CFP: 21st Century Dialogues with Edward Gordon Craig

Action, Scene, and Voice: 21st-Century Dialogues with Edward Gordon Craig
Friday 29 – Sunday 31 March, 2013
Pomona College, Claremont, California, USA

On the last page of “The Art of the Theatre: The First Dialogue” (1905), Edward Gordon Craig’s Stage Director says: “I am now going to tell you out of what material an artist of the theatre of the future will create his masterpieces. Out of ACTION, SCENE, and VOICE. Is it not very simple?” Theatre must search for its own language, Craig believed—as Antonin Artaud and Jerzy Grotowski likewise argued, decades later. This idea nourished the experimental theatre of the second half of the twentieth century and remains crucial within contemporary notions of Practice-as-Research.

According to Craig, theatre was to be placed in the hands of a theatre-artist, someone able to select the appropriate materials and shape them into a production. While this figure is to some extent equivalent to the modern director, not every director is an artist, as Craig himself pointed out. In his extraordinary essay “On the Actor and the Über-Marionette” of 1908, he posited the possibility of actors themselves becoming artists.

Craig’s own shift from an emphasis on dramatic literature to one on theatre practice marks a larger move in the field from nineteenth-century naturalism to twentieth-century abstraction. Within his own work, this shift led Craig to consider an extensive range of theatrical forms and productions; refusing to settle on one as exhausting theatre’s possibilities, he praised instances of the Art of the Theatre wherever he found it—regardless of whether the actors were even human beings. Craig’s “simple” vision has long been celebrated, yet its theoretical and historical complexity is often ignored and for most of the past century Craig has been recognized primarily for his achievements in visual design and for his (impossible?) provocation of replacing the actor with the Über-Marionette. To spark dialogue about the role of his ideas and achievements in
theatrical art more generally, Action, Scene and Voice proposes to re-examine the work of Edward Gordon Craig, its context, and its legacy.

Sub-topics bearing on Craig’s oeuvre might include but need not be limited to:

devising groups, and the actor as artist
the Über-Marionette in the digital age
narrative and words in Craig’s oeuvre and today
object animation
solo performance
Craig’s legacy and technologies in performing arts movement
Craig’s Hamlet and other productions
theatre space
total theatre
the spectator
Craig and interdisciplinarity
Craig’s legacy and post-humanist performance
the director
Craig and the historical avant-garde
Craig as collaborator
Craig and women
Craig and performance theory
Craig and Italy
Craig and the Commedia dell’Arte
Craig and the Greeks
Craig and Shakespeare
Craig and Victorian theatre

Craig and the theatres of South East Asia, Japan and China

Craig and the legacies of theatrical families (Ellen Terry, Edith Craig, Godwin, Henry Irving etc).

Please send 250-word abstracts and a two-page CV (including institutional affiliation and contact information) by 1 September 2012 to Thomas Leabhart: Applicants will be notified of their status by 1 October 2012.

Selected papers will be considered for publication in Theatre Arts Journal: Studies in Scenography and Performance, an electronic and peer-reviewed scholarly journal (

Co-Chairs: Thomas Leabhart (Pomona College), Juliet Koss (Scripps College), Cathy Seaman (Program Administrator, Pomona College Theatre)

Organizing Committee: Franc Chamberlain (University of Huddersfield, UK); Irene Eynat-Confino (Tel Aviv University); Eric Haskell (Scripps College); Thomas Price (National Dong Hua Unversity, Hualen, Taiwan and former Philbrick Library Archivist); James Taylor (Pomona College)

Advisory Committee: Jean-Marie Apostolidès (Stanford University); Marc Duvillier (University of Paris 3); Kimberly Jannarone (University of California, Santa Cruz); Didier Plassard (Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier 3); Leonard Pronko (Pomona College); Olga Taxidou (University of Edinburgh)


About Sarah Bay-Cheng

Professor of Theater at Bowdoin College. Co-host for the On TAP (Theatre and Performance Studies) podcast at Editor for the book series Avant-Gardes in Performance (Palgrave). Sporadically blogging about theatre, performance, and digital culture. twitter: @performaddict
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