Performing the World

Summary Info Festival StoryFestival EventsOther SourcesPractical Info Not Available

Country and Region United StatesNew York
Type of Festival Dance, Drama, Music
Location of Festival New York, New York, USA
Festival Contact Information

Madelyn Chapman, Conference Producer
East Side Institute
920 Broadway, 14th Floor
New York, NY 10010 USA
Phone: +01 212-941-0511
Fax: +01 212-941-8340

Festival Description

The Performing the World conference is held in New York City. Performing the World is a three-day “performance of conversation” with people from all over the world — scholars and researchers; teachers, therapists, social workers and community organizers; doctors and other health workers; theatre and other performance artists; union activists and business leaders; economists and political activists — on the subject of performance and the transformation of the individual, the community, and the world.

With this theme, we ask performance activists and scholars to reflect on and address the political aspects of their performance work; at the same time, we invite social change activists to reflect on and address the performance aspects of their political activities. We are looking for proposals —for panels, workshops, performances, demonstrations, installations, etc. — that address this overarching question.

Festival Dates October 4 - 7, 2012
Festival Links

Festival Story:

Performing the World (PTW) was born in a conversation between East Side Institute co-founder, the late Fred Newman, and me at the end of the summer of 2000. We had already “discovered” perfor­mance, and its essential role in human development and learning was key to the therapeutic, educational and community-organizing work of the East Side Institute and its broader community. At the same time, Newman and I were also hav ing con ver sa tions with Ken and Mary Ger gen, lead ing social-constructionist psychologists who themselves were turning toward performance, particularly by experi­menting with new performatory modes of presenting research and scholarship. During the 1990s at annual meetings of the American Psychological Association, we and the Gergens did some joint perfor­matory symposia and Newman’s original “psychology plays” were performed — all to great enthusiasm. We were encouraged, and wanted to do something bigger and of our own structure.

My international travels had introduced me to many different perfor­matory practices initiated at both the grassroots and from within the universities. I met dozens of people and heard of hundreds more who were using performance to help people and commu nities grow and create positive social change. We decided to reach out to those doing this work/play — from community organizers to business peo­ple, from artists to social workers, from therapists to teachers.

The first Performing the World conference was held in October 2001, just a few weeks after 9/11. Hundreds from all over the world showed up at the beautiful oceanside village of Montauk, 120 miles from New York City, as if this kind of gathering was what they and their communities needed at such a moment.

There have been five PTWs since then. The last two — in 2008 and 2010 — were held in New York City, bringing the conference to one of the most vibrant and diverse cultural centers of the world and partnering with the All Stars Project as co-sponsor. PTW has been greatly enriched by having the All Stars’ performing arts and devel­opment center on 42nd Street near Times Square as the conference’s home base and by the inclusion of hundreds of young people and adults who participate in its programs. Additionally, both the Institute and the All Stars reach out to friends across New York City’s many communities to provide housing for PTW participants and broaden the “performance space.” I am inspired by the growth of the global perfor mance movement and the role that PTW is playing in it, as not only a conference/performance festival but also a unique com­munity event bringing people together to perform a new world.
—— Lois Holzman, director of the East Side Institute


Festival Events:

Programming proposals 2012 — Can performance save the world?:
  • We envision Performing the World 2012 as a marathon “performance of conversation” with people from all over the world — scholars and researchers; educators, therapists, social workers, youth workers; doctors and other health workers; theatre, applied theatre and other performance artists; social activists and community organizers; busi­ness leaders and philanthropists; film, video and media creatives; and others. Proposals are due March 1, 2012.
    • Does per for mance con tribute to peo ple seeing/being in the world in new ways?
    • Can we perform our way to ending poverty?
    • Performance and community building and sustain ability
    • The interface of theatre performance and performance in daily life
    • Performance and learning
    • Performance and youth development, in school and out
    • Performance and the elderly
    • Performance, play and therapeutics
    • The relationship of performance to physical and emotional healing
    • Health and the performance of medicine (East and West)
    • New model of community health and human rights
    • What is creative conversation and how can it take place in
      polarized (and violent) environments?
    • The role of theatre and performance in war and conflict zones
    • What is play and its role in human creativity and development?
    • The social context of creativity
    • When “reasoning” and “argument” fail, what then?
    • Performance and the creation of history
    • Does knowing get in the way of performing?
    • The role of cognition/reflection in performance
    • The performance of language and the language of performance
    • Performance and organizational culture
    • The role of performance in politics and revolution
    • Does it take pretending to make change real?


Other Sources:

Podcast interviews:
  • Performing the World 2007, by Joseph Spirito


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