HomeMagic, exits/endings and water: How does performance escape?

HomeMagic, exits/endings and water: How does performance escape?

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Published on Friday, March 29, 2019


In this day-long event at the University of Portsmouth, the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group and the Applied and Social Theatre Working Group come together to interrogate how an exit from today’s crisis of reality might be envisioned and conjured through performance.  


Joint event organised by TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy + Applied and Social Theatre Research Groups


The image of a deadlock pervades current political, philosophical and artistic debates on the contemporary world, in its various articulations through discourses of crisis, impotence, paralysis. Fed by this condition of impasse, plans of escape are ubiquitously being drawn up, plotting exits, closures and endings. Writing a ‘phenomenology of the end’, Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi (2015) constructs a world with no end, a series of conjunctions and concatenations: ‘and, and, and’ – as in Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome, ‘always in the middle’. Is this a real promise of transformation, envisaging modes of reality and renewing horizons of thought? Or might the inert to-ing and fro-ing also mean that we are somehow stuck in the possible,hardly able to contemplate clear cuts from a state of things that might take us to what only seems impossible. We (forever to be defined because of a paralysing concern of excluding anyone) seem to suffer from a collective vertiginous fear of finitude. Perhaps the vertigo of our superfluous selves in a watery world that could do without humans. Federico Campagna (2018) defies hegemonic assumptions that there is no alternative to today’s reality-system: his answer to the current impasse is to imagine a different form of existence that valorises the ‘magic’ of life. From the perspective of applied theatre, the question of what is possible/impossible, of endings, exits and leavings, is one that, at a very pragmatic level, also poses a variety of challenges – are we in a deadlock with what is possible in applied and social theatre? What happens when a project ends, for example? What continues? Does anything ‘change’? At a more broadly socio-political level, there are questions of ethics, legacy, and transformative potential. As Tim Prentki has written: ‘The transformative process of becoming human is never properly accomplished, is only halted by death, and is attempted anew in each generation. Theatre offers arenas where we can try out transformations, where we can see if the ass’ head fits, and where it does not we can try again. In the words of Samuel Beckett: “All before. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better” (Knowlson 1996: 674).’ (Prentki 2018: 170)   How does performance escape? Can it summon an alternative system of reality? Can it make an exit? Can it disperse, dilute, liquefy our fears? Can magic help us imagine a form of existence governed by different rules, foregrounding the mystery of life? Can water, the sea, the ocean, which are capable of dissolving, disorienting and engulfing, foreground the vulnerability of life not as a weakness to be mastered, but rather as the basis for an alternative understanding of solidarity?   The event aims to engage participants in roundtables and curated discussions at the intersection of philosophy and practice. The programme will include:

  • A keynote by the philosopher Federico Campagna, author of Technic and Magic (2018), which will catalyse the discussion around the need for a reconstruction of a reality system that does not abide by the rules of instrumentality and causality and that accounts for the ineffable dimension of existence.
  • A keynote by Tim Prentki, Professor of Theatre for Development at the University of Winchester and co-editor of The Applied Theatre Reader.
  • An artist talk on water, magic and exits by Vivian Chinasa Ezugha
  • Themed roundtable discussions on magic, exits/endings and water
  • Puppet City, a family-friendly participatory workshop. Build and make a city for puppets to play in and interact with to explore what kind of cities we would like to live in.

This event is family friendly; accompanying children are welcome to join the activities.

Event schedule

  • 10:30-11:00 Registration and welcome
  • 11:00-12:30 Federico Campagna
  • 12:30-13:30 Lunch
  • 13:30-15:00 Tim Prenkti
  • 15:00-15:15 Break
  • 15:15-16:00 Vivian Chinasa Ezugha
  • 16:00-16:15 Break
  • 16:15-17:30 Closing roundtable

Participation fees / Registration

Free for members of TaPRA. Non-members will be required to pay a discounted £15 membership fee (£10 for PG students).

Please join TaPRA online here: http://tapra.org/join-tapra/

A light lunch and refreshments will be included.

Please register at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/magic-exitsendings-and-water-how-does-performance-escape-tickets-57868405960?aff=  

TaPRA is pleased to be able to offer assistance with travel expenses to a small number of PG students. To apply for a travel bursary, please email the organisers: contributions to travel costs will be awarded on the basis of distance from the event and non-availability of institutional funding, and will be considered on a first come first served basis.

For travel bursaries and other information, please contact the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group convenors Fred Dalmasso, Daniela Perazzo Domm and Nik Wakefield at philosophy@tapra.org or the Applied and Social Theatre Working Group convenors Michael Carklin, Matthew Jennings and Zoe Zontou at appliedandsocial@tapra.org.


  • White Swan Building - White Swan Road, Portsmouth
    Portsmouth, Britain (PO1)


  • Saturday, April 06, 2019


  • philosophy, theatre, performance, magic, sociology, politics, geography, english


  • Frédéric Dalmasso
    courriel : f [dot] t [dot] j [dot] dalmasso [at] lboro [dot] ac [dot] uk

Information source

  • Fred Dalmasso
    courriel : f [dot] t [dot] j [dot] dalmasso [at] lboro [dot] ac [dot] uk


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Magic, exits/endings and water: How does performance escape? », Miscellaneous information, Calenda, Published on Friday, March 29, 2019, https://doi.org/10.58079/12ep

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