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Livestreamed on this page on Thursday 23 April 2020 at 8:00 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 10 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 11:00 a.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 16:00 BST (London, UTC+1) / 17:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC+2).

New York City
Thursday 23 April 2020

Net-Works: Mapping Labor in Theatre and Performance

The Doctoral Theatre Students Association (DTSA) Annual Student Conference 2020 produced with generous support from the Cohn Fund, the Roberts Fund, the Lortel Fund, the Executive Officer’s Fund, Martin E. Segal Center, The Doctoral Theatre Students Association, and the Doctoral Students' Council

Thursday 23 April 2020

The Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance, The Graduate Center, City University of New York presented Net-Works: Mapping Labor in Theatre and Performance livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Thursday 23 April 2020 at 8:00 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 10 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 11:00 a.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 16:00 BST (London, UTC+1) / 17:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC+2).

Theatre and performance constantly negotiate between seen and unseen labor. Certain kinds of labor disappear, both socially and theatrically, while others are put on display. “Net-Works: Mapping Labor in Theatre and Performance” ​is a conference that seeks to uncover the collaborative and solitary labor necessitated by creative and performative spaces, the labor of working in a globally connected world, and the labor of working at the intersections of the material, the human, and the ephemeral. This conference aims to discuss and exchange interrogative approaches to the study of labor along with its visible and invisible networks in theatre and performance. The keynote speech of the conference will be presented by ​Shannon Jackson (​Professor of Rhetoric and Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley). Additionally, ​David Savran (Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Performance at The Graduate Center, CUNY) will present an introductory speech tracing labor in theatre and performance​. ​Some of the key questions we seek to explore by means of “Net-Works” include: What are the theoretical and methodological opportunities and challenges posed by interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in the fields of labor and the networks of people, places/spaces, objects, environments, and even species that become manifest in theatre and performance? How does the labor of/as performance shape the interrelations among such elements? How does an awareness of such labor shift our understanding of what performance can be and do?

We acknowledge the extreme difficulties our communities are facing at this time and are grateful to host this virtual space. We look forward to sharing thoughts, engaging in conversations and addressing the labor issues that have been heightened by the global pandemic.

In light of these challenging times, part of our budget has been redistributed towards donations. If you are able, we encourage you to do the same. Here is a non-exhaustive list of organizations working for people in need and some other resources for artists struggling: ✊🏾 DONATE.

Thank you for joining!

This conference is made possible by the generous support from the Cohn Fund, the Roberts Fund, the Lortel Fund, the Executive Officer’s Fund, Martin E. Segal Center, The Doctoral Theatre Students Association, and the Doctoral Students' Council. Organized by Taylor Culbert, Ruijiao Dong, Mayurakshi Sen, and Alex Viteri Arturo.


Tune in to the Ph.D. Program in Theatre at The Graduate Center, CUNY's Facebook page to submit questions for the panelists.

Welcoming Address
8 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 10 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 11 a.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4)

Professor David Savran (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

Panel 1: Labor and Sociality
8:20 a.m. - 9:35 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 10:20 a.m. - 11:35 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 11:20 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4)

Moderator: Ashley Marinacci
Tim Reid, “Clowns and Fungibility: Understanding the Birth of the Birthday Party Clown”
Hui Peng, “The Commitment and Commitment Return in Rimini Protokoll's Remote Macao”
Caro Novella, “On Co-creation – A Practice-based Interrogation on Labor in Socially Engaged Performance”

Panel 2: Visibility and Invisibility of Labor in Performance
9:50 a.m. - 11:05 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 11:50 a.m. - 1:05 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 12:50 p.m. – 2:05 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4)

Moderator: Eylül F. Akıncı
Christie Honoré, “Navigating Non-Neutral: The Hidden Labor of Disabled Performers”
Meghan Frederick, “The Work is The Work: Language, Power, Choreography, and the Political in Two Dances by Sarah Michelson”
George Kan, “Veiling and Unveiling – The Manipulation of Labor’s (In)Visibility and Relatability in Performance”

Panel 3: Material and Labor in Performance
11:20 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 1:20 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 2:20 p.m. – 3: 15 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4)

