The Performance-as-Research Working Group explores issues related to performance (and creative practices) within scholarly research and is engaged in investigating methodologies where performance (or creative practice) is used as a central part of the research process.


The Working Group was instigated by Baz Kershaw and Jacqueline Martin and had its first official working session in 2006. Since that time, the group continues to expand the network of researchers with each annual meeting, where the sharing of practice and subsequent group critical reflection informs and inspires new approaches to articulating and disseminating new knowledge within the vast fields of theatre and performance, gathered and obtained vis a vis creative (performance) practices. The term Performance-as-Research (PaR) covers various ways that different cultures, countries and academic contexts frame and name this kind of research.

Group members presenting at the Working Group sessions (25 each year) include researchers, artistic practitioners and theatre scholars representing Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, UK, and USA. Each year, up to 5 places are reserved for new members to participate in the group. Practical sessions at the annual conference are open to visitors to observe, although visitors will often be invited to participate in the workshop, at the discretion of the workshop facilitator(s).

Leadership History

  • Current Conveners (2017-2021): Bruce Barton, Manola Gayatri & Johnmichael Rossi
  • Founders: Baz Kershaw & Jacqueline Martin (2006)
  • 2010-2013 Conveners: Anna Birch & Mark Fleishmann 
  • 2013-2017 Conveners: Annette Arlander, Jonathan Heron (-2016) and Emma Meehan


The following themes and questions frame our ‘calls’ for engagement, in conjunction with the themes set by each institution hosting IFTR.

  • PEDAGOGY: Can you teach PaR? Does PaR have its own pedagogy? Does PaR require intergenerational collaboration or can it be refefned by each new generation of practitioner-scholars?
  • LEGACY: How does PaR relate to other traditions internationally, e.g. 'artistic research,' 'research-led practice' and/or 'experimental systems'?
  • INTERDISCIPLINARITY & TRANSDISCIPLINARITY: How does PaR relate to the interdisciplinary trend within universities internationally? Does PaR contribute to a 'transdisciplinarization' of knowledge?
  • ECOLOGY & SUSTAINABILITY: Is PaR ecological and can this research methodology support sustainable practices? To what extent does PaR address unsustainable practices in academia? What do PaR scholars need to sustain their practices? What environmental conditions does PaR require?
  • SOMATIC: Can a wider exploration of human embodiment, somatic practice and movement analysis support PaR in the future?
  • WRITING: How does writing about PaR intervene in publication controversies within performance research and digital futures


The IFTR Performance as Research Working Group has been a touchstone for the PaR/PBR field globally, setting the tone, guiding the focus, and providing the initiative for this discourse and body of activity since its inception. It therefore feels like a fruitful, even requisite moment for reflection, communal assessment and collaborative visioning in terms of the group’s mandate and energies in order to both fully capitalize on its many accomplishments, established profile, and accumulated status, and to ensure that its relevance, pioneering function, and international embrace are vitalized and enhanced. The collective membership of the PaR WG dates back even earlier than its first official session in 2006, and over the past four years we three have had the opportunity to work together within sub-groups, on panels, and throughout related conference activities. As a team of three artist-scholars, representing various parts of the globe (Manola: Indian citizen, based in South Africa; Bruce: Canadian; Johnmichael: American/Italian based in the UK), and with a range of research expertise and arts practices, we are well-equipped to build on the successes of previous convenors. Our general aim will be to assist the WG in moving towards an increased degree of articulation regarding its interests, activities, and ambitions, in accordance with changes in the Federation and developments within the field of PaR.

  • Below is a list aims and objectives that we would prioritize in facilitating the PaR WG that we believe reflect its collective interests, based on its activities over the past several years.
  • Ensure that the WG remains at the vanguard of the evolving discourse(s) and ecolog(ies) of PaR at this historical moment, through our publications, presentations, and practical experimentation.
  • Extend and make systematic our efforts towards documentation and dissemination, including an increased focus on processes through which creative practice is articulated and made accessible to a broad range of ‘audiences.’
  • Extend our considerations of the relationship between PaR practice and pedagogy as well as continue to critically engage PaR’s relationship within institutional frameworks as well as in non-institutionalised contexts.
  • Exchange and collaborate with other Working Groups at IFTR and with other PaR and Artistic Research organizations internationally, while extending the multi-, trans-, and interdisciplinary nature of our membership and activities.
  • Extend the diversity of not just our membership but also of our topics of discussion, our engagement with current research/creation activity, and our exploration of contemporary social, cultural, political, and identity-based contexts; this includes extending the personal and institutional connectedness of the WG, particularly in relation to the Global South.
  • Reassess and revise the shape of our annual meetings, both in terms of how these are scheduled within the conference program and in terms of how to most effectively utilize the time available to us.
  • Build mechanisms by which new WG members are welcomed and integrated into the established group.


The 2017 conference workshops and events hosted by the PaR Working Group was well-attended, with several new members presenting adn sharing practice in collaboration with a smalle core group of retuirning members: Annette Arlander, Emma Meehan, Laurelann Porter, Johnmichael Rossi and Christina Schmutz. The Pre-Conference Workshop, “ile ogbon ati aye:” house of life wisdom was led by Laurelann Porter, with guest artist Maestro Monza Calabar was organized in collaboration with the Performance and Religion Working Group, and was open to all conference attendees. Approximately twenty delegates participated. A developing model for pre-conference workshops, provides an opportunity to collaborate with other working groups, which has been an expressed interest of PaR and other working groups.

Four Sub-Groups each led a ninety-minute workshop designed around the intermingling of the group members ‘papers,’ which were shared and discussed in advance of the conference. Across the four groups, there were a total of 16 Presenters. An additional 5 conference delegates attended the workshops as Visitors and were given the choice to participate, document or observe the work.

  • Workshop 1 (Led by Emma Meehan, Diego Pizarro and Cibele Sastre) involved explorations in somatic practice and ‘crossing the threshold.’
  • Workshop 2 (Led by Flavia D’Avila and Luciana Hartman) incorporated practices from Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed as well as D’Avila’s devised practice to explore the creation of narrative through sound, gesture and text.
  • Workshop 3 (Led by Marina Marcondes Machado and Chloe Dechery) explored space, object and the construction of narrative.
  • Workshop 4 (Led by Lucia Repasska and Christina Schmutz) involved the dislocating and de-contextualizing academic texts through long-form improvisation.

In addition there was an Opening Session led by Co-Conveners Annette Arlander and Emma Meehan, which framed the week’s activities within the group’s eleven-year history and forward-looking trajectory. The Closing Session, involving a scaffolded individual-to-group reflection led by incoming Co-Convener Johnmichael Rossi. The Curated (General) Panel included paper presentations by two of the three incoming conveners, Bruce Barton and Johnmichael Rossi, as well as Ciane Fernandes of Federal University of Bahia. Panel Chairs Emma Meehan and Annette Arlander encouraged the panel members to design a highly interactive panel in the spirit of PaR, that ruptured the traditional structure for paper presentations. Beginning with Barton’s discussion of Unstable Intimacies via Mixed Media Memories, a Skype-enabled presentation via live video, where attendees were asked to pair up and communicate with one another through their smartphone messaging apps. Rossi’s ‘playper’ disrupts his own performance-lecture where the cross-contamination of his playwrighting and academic writing practices, forge written embodiments of three research projects; characters as vessels emerge from the audience. Fernandes presentation on When somatic meets performative transformed the presentation space into a laboratory as attendants were introduced to Somatic-Performative Approaches to Performance-as-Research.


Convenors (2017-21): Bruce Barton, Manola Gayatri & Johnmichael Rossi


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