Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater

Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater was conceived and organized by Esther Neff (Panoply Performance Lab/PERFORMANCY FORUM) and Yelena Gluzman (UCSD/Science Project).

PROOFS, THEOREMS, REBUTTALS AND PROPOSITIONS- A CONFERENCE OF THEORETICAL THEATERTheorems, Proofs, Rebuttals and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater: Amapola Prada speaking during a discussion as part of the conference. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013 at Glasshouse Projects
Preview of and benefit for the conference featuring a lecture by Dr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, an excerpt of G. Douglas Barrett‘s Hence Where Labor performed by Fahad Siadat and  Robert Ashley‘s Public Opinion Descends Upon the Demonstrators, performed by Varispeed.

September 6th-13th, 2013 at Glasshouse, Panoply Performance Laboratory, The Collapsable Hole, and Momenta Art
The conference begins with four plenary performances, each followed by a moderated discussion. The four plenary performances become the initial propositions of the conference, and conference participants respond to one or more of these propositions through some combination of written, spoken, or performed works. Response presentations held on Thursday and Friday, September 12 and 13.

Plenary presentations:

Amapola Prada / REVOLUTION
(GP, Friday Sept. 6, 5-8pm, flexible entry)
Moderated Discussion with Amapola Prada and Anna Watkins Fisher (GP, Friday Sept. 6, 8-9pm)

(PPL, Friday Sept. 6, 10-11pm)
Moderated Discussion with Kikuko Tanaka and Chloë Bass (PPL, Saturday Sept. 7, 4pm-5pm)

Reality Research Center/ PLATO’S SYMPOSIUM
(Acts I-III at MA, August 31-Sept. 5; Act IV at GP, Sept. 7, 7pm)
Moderated Discussion with Reality Research Center and Yelena Gluzman (GP, Sunday Sept. 8, 4:30-5:30pm)

Mike Taylor / IDEA MACHINE
(Workshop at CH, Sunday Sept. 8, 1-4pm)
Performance and Moderated Discussion with Mike Taylor and Gavin Kroeber (CH, Sunday Sept. 8, 6-7pm)

GP=Glasshouse Project
PPL=Panoply Performance Laboratory
MA=Momenta Art
CH= Collapsable Hole
(see VENUES for addresses and maps)

Glasshouse Projects
We now continue to theorize using the process and practices of performance to variously split, reinforce, explicate, re-design, represent, rebut, and reify any theories developed by PART I. These presentations occur at Glasshouse (246 Union Avenue) over the course of two days, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, and FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13.

Thursday, September 12

7: Samita Sinha: Responding to Amapola Prada and Mike Taylor
7:25: Amalia Mathewson: Responding to Amapola Prada
7:50  Karen Schiff: Responding to Mike Taylor
8:15: Gelsey Bell: 12 OBSERVATIONS, 7 ADDITIONS, 2 QUESTIONS, 1 DESIRE (Responding across plenary presentations)
8:40: Anya Liftig: Responding to Kikuko Tanaka
9:05: Gavin Kroeber: Responding to Mike Taylor
9:30: Dhira Rauch: Praxis and its Discontents and Revolving Complicities in Time Based Art. Responding to Amapola Prada and Kikuko Tanaka
9:55: Laylage Courie: Responding to Mike Taylor
10:20: Igor Rodriguez: Presentation on Logos Responding to Reality Research Center
10:45 Chloe Bass: Responding to Kikuko Tanaka
11:05-11:30: wrap-up discussion and clean-up

7-8pm Erin Mee: (durational) In response to Reality Research Center, I have installed several activities around the presentation room to be done solo or in small groups as you wish. I invite you to join me.
7: Shawn Chua: Responding to Reality Research Center
7:25: Cat Tyc: Responding to Kikuko Tanaka
7:50: Valerie Kuehne: Responding to Kikuko Tanaka
8:15: Julia Lee Barclay-Morton: Responding to conference at large
8:40: Nik Wakefield

<break, 10 minutes>

9:15: Sarah Butler: Agreement  Responding to conference at large
9:40: Howard Pflanzer: FEAST: LINE-UP (Responding to Amapaola Prada) Response developed in collaboration with Renee Conly and performed by Renee Hermiz
10:05: Kikuko Tanaka: Responding across plenarists
10:30: Michael DiPietro: Responding across plenarists
10:50 Lorene Bouboushian: Responding to Amapola Prada
11:20pm-all hours of the night: Closing Party at PPL, down the street


Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater began with the simple conception of “theater” as a public site for insight (in Greek, theater means ‘seeing place’), tied intrinsically to theory or ‘ways of seeing.’ This conference is based on the premise that performance is not just an artistic medium, it is also a vast and complex conceptual/ philosophic structure (multiplicitous, logarithmic, exponential, quantum). We posit performance as an “uncanny social science,” a way of researching human social experience by being it, by encompassing, constructing, simultaneously causing and being caused-by business, community and kinship conceptions, systems of definition like gender and race, political and intuitional constructs, and so on.

The project seeks both to recognize, theorize, and authorize performance-making as a constructive theorizing and envisioning act that may have the agency to escape autonomous artistic spheres and participate in co-construction of public discourse and, as a performance project itself, to invent, theorize, test, bend, expand, and corrupt the conference’s own overarching theory and mode of production.


Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater is an attempt to formalize the give-and-take between performance and philosophy through an inclusive, structured conference format. Similar to a classic philosophy meeting, the week-long conference is based on a claim-rebuttal structure. Significantly, the conference begins with four selected theoretical positions, each presented via performance. Each performance is followed by a panel, in which a moderated general discussion precedes plenary speakers who respond to one of the four performances. After these discussions, all delegates are given time and the opportunity to submit writing in response to the performances as well as to the plenary speakers. These texts may be position statements / academic essays / research or project proposals / leading questions, or other kinds of texts. Some of these statements will be printed in a conference-wide publication, and will serve as the basis for a final, open discussion.

Four theoretical performances provide the core of the conference. Mike Taylor (USA) will present IDEA MACHINE: Experiments in Theatre Techniques for Audience Transformation, a work reflecting on the conditions of theater itself, and focusing on instances of compression and transformation. Reality Research Center (FINLAND) will perform MYSTERIES OF LOVE, a monumental performance series in the form of an esoteric school in which repeated lessons on eros guide the pupil toward an experience of absolute beauty. Amapola Prada (PERU) will show REVOLUTION, a piece that posits methods for relating ideologic structures to the body via the artist’s own pessimism. Finally, Kikuko Tanaka (JAPAN/USA) will present POULTRY PARADISE AND ITS DISCONTENTS to investigate the constructed nature of revolt/resistance, intertwining sexuality, and artistic production. Each project is paired with a critical writer, who will have access to the development of the project, and will moderate the discussion following its performance.