 2019 conference theme:

  • How are circles of conversation made evident in applied theatre, in both theory and practice? What practical, pedagogical and theoretical tools, aesthetic preferences, material conditions, and/or political landscapes assist or suppress engagement in these conversations?
  • How does applied theatre invite, sustain, extend or foreclose, circles of conversation?
  • Who has been included in such conversations and who has been left out? Why, and with what effects?

We are particularly interested in papers that trouble and complicate the ethics of practice in applied theatre. Drawing on Claire Bishop’s important critical perspectives on socially engaged art (in her book Artificial Hells [2012]), we ask: How we can avoid the risk of becoming “subject to manipulation—and eventually instrumentalization—[as] a harmless branch of the welfare state…the kindly folk who can be relied upon to mop up wherever the government wishes to absolve itself of responsibility”? (Bishop, 2012b, p. 38). Are we the “kindly folk” or are we instead committed to a more radical praxis that may involve asking:

  • Where are the opportunities and spaces for applied theatre to express and enact ideas that may be idiosyncratic, controversial, uneasy, discomforting, frustrating, fearful, contradictory, exhilarating or absurd? (Bishop, 2012, p. 26)
  • What would applied theatre look and feel like if it had the qualities of rupture, ambiguity and dissensus rather than amelioration, over-solicitousness and consensus? (Bishop, 2012, pp. 26-29)

Please send abstracts by 4 January, 2019 to Dr. Monica Prendergast, University of Victoria, at Please put “CATR Applied Theatre panel” in the subject line of your email.

Reference: Bishop, C. (2012). Artificial hells: Participatory art and the politics of spectatorship. London: Verso.

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