An International Conference
30 May – 2 June 2014
In 2014, the international forum »Performing Tangier« will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. The conference aims at reframing the discussion on new dramaturgies. It is a continuation of their previous debates, as well as an attempt to synthesize their overall deliberations over a decade.
Dramaturgy is an inclusive word that refers to the ›composition of a play‹, or its internal structure. However, the processes of analysis often called ›dramaturgical analysis are deeply rooted in the practice of dramaturgy. Ever since Hamburgische Dramaturgie by the German playwright and critic Gotthold Ephraim Lessing the term dramaturgy has been broadly formalized in theatre circles. For Lessing, dramaturgy was framed according to a compositional logic based upon the supremacy of the verbal text. It was conceived of as »the technique (or poetics) of dramatic art, which seeks to establish principles of play construction« (Pavis 1998, 24). Contemporary theorists, on the other hand, seem to emphasize the non-literary composites of dramaturgy.
›Dramaturgy‹ could also be applicable to current performance structures that do not start from pre-existing play-texts; that develop as verbal texts or non-verbal forms, or verbal mixed with intermedial or choreographic structures from improvisational approaches. Since the 1960s, performances »have repeatedly disconnected individual theatrical tools from their larger contexts« (Erika Fischer-Lichte 2008, 140). The re-appearance of what Fischer-Lichte calls ›emergent phenomena‹ further undermines the production of meaning through theatrical representation. Thus, alternative dramaturgies might also suggest new ways of interrogating presence and negotiating our roles as spectators and critics; they tend to disintegrate neo-classical notions of character-dramaturgy and unity by disrupting their underlying manichaeism within performance.
Meanwhile, the advent of new media has profoundly changed dramaturgical practice in the last decades. Today, many theatrical performances are characterized by visual dramaturgy and digital workflows which can hardly be subordinated to the text. The process of remediation throws the audience into the abyss of la mise en abym, or what J. D. Bolter & R. Grusin describe as the »representation of one medium in another;« hierarchies and differences between live presence and recorded versions, spatial and temporal coordinates, original and the current critical emphasis on ›Intermediality‹ in contemporary theatre investigates theatre’s performative privileging of simulacra. Such phenomenon has become a generalized feature of the so called postmodern epoch of writing -as well as the postcolonial- since our Global Village now is not only a hyper space of ›mobile objects‹ but also one of ›reflexive subjects‹. The degree of the ability to reflect upon the social conditions of existence is also linked to the process of decolonization in the case of developing countries like most Arobo-Islamic ones. Many recent Arabo-Islamic performances are exercises in what D. E. George calls »restless semiosis« in which meaning emerges from interdependent relations and not by ascription to some objective referent. The tendency to privilege the turbulent reflection of liminal experience, where we are invited to become co-artists rather than passive consumers, becomes so apparent in the theatres and performances of Jaàfer Guesmi from Tunisia, Asmaa Houri and Youssef Rayhani from Morocco, Lina Saneh and Rabie Mroue from Lebanon, the renowned Al-Hanager and independent theatre movement of Egypt, the Lebanese-Canadian Wajdi Mouawad … (To state just a few from a long list that is growing every day).
The conference also seeks new discourses to explore the complex interrelationship within and across the boundaries of contemporary Arabo-Islamic theatre forms, and assumes the quality of personal quests and participation in the public contemplation of Arabo-Islamic changing identities. It is a call for more critical attention to an observable alternative dramaturgy that has become so visible also in Arabo-Islamic contexts. Inspired from previous discussions the conference proposes a double-edged dialogue, which is artist-driven and research-oriented. The moment of creation and the myriad locations where Arabo-Islamic theatre today is being made in postcolonial and postmodern ones are significant instances in a conference that seeks to de-freeze, or rather re-discover artistic experiences that persist on reassessing fluctuating boundaries between tradition and modernity.
Scholars from around the world are invited to join the debate and offer elements of reflection on the various problematics related to the following proposed panels:
The organising committee welcomes abstracts strictly on the above issues.
A 250-Word abstract, along with a one paragraph curriculum vitae, should be submitted electronically (preferably in Word or Rich Text format) by 31 January 2014 to email@example.com
Acceptance, however, unfortunately does not include any financial support – participants are responsible for their own funding (i.e. securing grants, etc.) to pay for travel and lodging expenses. Selected conference papers will be published in a special volume upon the approval of the scientific committee. Submitters of accepted proposals will be notified within two weeks of the above deadline and all decisions of the scientific committee are final.
The conference theme was chosen with the expectation that it would be sharp enough to elicit diverse intellectual contributions from distinguished experts and colleagues from many parts of the world and in many areas of research. Besides academic panel sessions, the conference program will be nourished by a rich artistic public agenda with workshops, exhibitions, book launch, and diverse performances and artistic interventions relevant to ›alternative dramaturgies‹. Keynote speakers are Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Erika Fischer-Lichte, Prof. Patrice Pavis, and Dr. Christel Weiler.
New Scholars’ Panel: The conference is also a home for graduate students and new scholars from different parts of the world. The establishment of an emerging Scholars’ panel invites new voices to join the debate (provided that their contributions must be relevant to the theme of this year). Up to FIVE participants will be selected for this panel, and each panelist will have ten to fifteen minutes to deliver her/his paper. Graduate students whose papers are accepted will receive free conference registration, free admission to conference luncheon, and a one-year membership in ICPS. Who is eligible? Scholars who meet the definition of ‘new scholars’ are postgraduate students writing up their PhD dissertation or post-doctoral researchers whose PhDs have been completed less than three years.
For further information on the conference, registration process and fee, please contact Prof. Khalid Amine.