Performing the World

Summary Info Festival StoryFestival Events Not AvailableOther SourcesPractical Info

Country and Region United StatesNew York
Type of Festival Dance, Drama, Music
Location of Festival New York, New York, USA
Festival Contact Information

Madelyn Chapman, Conference Producer
East Side Institute
920 Broadway, 14th Floor
New York, NY 10010 USA
Phone: +01 212-941-0511
Fax: +01 212-941-8340

Festival Description

The Performing the World conference is held in New York City. Performing the World is a three-day “performance of conversation” with people from all over the world — scholars and researchers; teachers, therapists, social workers and community organizers; doctors and other health workers; theatre and other performance artists; union activists and business leaders; economists and political activists — on the subject of performance and the transformation of the individual, the community, and the world.

With this theme, we ask performance activists and scholars to reflect on and address the political aspects of their performance work; at the same time, we invite social change activists to reflect on and address the performance aspects of their political activities. We are looking for proposals —for panels, workshops, performances, demonstrations, installations, etc. — that address this overarching question.

Festival Dates October 10 - 12, 2014
Festival Links

Festival Story:

Performing the World (PTW) was born in a conversation between East Side Institute co-founder, the late Fred Newman, and me at the end of the summer of 2000. We had already “discovered” perfor­mance, and its essential role in human development and learning was key to the therapeutic, educational and community-organizing work of the East Side Institute and its broader community. At the same time, Newman and I were also hav ing con ver sa tions with Ken and Mary Ger gen, lead ing social-constructionist psychologists who themselves were turning toward performance, particularly by experi­menting with new performatory modes of presenting research and scholarship. During the 1990s at annual meetings of the American Psychological Association, we and the Gergens did some joint perfor­matory symposia and Newman’s original “psychology plays” were performed — all to great enthusiasm. We were encouraged, and wanted to do something bigger and of our own structure.

My international travels had introduced me to many different perfor­matory practices initiated at both the grassroots and from within the universities. I met dozens of people and heard of hundreds more who were using performance to help people and commu nities grow and create positive social change. We decided to reach out to those doing this work/play — from community organizers to business peo­ple, from artists to social workers, from therapists to teachers.

The first Performing the World conference was held in October 2001, just a few weeks after 9/11. Hundreds from all over the world showed up at the beautiful oceanside village of Montauk, 120 miles from New York City, as if this kind of gathering was what they and their communities needed at such a moment.

There have been five PTWs since then. The last two — in 2008 and 2010 — were held in New York City, bringing the conference to one of the most vibrant and diverse cultural centers of the world and partnering with the All Stars Project as co-sponsor. PTW has been greatly enriched by having the All Stars’ performing arts and devel­opment center on 42nd Street near Times Square as the conference’s home base and by the inclusion of hundreds of young people and adults who participate in its programs. Additionally, both the Institute and the All Stars reach out to friends across New York City’s many communities to provide housing for PTW participants and broaden the “performance space.” I am inspired by the growth of the global perfor mance movement and the role that PTW is playing in it, as not only a conference/performance festival but also a unique com­munity event bringing people together to perform a new world.
—— Lois Holzman, director of the East Side Institute


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Podcast interviews:


Practical Info:

Call for proposals 2014:
  • Performing the World 2014 welcomes proposals that relate to this theme from a variety of perspectives, practices, disciplines and settings.
    Proposals are due February 15, 2014.
    • Our theme for 2014, “How Shall We Become?”, is on the one hand reminiscent of the American civil rights movement anthem, “We Shall Overcome.” A beautiful and powerful musical statement of resistance and determination to stay strong in the face of opposition to change, the song not only inspired activists in the U.S., but was embraced and adopted by social movements around the world. “How Shall We Become?” also responds to the historical moment we live in. With revolution and counterrevolution raging in the Middle East, seemingly endless war laying waste to much of central Africa, economic collapse and stagnation in southern Europe, paralyzing political polarization in the U.S., increasing poverty combined with growing disparities in opportunity everywhere, and millions of people moving around the globe seeking a better life, “How are we becoming?” has become the cutting-edge question.
    • For additional information and proposal submission forms visit


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