TLA Plenary – Call for Papers

2010 Annual Conference of the American Society for Theatre Research-Theatre Library Association-Congress on Research in Dance

Seattle, Washington, November 18-21, 2010

Harnessing the Power of Performance:

Documentation Strategies for Theater and Dance

Throughout history, capturing performance through various media has been challenging.   Performance historians have based their work on archeological artifacts, paper records, oral history and memory, audio recordings, and film documentation of dance and theater performances.  Each method – in itself ephemeral – presents challenges due in part to limitations inherent in its physical characteristics:  images fade, paper crumbles, and memory fails.

This session will address and assess past, current, and future methodologies for harnessing the power of performance – and the extent to which these approaches and strategies support or impede research.  We invite papers addressing the many forms of documentation – from depictions of Athenian performances on vases to computer-generated dance notation/animation.

Papers might consider:

  • How do documentation strategies negotiate, undermine, or emphasize power?
  • How do developments and changes in technology impact performance studies?
  • How do cultural politics and the power of societal perceptions of theater and dance affect performance documentation?
  • How do documentation strategies or models strengthen or undermine our understanding and appreciation of performance?
  • How have theater and dance practitioners, librarians and scholars collaborated to develop effective documentation strategies?
  • What are the limitations and drawbacks of video and film documentation of performance?
  • How will the proliferation of born-digital objects impact documentation of theater and dance?
  • Do artists have the ethical right to resolve that their work may perish with them?

Please submit one-page Proposal as e-mail attachment by February 15, 2010 to:

Susan Brady, Chair, TLA Plenary Program Committee

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University


The Plaza, San Juan, Puerto Rico. no. 54082.

The Plaza, San Juan, Puerto Rico. no. 54082.

ASTR-TLA Annual Conference/TLA Call for Papers

American Society for Theatre Research
November 11-15, 2009

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Theatre, Performance, and DestiNation

Theatre Library Association Plenary
Call for Papers

“Playing” the Pilgrim:  Scholars, Collections, and Archival DestiNations

Performing arts archives and special collections are a destination for artifacts and ephemera – as well as for the artists and scholars who experience them.  The research process is a journey undertaken for diverse purposes and outcomes.  This panel poses an investigation of the kind of “play” that occurs between archive and destination, research and journey, and the scholar-pilgrim-voyeur.

Proposals may consider the following questions:

•       How does a performance undertake the journey from ephemeral cultural expression to tangible archival evidence?  How do archives and special collections serve as destinations for performances?

•       What is involved when a performing arts archive or collection travels from its place of origin to a new repository, or across repositories in different geopolitical regions?  What does it mean for a collection to come “home?”

•       What challenges are presented to archives and special collections when theatre itself “travels” (as when it tours), becoming, in effect, a moveable destination?

•       How does research travel to archives and special collections negotiate the tension between pilgrimage and voyeuristic consumption?  In what ways does research travel become performative?

•       How do libraries and archives participate as sites of privileged viewing and local experience?  How do special collections engage issues of privacy or stage themselves to an audience?

•       Are theatre archives and special collections themselves an “island?”  How do they reflect or reinvent “island culture?”  Are they tied to the mainland of performance practices or archival methodologies?  How do theatre archives and performing arts collections “travel” across these boundaries?

Please submit one-page Proposal by February 1, 2009 to:

Colleen Reilly

Chair, TLA Plenary

Arts Library, Yale University

Image credit: Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Image ID 1037089

While it would be nice to say that this blog went silent again because we were all too occupied with Archives Months events, I cannot tell a lie.  Look for the long deferred posts about Performing Arts Roundtable programs at SAA Annual 2008 in the coming days.  In the meantime:

Going through the mail, one item of interest recently received is the latest volume in the Theatre Library Association‘s occasional Performing Arts Resources series.  Entitled Performance Reclamation: Research, Discovery, and Interpretation, this book (well, it’s a serial really) should be of special interest to performing arts archivists everywhere.  It provides a transcript of the complete program of TLA’s 2007 symposium of the same name.  The main purpose of that symposium had been to examine the “critical role in recreating performance and supporting the construction of production histories” played by performing arts archives and libraries.  Participants included representatives from City Center Encores!, Jacob’s Pillow, and the Mint Theater.  Rounding out the contents are papers from the 2005 TLA Plenary for the American Society for Theatre Research by Jonathan Bank, Claudia Wilsch Case, and Sarah Ziebell.

Which reminds me — did I renew my membership?

The “draft programme” for this year’s SIBMAS conference (unfortunately timed for those of us attending SAA) is now available. It sounds like a very impressive lineup and I know that many of us wish we could join them in Glasgow. But for now, we’ll just wish our friends good luck and eagerly anticipate the next SIBMAS conference to be held in a North American city (a joint venture with the Theatre Library Association). It’s now scheduled for 2012, so that should give you all plenty of time to clear your calendars.

Image credit: J.M. Barrie, from an original sketch in color by Ernest Haskell. NYPL Digital Image Gallery ID #1106781