Moderator: Deepsikha Chatterjee
Jessa Laframboise, “Butterfly Kisses: Interpreting Labour in Material Trace Performance”
Christine Snyder, “Against an Aestheticization of Off-Stage Labor”

Panel 4: Historical Approaches and Theatrical Devices
12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 3: 30 p.m. – 4: 45 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4)

Moderator: Fabián Escalona San Martín
Doria Charlson, “Spectacular Disasters: Fire and Crises of Labor in Progressive Era New York”
Gavin Whitehead, “The ‘Patent Ghost’ and the Problem of Collaborative Labor on the Victorian Stage”
Caroline Propersi-Grossman, “Choreographed Labor: Arts Unions and Cold War Cultural Exchange”

Keynote Speech: “Essential Service and the Proximate Labor of Performance”
2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4)

Professor Shannon Jackson (University of California, Berkeley)


  • Shannon Jackson is the Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts + Design at UC Berkeley where she is also the Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. Jackson's research focuses on two broad, overlapping domains 1) collaborations across visual, performing, and media art forms and 2) the role of the arts in social institutions and in social change. Her most recent books are The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater (M.I.T. Press, 2015) and Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good, co-edited with Johanna Burton and Dominic Willsdon (M.I.T. Press 2016). Other recent projects include the guest-edited Valuing Labor in the Arts with Art Practical, a special issue of Representations on time-based art, and a new online platform of keywords in experimental art and performance, created in collaboration with the Pew Center for Art and Heritage, In Terms of Performance. Jackson's writing has also appeared in dozens of museum catalogues, journals, blogs, and edited collections and she sits on the boards of many Bay Area, national, and international arts organizations. Before moving to UC-Berkeley in 1998, Jackson received a B.A. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University (1989), a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University (1995), and served as an assistant professor of English and Literature at Harvard University from 1995 to 1998.
  • Jessa Laframboise is a second year MA candidate in the Art History program and is simultaneously pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Curatorial Studies at Carleton University. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Nipissing University where she established a practice that is anchored in feminism and performance art history and theory. Currently, her research as an MA candidate seeks to elaborate on dialogues of cosmetics, identity, gender and femininity. Through an exploration of two types of feminist performance art – the private documented and material trace performance – she explores how these types of performance simulate the process of time. This past summer she completed an artist residency in Toronto at Artscape Gibraltar Point with the Feminist Art Collective, a grass roots non-for-profit organization. Most recently, she had her paper, “Politics and Performance: Categories of Second-wave Feminist Performance Art” published in the seventh edition of RENDER and is currently completing a Museology Fellowship at Carleton University.
  • Christine Snyder is a Ph.D. student at the City of New York Graduate Center in Theatre and Performance. She is also a twenty-three-year Broadway front-of-house veteran, union member, and a former backstage doorperson. Christine is currently developing a dissertation project which will address issues of place and document within the Civil War musical and Civil War musical sequence.
  • Tim Reid is an artist and writer. He has presented work in Los Angeles at PAM Residencies, Machine Project, Highways, LAXART, and Human Resources, as well as Links Hall (Chicago) and Chicken Coop Contemporary (Portland) as part of PICA's 2018 TBA Festival, among others. He has been an ensemble member with The Neo-Futurists (Chicago) and Gawdafful National Theater (Los Angeles), a curator at PAM Residencies, and an editor with riting.org. He has a BA from the University of Chicago, an MFA from CalArts in Writing, and in the fall will begin working toward a Ph.D. in Performance Studies at NYU.
  • Hui Peng completed her M.A. in Theory of Literature in University of Lisbon, Portugal and M.A. in Theater and Performance Study in State University of New York at Buffalo. As a theatre director, her recent environmental work, Nietzsche Goes Bananas Here, premiered in July 2018 in Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai. Hui’s research explores the spectatorship, participatory art, and digital humanities. Hui has presented at national conferences on theatre, dance, and culture study, including those convened by MATC, ASTR, CSA, and DSA.
