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Staging Atmospheres – Theatre and the Atmospheric Turn

8th December 2017 - 9th December 2017


Staging Atmospheres – Theatre and the Atmospheric Turn is a two-day conference and workshop, Friday 8th and Saturday 9th December 2017, generously sponsored by the International Ambiances Network.

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Tonino Griffero (Universita di Roma “Tor Vergata”)

Carl Lavery (University of Glasgow)

Conference organisers, Martin Welton and Penelope Woods, are keen to encourage dialogue amongst artists and academics across a range of disciplines beyond theatre and performance studies and internationally.
We invite all participants to play with ideas as well as presenting them. Participation will be strictly capped at forty participants. Not all participants will present papers, but expressions of interest must be submitted to secure a place. A catalogue of abstracts and position papers will be published to accompany the event as an indication of the state of the field.
The conference fee is £25 – with provision for postgraduate bursaries on application. The conference fee includes a ticket to a major London theatre event on the evening of Friday 8th December. This will inform discussion in the workshop on Saturday 9th December.
The proceedings of the first day will see a series of papers that lay out emerging themes and lines of enquiry that we will workshop together in dialogue and experiments in theatrical practice on the second day. The convenors welcome the submission of abstracts for papers (300 words max), but also seek the participation of a range of scholars and artists in discussions and events. There is some provision for translating non-English papers.
Themes and lines of enquiry include but are not limited to: lighting, sound, acoustics, gesture, audience and spectatorship, theatre and auditorium design, access, circulation, air and the aerological, ventilation, breath, smell and odour, temperature, aura, craft, the actor-audience relationship, history, reconstruction, sociality, antagonism, the relational, the institutional, the non-human, the non-atmospheric, the open-air, weather, the digital, social media and atmosphere, failure, the accidental.
As both material and metaphor ‘atmosphere’ describes an elusive yet tangible substance in which cultural, bodily and environmental concerns coincide. The biopolitical fact of being always and already in an atmosphere makes conceptual purchase difficult but all the more pressing. As part of a wider research project this conference – Staging Atmospheres – responds to the emergence of atmosphere as a topic of interest across a range of disciplines, languages, histories, and cultures.

Theatre has presented itself as both concrete site and heuristic paradigm of the social, material and political elements of atmosphere.

  • What does the practice and study of theatre have to learn from the atmospheric turn taking place across a range of other disciplines?
  • Why does the theatre present itself as such an acute example of what Jean-Paul Thibaud has termed the ‘affective tonality’ of aesthetic experience?
  • In return, what might greater insight into the production and reception of theatre’s atmospheric conditions lend to enquiries in other disciplines that draw upon it analogically and/or in exemplary terms?



8th December 2017
9th December 2017
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Queen Mary University of London
327 Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
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