Reaching | Outreaching

Loughborough University London, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

9 June 2018

The language of ‘outreach’ shapes conversation on university and artistic life, from ‘strategic visions’ to arts council applications. But what does it mean to reach out? What is the discourse on outreach as a gesture – an act and effect?

In On Being Included, Sarah Ahmed argues that institutional commitments to diversity may be considered “non-performatives”: “they do not bring into effect that which they name” (2012, 119). Institutions run diversity workshops and committees, outreach programmes and ‘participatory’ or ‘inclusive’ agendas, but where does the gesture stop, and where does it begin? How may we understand the choreography and the dramaturgy of institutional outreaching? How can we begin to detourthis language so as to rethink the role of the university – and of artistic practice – in public life today? Does the university have a role to play in public life, and what might that be? Does this equate with ‘outreach’? What is the relationship between artistic practice and what may be termed ‘creative research’?

In this day-long workshop, situated at the Olympic site of the University of Loughborough – a location like many in the ‘expanded university’ today concerned with reaching out to the ‘local community’ – the TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group aims to think together about choreo-geography, gesture, site, institutional politics, affect and the never-ending labour of reaching: we will ask, what does it mean to imagine a cultural and intellectual sphere from which reaching takes place, but yet which, it seems, is never imagined to be reached towards? What colonial or imperial legacy suggests that intellectual life has for its role to bring knowledge out towards others? What might we learn from being touched in our work by those whose knowledges may not be institutionally recognised? And finally, what might be involved in thinking cultures of proximity, displacement, and spostamento – or centripetal and centrifugal displacement, reciprocal displacement, displacement that comes back to haunt one? How are we implicated in cultivating intellectual and creative spaces and ties that fail again and again to bind, to shift, or perhaps at this stage in the public life of universities – entering full throttle into a wholesale culture of privatization – to query the form of these structures of ‘outreach’ for those whose lives we are meant, in the final analysis, to ‘transform’? If public impact is meant to ‘change’ those our work comes into contact with, how do we analyse and eventually reclaim the dance, the theatre – the dramaturgy – of this contact and this encounter?

The event aims to engage participants in roundtables and curated discussions at the intersection of philosophy and practice. We are calling for reflections and provocations centred (or decentred) on the following themes in relation with theatre and performance:

  • Practices of reaching, discourses of outreach
  • Dissociation, displacement and decentring
  • Dramaturgies and choreographies of distance and proximity
  • Aporetic and porous spaces of co-habitation
  • Institutional choreopolitics
  • Decreation and deproduction; alternative models of capitalism, work and theatricality
  • Gesture, ‘community’ and constitutive alterity
  • Discourses and practices of political and institutional ‘change’
  • Cultures and pedagogies of the sited university
  • Performative (or ‘non-performative’) languages of business, enterprise, innovation and affiliation

We invite researchers, practitioners and performance curators to submit expressions of interest in the form of proposals for position papers, curated discussions, seminars/reading groups, workshops or performative interventions.

Postgraduate students, unaffiliated/casualised academics and independent practitioners are especially encouraged to apply, and four travel bursaries of £80 each will be made available (please indicate if you are eligible on your application).

Lunch and refreshments are included.

Please send 250-word proposals and a short bio to Fred Dalmasso (F.T.J.Dalmasso@lboro.ac.uk), Kélina Gotman (kelina.gotman@kcl.ac.uk) and Daniela Perazzo Domm (D.Perazzodomm@kingston.ac.uk) by 20 April 2018. Participant will be notified by 4 May 2018.

The cost of this workshop is £10 (free for postgraduate students, unaffiliated/casualised academics). Participants who are not current members of the Theatre and Performance Research Association will also be required to pay a discounted membership fee of £10.

Share