Platform 6.1: Spectatorship and Participation

Call for Papers

This edition of Platform takes as a point of departure the proliferation of different modes of spectatorship in fringe and festival theatre in recent years. One-on-one performance, immersive theatre, virtual performance, and pervasive gaming are just a few examples indicating the diversity of contemporary performance styles, each placing very different demands on the spectator’s mode of engagement. A fresh evaluation of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ spectatorship has now become necessary, particularly in the light of Jacques Rancière’s famous challenge to the idea of ‘passive’ spectatorship. This challenge serves to underline spectatorship as a practice. We encourage contributions which grapple with what we mean today by intimacy, distance, interactivity, engagement and participation, and how this might reflect on the active or passive practice of spectatorship.

The idea of embodied spectatorship is central to such debates – for example, how might the influx of performances in virtual space affect our understanding of embodiment? Reflection on one-on-one performance and other contemporary theatrical forms can contribute to new understandings of authorship. In what ways are these performance trends and developments rooted in the specificities of our cultural, social and political climate: in mass-media culture, globalization, and economic crisis? The upcoming edition also looks towards histories of spectatorship and theatrical space to trace how closely participation is linked to socio-political determinants like class, culture and tradition.

Recent advances in audience research feed into an understanding of the practice of spectatorship. Whilst we encourage work that engages with semiotics, cultural materialism, and qualitative and quantitative audience research, we also look for submissions exploring the relationships of cognitive science and neuroscience to audience research, particularly in relation to catharsis, empathy, kinesthesia, and kinesthetic empathy.

Platform, as always, particularly encourages practice-as-research papers. We are also happy to consider new dramatic writing, interviews, photographic essays, performance responses, and other creative work that speaks to our themes. We would like to encourage submissions not only from scholars of theatre, performance and dance, but also from those working in literature, media arts, film studies, medieval studies, cultural studies and other related disciplines. The deadline for submissions is June 7th 2011. Submissions should be 4000 words in length, and accompanied by a 200 word abstract. Please submit papers to

Papers might deal with, but are not limited to:

  • Agency, Authorship, and Community
  • Liveness, Mediatisation and Virtual Audiences
  • Histories of Spectatorship
  • The Ethics of Spectatorship and Participation
  • Spectatorship and Embodiment
  • The Phenomenology of Spectatorship
  • Sensory Excess
  • Ethnographic Approaches to Audience
  • International Audiences: Spectatorship and Festival Circuits
  • Radical Spectatorship
  • Protocols of Spectatorship
  • Non-compliant Audiences
  • Spectatorship, Space, and Agency
  • Intimacy and Complicity
  • Spectatorship and Power
  • New Advances in Audience Research

We ask that all potential contributors familiarise themselves with our submission guidelines.


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