Playing is one of the key principles of theatre and other performative activities. It is also a cornerstone of the Theatrical Event, and new theatrical forms are expanding and challenging our concepts of playing. The working group has decided to continue its ambition to question playing and play culture within the framework of the Theatrical Event. The aim of the working group is to develop methodologies and strategies for the analysis of playing, in particular the relationship between performers and audiences, physical presence and embodiment, mediation and the various functions of playing.

Poetics of Playing implies a number of research questions which can be summarized as the structures and strategies of playing.

  • Structures: How is playing organized? What are the conventions and rules of playing? How can the frames of playing, processes, styles, and contexts be described? Are there limitations for playing? How does playing relate to reality and fiction?
  • Strategies: What are the aims and purposes of playing? What functions of playing can be identified? How does playing relate to co-players, audiences, society? Which ideologies are used by players concerning class, gender and ethnicity? How are power relations expressed in playing? Is there an ethics of playing?

These and related questions will be discussed as the common theoretical ground of the group’s work. There are of course many forms of theatrical playing which will serve as examples – contemporary as well as historical ones, typical or exceptional – but the primary purpose of our meetings is the development of a common ground based on these research questions. The schedule for the next meetings will be the following:

  • 15 November 2011: Abstracts for the Stockholm meeting are sent in
  • 25 January 2012: Papers as ‘work in progress’ (max. 10 pages) are circulated to all participants
  • 17-19 February 2012: Meeting in Stockholm
  • 22-28 July 2012: Meeting in Santiago de Chile with completed papers
  • 2013: Meeting in Barcelona with revised papers

Note: Those who are not able to attend the meeting in Stockholm but plan to join the working group in Santiago are invited to submit an abstract for consideration by 15 November 2011 as well.

It is important to note that these meetings serve to develop a common research ground for the group’s work. This has been the Theatrical Event working group’s practice since its inception in 1997, and has resulted in two publications (Theatrical Events 2004 and Festivalising! 2007), with a third volume on “Playing Culture” in print. All these books have been prepared in a joint effort during our meetings, including mutual critique and numerous revisions of the texts.

We want to encourage all members of the group to participate in the Stockholm meeting and we also welcome new members to join the group. Hopefully the senior members of the group can convince younger scholars in their immediate environment to contribute to our project on.

The Poetics of Playing.
All correspondence should be sent to the group’s convener, Prof. Anneli Saro (member of the Executive Committee of IFTR) and to the co-convener, Prof. Willmar Sauter (convener of the group 1998 – 2010) at: