CFP: “Werk It—Gay for Play”LGBTQ Focus Group Call for Papers

Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference

August 1-4, 2013, Hyatt Regency (Grand Cypress), Orlando, FL

Submission Deadlines:

Individual Papers or Presentations: October 1 (send to conference planner Jason Fitzgerald, jtf2113 [at]

Complete Sessions: November 1 (submit online directly to ATHE at

The LGBTQ Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) invites panel, performance, roundtable, seminar, “text-and-response,” working group, and related proposals for ATHE 2013 in Orlando, FL. Although presentations on all topics related to theatre and performance in general and to LGBTQ issues in particular will be considered, we encourage participants to develop ideas related to the conference theme, “P[L]AY: Performance, Pleasure, and Pedagogy.”Provocatively leaping the gap between pleasure and labor, play and political economy, the conference theme “P[L]AY” invites a wide range of interventions from queer theorists, critics, performers, and performing theorists with (a critical) attitude. The LGBTQ Focus Group is therefore interested in sessions exploring the ways in which work and leisure collide and collude in queer experience, aesthetics, and activism. We hope our sessions will attend to the theatrical, historical, geographical, and cultural dimensions of the specific roles that queer persons occupy in play-as-work and work-as-play economies. Questions to be considered may include: 

  • How do queerness and labor intersect in local and global economies of pleasure? Specific sites of investigation might include sex work; drag performers as tourist attractions; worker efficiency as werk; unique expectations upon queers in service industries (food service, tourism, beauty care, interior design, etc.); the marketization of coming-out narratives in solo drama, reality television, and tabloid journalism.
  • In what ways do theatre and entertainment for young people, particularly (but not only) from Disney and its subsidiaries, deliver “scriptive things” that shape the consciousness of queer youth?
  • How does play become an imperative for art students, whether in conservatories or liberal arts colleges, and what effects does this imperative have upon queer youth and queers aspiring to be artists? By extension, how does the institutionalization of play as pedagogy create its own challenges for students learning to play in the real world?
  • How is queerness managed in professional sports, whether in recruiting practices, journalistic coverage, or team dynamics? What sorts of queer interventions are at play when sports are placed on stage or otherwise made to feel theatrical?
  • What potential do playful dramaturgies of protest—from Brecht to Boal to Butler; from deep play to dark play to camp play—continue to hold amidst the changing demands placed upon queer activism, locally and globally, by neoliberalism and the decline of liberal democracy?
  • What forms of gender play and playful sexual expression have yet to be discovered in the representations and narratives of the dramatic canon, not only in authors more friendly to queer readings (Shakespeare, Stein) but also in those more seemingly resistant (Goethe, Chekhov)?

We also invite session coordinators to think “queerly” about the kinds of sessions that they propose and the disciplinary diversity of the colleagues in those proposed sessions (though a certain number of traditional panel proposals are, of course, welcome). How, for instance, might we profit from a series of participants’ short assessments of a single, guiding performance or text? What kind of conversation would emerge in a seminar whose members (scholars, artists, and others) circulated pre-written papers to generate discussion questions for the conference? How might a session take advantage of the conference’s local tourist attractions to craft site-specific performance interventions? What more radical alternatives to the traditional panel have yet to be conceived?INFORMATION ON SUBMITTING PROPOSALS:1.   Completed proposals (with all session members assembled) may be submitted directly to ATHE at no later than November 1, 2012. Please forward a copy of your completed proposal to Jason Fitzgerald (, and please note that all technology requests must be included in your completed proposal. Consultation with the LGBTQ conference planner well in advance of the November 1 deadline is recommended and appreciated.2.   While complete sessions are strongly encouraged, individual paper proposals may be submitted to the LGBTQ Focus Group conference planner, Jason Fitzgerald, at I will attempt to group submissions into cohesive sessions, but I cannot guarantee inclusion. In order to be considered, individual proposals must be submitted by October 1, 2012. Abstracts (250 words) must include the presentation title and the submitter’s contact information and must specify any A/V needs. Individuals wishing to identify colleagues with whom to create sessions prior to the November 1 deadline may use the LGBTQ listserv to circulate questions or possible session topics ( ATHE does not accept individual paper submissions: do not submit your individual proposal on the ATHE website.3.   All A/V support is fee-based. Grants for A/V support are available and encouraged. To apply, follow the directions on the proposal submissions form at ATHE’s website and fill out any additional information required. You will be notified of grant monies at the same time that you are notified of the status of your session. ATHE cannot accommodate A/V requests submitted after November 1 without substantial cost to the individual presenter.4.   Please note that ATHE runs from Thursday through Sunday in 2013. The application form will not accept scheduling preferences.5.   We encourage session coordinators with proposals that encompass the interests of multiple focus groups to pursue a multidisciplinary session. Presenters wishing to create multidisciplinary sessions should contact the Focus Group conference planners for each of the three groups that they propose as co-sponsors of their sessions, since multidisciplinary session coordinators who do not complete this step are likely to have their sessions ranked low or rejected.6.   Presenters proposing sessions outside the traditional panel format are asked to be specific in their proposals concerning the structure and number of participants, so that ATHE can be notified about time/space needs.7.   ATHE will notify the LGBTQ Focus Group concerning accepted or rejected panels sometime in February. Presenters should expect to hear from the conference planner or the session coordinator by early March.


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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