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‘This and that and that’ – The multiple roles of the theatre artist – the double meaning of performative criticism

These days, theatre is constantly changing. Between the online and the offline, yet more significantly between different cultural, social, and anthropological realities, which it is bound to reflect and integrate. Such constant dynamics have generated not only a series of variations in terms of form and content, but a new profile of the theatre artist. There are still actors, directors, scenographers, but more and more there are actors who are also directors, performance artists who introduce themselves as activists, director-playwrights who are their own producers, etc. A new way of understanding theatre has enabled them to find novel creative strategies to express themselves on stage and in the world, to turn the world into their stage. These trends challenge all the prerequisites of the theatrical profession, once defined and taught through rather separate skills, crafts and knowledge.

This ongoing process reconnects the art of representation with its own past, as Shakespeare, Moliere and many others were never exclusively playwrights. It also connects it with other creative fields, such as performance art, through a sense of first-person theatricality. It brings it closer to the energies of the street, to all the transformations in a society of protest. The artist seems to no longer be ‘this’ or ‘that’, but ‘this and that’ or perhaps “this and that and that” at the same time and with the same effectiveness.

So, what about theatre critics? Do they merely recompose their patterns of viewing and reviewing, or do they also seek to reinvent themselves and their profession? A new generation of spectators have taken to discussing the universe of performance, which they don’t necessarily see as the prerogative of a creative establishment. They find – and talk about – theatricality online, in their daily lives, everywhere. Thus, a completely new mode of criticism has emerged, far from the constraints of newspaper articles or academic publications. It means taking part, being involved in cultural events, hosting dialogues and panel sessions with artists, asking questions. This double meaning of criticism is emblematic for a new era in theatre and culture.

You are invited to an open online international conference about all these different dimensions of performing arts and performative criticism. Together, artists and critics, we will try to understand the role and the roles we play in the continuously changing, global public sphere of our world. Now more than ever we need this dialogue.

Octavian Saiu

Organisers: Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Sibiu University, IATC Hong Kong, and Critical Stages / Scènes Critiques in partnership with ITI – UNESCO, The Grotowski Institute, IATC Romania (Theatre Studies), ‘New Drama’ Festival, The Theatre Institute Bratislava, The Centre for Theatre Studies – University of Lisbon, ‘Between.Pomiedzy’ Festival

Conference Committee: Constantin Chiriac (Sibiu International Theatre Festival) – Committee President, Savas Patsalidis (Aristotle University, Thessaloniki), Mariko Anazawa (Meiji Gakuin University), Bernice Chan (IATC Hong Kong), Rui Pina Coelho (University of Lisbon), Tomasz Wiśniewski (University of Gdansk), Jason Hale (Bilkent University)

Keynote Speakers: Alexandra Badea, Nassim Soleimanpour, and Jaroslaw Fret

Conference Chair: Octavian Saiu

Session Chairs: Kalina Stefanova (National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts, Bulgaria), Savas Patsalidis, Bernice Chan

Dates: 27 – 28 January

Online platforms: IATC HK [Digital Host], FITS, ULSB, CS/SC, ITI In order to present a paper and/or participate in one of the open discussions
(in English), please send your proposal to all of the following addresses before January 20: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]