Theatre and Philosophy LICA Postgraduate Event

Date:20-21 June 2011

A Two Day Event for Postgraduates with Prof Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University) and Dr Laura Cull (Northumbria University)

20th - 21st June 2011

This two day event at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts is dedicated to the encounter and dialogue between theatre/performance and philosophy. The interactions - and at times tensions and polemics - between these practices and modes of thinking have a long and complex history (beginning with Plato, Aristotle and Socrates and continuing with contemporary philosophers such as Lyotard, Derrida, Deleuze and Ranciere). And 'the wide range of possibilities for the mobility of and even oscillation between the discursive practices of philosophy and theatre/performance - in both directions - reveals an interesting border landscape, a liminal discursive space situated somewhere "between" the discursive practices of philosophy and thespians" (Rokem, Philosphers and Thespians, 2010).

During our workshop discussions we want to examine not just how philosophy can be 'applied' to theatre and performance practices and broaden our understanding of these practices. We also want to ask how we can genuinely construe performance as that which philosophizes in its own way. We aim to critically re-examine 'the philosophical foundations of theatre and performance, of the forms of knowledge about ourselves and the world we live in which these cultural practices enhance and develop, of their ethical consequences and the epistemological assumptions they are based on'. How do we 'think about performance' and how do we 'perform thinking'? (Rokem, editorial to Theatre Research International, 2009).

This workshop event will appeal to any PhD students broadly working with philosophical approaches to the study of performance; any Philosophy postgraduates interested in the intersection between philosophy and the arts/performance; any MA students considering doctoral study; and any postgraduates engaged in practice as research who are interested in theatre as embodied philosophy or the philosophical implications of performance.

Freddie Rokem is the Emanuel Herzikowitz Professor for 19th and 20th Century Art and teaches in the Department of Theatre Studies at Tel Aviv University, where he served as the Dean of the Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts (2002-2006). He is also a permanent guest Professor at Helsinki University, Finland and has been a visiting Professor at Stanford University, the Free University in Berlin, the University of Munich, the University of Stockholm and UC Berkeley. He was the editor of Theatre Research International (2006-2009).

Rokem's book Performing History: Theatrical Representations of the Past in Contemporary Theatre, (University of Iowa Press, 2000; published in Polish 2010) received the ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) Prize for best theatre studies book in 2001. Strindberg's Secret Codes was published by Norvik Press (2004) and Philosophers and Thespians: Thinking Performance was published by Stanford University Press (2010). He is co-editor (together with Jeanette Malkin( of Jews and the Making of Modern German Theatre (University of Iowa Press, 2010). He has published widely on European and Israeli theatre as well as on theoretical issues of theatre and performance in academic journals and in books, and is also a translator and a dramaturg.

Laura Cull is Lecturer in Performing Arts at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK. She is editor of Deleuze and Performance (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) and author of a number of articles including "How Do You Make Yourself a Theatre without Organs?: Artaud, Deleuze and the Concept of Differential Presence" (Theatre Research International). Forthcoming publication projects include the monograph, Theatres of Immanence: Deleuze and performance (forthcoming with Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); an issue of the journal Performance Research entitled "On Philosophy and Participation" (co-edited with Karoline Gritzner), and the edited collection Manifesto Now! Instructions for Performance, Philosophy, Politics (forthcoming with Intellect and co-edited with Will Daddario). Laura is Secretary of Performance Studies international (PSi) and Chair of the PSi Performance and Philosophy working group. Trained as an artist, Laura is also developing a practice-based aspect to her research, which has culminated in performances at the ICA (2008) and the Serpentine Gallery, London (also in 2008, with the artists' collective, SpRoUt).



Monday 20th June:


Lunch 12noon

1pm - 2:30pm: Workshop Part I:

During this part of the workshop, Prof Rokem and Dr Cull will briefly talk about their research projects working on the encounter between theatre and philosophy. Workshop participants are then invited to present on their own projects involving theatre/ performance and philosophy in short (10 min) presentations (though this is not compulsory) - please indicate at the time of electronic registration whether you are interested in presenting on your research.

Coffee Break

3pm-5pm: Workshop Part II

This part of the workshop will be dedicated to a more general seminar discussion responding to the projects presented in the first part of the workshop.

Tuesday 21st June:

Coffee from 9.30am

10am - 1pm: Individual Clinics for PhD students with Freddie Rokem and Laura Cull. This is an opportunity for doctoral students to discuss their work and get feedback and advice. There are limited spaces for these clinics, so please indicate your interest and send a short abstract of your thesis and/or any issues you want to discuss at the time of electronic registration.

[There is also the opportunity for participants to attend dress rehearsals for second year practical projects during the morning]

1.30pm Lunch

4pm - 5.30pm Public lecture by Freddie Rokem on 'Dramaturgies of Exile: Brecht and Benjamin Playing Chess and Go'

Response by Laura Cull, followed by general discussion

Dinner 7pm (participants are paying for their own dinner)


Recommended reading in preparation for the workshop:

Freddie Rokem, Philosophers and Thespians: Thinking Performance, Stanford University Press, 2009.

Laura Cull, "While Remaining on the Shore: Ethics in Deleuze's Encounter with Antonin Artaud", in Deleuze and Ethics, ed. Laura Cull, Edinburgh University Press, 2009.

Theatre Research International, Vol 34:3 (2009), Issue devoted to Theatre/Performance and Philosophy


The Workshop, Clinic and public Lecture are free but you need to register your attendance by the 3rd June 2011 by emailing the LICA postgraduate coordinator Jennifer Clark at . Please indicate at the time of electronic registration whether you are interested in presenting on your research during the workshop and/or whether you would like a place on the individual clinics. For any queries please email Karen Juers-Munby at

Who can attend:Anyone
  • Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA)
  • The LICA Building, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YW, UK