  • Caro Novella is a performing artist-researcher and doctoral candidate in Performance Studies at UC Davis, working at the intersection of socially engaged art, dance and improvisation, installation, visual poetry, and performance art. Insisting in movement practices and material textures, her work bundles health and politics and takes form in workshops, community process-based events, performances, site installations, sensory- more than human- explorations, texts and teachings. Creator of oncogrrrls (2011-ongoing), and the multi-species platform co.sensing, we are already silkworms, writes about rehearsal as a space to weave groups through issues that matter.
  • Christie Honoré is a graduate student at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa studying composition and rhetoric. She received her BA from Vassar College in 2018 where she studied theatre and British literary history. Her work has been published in American Theatre Magazine and her main areas of research include disability studies, performance studies, and access to higher education.
  • Meghan Frederick is a dance artist based in Philadelphia, P.A. and a current MFA candidate at Temple University. Her choreography has been presented and supported by creative residencies throughout New York City and the Northeastern United States, most recently by Cardell Dance Studio, VOX POPULI and Leah Stein Studio (all PA) in collaboration with Kate Seethaler; Space Gallery (ME), Movement Research (NYC) Brooklyn Studios for Dance (NYC), Arts on Site (NYC), Center for Performance Research (NYC), STUFFED Dinner and Dance (NYC), and The Living Room (ME). Meghan teaches dance to children and adults at institutions throughout the Northeast. Meghan was a member of the Brian Brooks Moving Company from 2008-2014 and has recently performed with Liz Lerman, Carlye Eckert, Maya Orchin, Catherine Galasso, and Kendra Portier, and as a guest with SUBCIRCLE Dance Company.
  • George Kan is an artist and writer from London. He is a regular dance critic for the Brooklyn Rail and teacher at the Irondale Theater in Brooklyn. His photography work is featured in Vice Magazine. He holds an M.A. in Performance Studies (NYU) and B.A. in History of Art (Cambridge).
  • Doria E. Charlson is a Ph.D. Candidate at Brown University in the Department of Theatre Arts & Performance Studies. She also holds MA degrees in Theatre Arts & Performance Studies and History from Brown University. Her dissertation considers how crises of capitalism become spectacularized through the laboring body. Her project draws from dance studies, performance historiography, and critical theory to trace both how crises, and their responses, migrate across sites and industries and how bodily comportment becomes critical to the framing and management of said disruptions. Her writing can be found in Dance Research Journal, Women & Performance, in a recent anthology from Rutgers University Press, African American Arts: Aesthetics, Activism & Futurity and forthcoming in TDR: The Drama Review. Doria is from the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated with a BA in History and a minor in Dance from Stanford University. She loves the color orange.
  • Gavin Whitehead is a scholar, educator, theatre artist, and translator who earned his M.F.A in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from Yale School of Drama in 2017. His dissertation examines horror theater in London from 1794-1931, seeking to explain why playgoers thrilled at representations of hideous monstrosity and violent crime. A former Fulbright scholar, Gavin spent a year in Berlin studying theater after completing his undergraduate education. He holds degrees in German and Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he graduated with Highest Honors in 2012.
  • Caroline Propersi-Grossman is the daughter of a New York City stagehand, a Ph.D. Candidate in history at Stony Brook University, and a labor activist. Her dissertation-in-progress, The Creative Hands: Stagehands, Their Union, and the Backstage/Frontstage Divide, is a gendered labor history that focuses on the relationship between work, culture, and gender, in New York City’s entertainment industry between 1945 and 1995. Her work has appeared in Gotham: A Blog for Scholars of New York City History. Caroline served as Chief Steward of the Graduate Student Employees Union/CWA Local 1104. She is currently working with 1199SEIU organizing healthcare workers in upstate New York.
  • David Savran is a specialist in twentieth and twenty-first century U.S. and German theatre, and is completing a new book project on transnational musical theatre. He is the author of eight books, whose wide-ranging subjects include the Wooster Group, Tennessee Williams, white masculinity, and the Broadway musical. His most recent is Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class, the winner of the Joe A. Callaway Prize. He has served as a judge for the Obie Awards and the Lucille Lortel Awards and was twice a juror for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. He is Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Performance and holds the Vera Mowry Roberts Chair in American Theatre at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

About HowlRound TV

HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email [email protected], or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

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