PROPOSAL DEADLINE: 1st OCTOBER 2011 (see below for details)

Issue Editors: Stephen Bottoms, Aaron Franks, Paula Kramer

How do we live on earth?

Over the last several years, a broad and growing range of theatre events and performance processes have sought to re-imagine – in varying ways – the question of our relationship, as humans, with the non-human environment. These range from site-specific engagements with particular localities to mainstage plays about climate change, from activist protest inter-ventions to experiments with sustainable staging, from environmental dance practices to performative philosophising around concepts of process and relationality. These develop-ments (and more) have been complemented by a performative turn in geographical thinking, which has brought renewed attention to the material body and its lived experience of space and place. Similarly, where the social and natural sciences meet, a growing self-reflexivity about ‘the performance of science’ has become evident.

But in what ways, and to what extent, do these various practices and concerns intersect? Is it possible to trace the outlines of a growing ecological consciousness and connectivity in performance studies and its related contexts? Or are we, instead, looking at a disparate range of activities and discourses that remain largely isolated from each other? Are these various developments testament merely to a vague sense of concern about ‘the environment’, as a threatened backdrop to our human drama? Or are we developing a potentially more progressive sense of being-in and of the natural world? What might be our toeholds and launch pads – metaphorical and earthly beginning points – for what cultural geographer David Crouch calls simply ‘holding on and going further’?

“[We need] to bridge the great wellsprings of human understanding – including the natural and social sciences, philosophy, religion and the creative arts – to ‘re-imagine’ how we live on earth.” – Matthew Nisbet et al, “4 Cultures: New Synergies for Engaging Society on Climate Change (2010)

On Ecology will begin a mapping – or, if you prefer, a rhizomatic entangling – of these various questions and strands of praxis. The objective will be to cherish the diversity of different approaches while also apprehending their relatedness – to seek integration without capture; holism without monism. We are therefore seeking proposals that respond to, but are not limited by, the terms of this call. Indicative themes include:

• In what ways are experimental engagements between (for example) form and content, dramaturgy and site, performer and spectator, serving to develop environmentally attuned performance modes?

• What are the sites, locations or ‘habitats’ of ecological performance, and how are they being moved through, lived in, materialised, historicised? To what extent can ongoing processes of environmental change be comprehended, and engaged with, through performative framing and intervention?

• What constitutes ‘best practice’ in terms of theatre / dance / performance that seeks to reduce its environmental footprint and render itself sustainable? And to what extent should sustainability be conceived not only in terms of pragmatic, material solutions, but in terms of performative critique of our unsustainable addictions to capitalism and consumerism?

• What role does the notion of agency play in this field of acting with, and being acted-upon by, the non-human environment? How might concepts such as Bateson’s ‘ecology of mind’ or the ‘flat ontology’ of Deleuze or DeLanda manifest themselves in embodied performance experiences – for performers, witnesses, participants, and perhaps other in/organic actors?

• An increasing and uneasy awareness of collective human endangerment of our shared eco-system has prompted cultural responses ranging from scepticism to despair. Critical thinking, wary of propaganda from either direction, may risk becoming a prolonged ‘deliberation on mourning’ (Rancière, 2004:9). But might our uncertainties and ambivalences also provide the raw materials we need to reimagine the future – using the lived, sited, awkwardly material facts of performance as our medium?

• Some geologists have dubbed the current era the ‘Anthropocene’ – a label that could be read either as scientific hubris or as an appropriate reflection on human impacts within the in/organic world. To what extent can – or should – performance question its familiar status as an inherently ‘anthropo-scenic’, human-centred medium?

On Ecology extends, in part, from the deliberations of the UK-based research network project ‘Reflecting on Environmental Change through Site-Based Performance’ (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2010-11). See for details. The network engaged with a wide range of practitioners including PLATFORM London, NVA, Dead Good Guides, Fevered Sleep, Julie Laffin, Dee Heddon, Baz Kershaw, Mike Pearson, Phil Smith, and others. It is hoped that this edition of Performance Research will extend the nationally-focused scope of the network, to embrace a truly global, cross-cultural range of perspectives and practices, both ‘major’ and ‘minor’.

The format of Performance Research allows for artists’ pages and other visual representations alongside articles, interviews, documents or reviews. Proposals are invited from all disciplinary viewpoints, and from artists and writers, theorists and fieldworkers.

SCHEDULE • Proposals: 1st October 2011 • First drafts: 4th January 2012 • Publication date: August 2012

ALL proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to:

Becci Curtis:

Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the issue editors: Stephen Bottoms: Aaron Franks: Paula Kramer:


Proposals will be accepted by e-mail (MS-Word or RTF). Proposals should not exceed one A4 side. Please DO NOT send images electronically without prior agreement.

Please note that submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere. By submitting a manuscript, the author(s) agree that the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the article have been given to Performance Research.

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