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Religion and Performance
A proposed working group for the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR)
This proposed working group seeks to examine the entwinement between the forms, institutions, practices, traditions and impulses of religion and theatrical performance. We seek systematic ways of examining how religion and performance have come into conversation, cooperation and conflict, both historically and in the present.
We wish to place our work at the intersection of the scholarly traditions of theatre and performance studies and the study of religion. Both are committed to the systematic and humanistic critical inquiry of their material, and both are committed to internationalism and the joint participation of scholars from all corners of the world. In these traditions, this group is open to members from all national and cultural backgrounds, and it interests itself in work on all the world’s great spiritual and performative traditions.
Both religion and performance are, in our view, sets of social and cultural practices that have a profound and long-lasting importance to those involved in them. Because these practices are so important, we are committed to a nonsectarian inquiry of them. We assume no particular faith or religious affiliation for our members or our work.
Topics of interest might include (but are not limited to):
• The use of performance within religious practices (i.e., ritual or spirituality) and its relationships to secular performance
• The interactions between structures of religious institutions and theatres, politically, economically, or legally
• Traditions of religious antipathy towards the theatre, and vice versa
• The secularity of performative aesthetics and ways in which this has been challenged
• Attempts to bridge religious divisions by means of performance
• The nature of the theatrical spectator compared to the religious worshipper or congregant, as well as the theatrical performer as compared to the religious practitioner or celebrant
• The use of the transcendent or supernatural in performance
• A comparative analysis of religion and theatre as phenomena or intellectual systems
• Religious performance, including as an ecological engagement or as a “theatre” of the oppressed.

Those who are interested in more information or possibly joining the group should contact one of the proposers: Joshua Edelman at edelmanj@tcd.ie, Farah Yeganeh at farahyeganeh@yahoo.com, or Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen at kim.skjoldager@gmail.com.

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