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CfP: The Blackfriars Conference ‘Performance, Playhouse, Practice, and Play’, 2-5 November 2023

Performance, Playhouse, Practice, and Play

The Blackfriars Conference Returns!


This November, the American Shakespeare Center will welcome conference attendees back to the Blackfriars Playhouse, where we will join together each day of the conference to hear papers, celebrate attending the plays in our season, and enjoy other social events and activities. Additionally, for the first time ever, conference registration and submissions will be open to undergraduate students. Paper presentations and staging sessions will be in-person only, but we are excited to also offer remote participation for some colloquy sessions.

Read below for details about the submission process for this cycle.

Call for Papers

For the 2023 Blackfriars Conference, we are soliciting three different types of submissions:

Plenary papers – Since 2001, we have featured papers that explore the performative conditions of early modern plays, the effect of place on those performances, the practices of the players, and the texts themselves through time. These 10 minute (13 minutes for presenters employing actors to demonstrate a point) plenary presentations take place on the Blackfriars Stage. To present a plenary paper, please submit a 250-300 word abstract outlining your topic.

Colloquy leaders – Since 2009, we have convened conversations amongst interested scholars on a variety of subjects. These 60 minute colloquies are guided by a leader who determines their format and shape. Examples of past presentations include: panels of short papers, seminars in which each participant submits a paper to the group before the conference for discussion at the conference, and round-tables. To lead a colloquy session, please submit a 250-300 word proposal outlining your topic of conversation and proposed format.

Staging sessions – Since 2019, we have invited submissions for early modern, non-Shakespeare plays to include in ASC’s production year. These 20 minute staging sessions are “competitive” opportunities for proposers to make the case for why their play should be performed on the Blackfriars stage at this time (in other words, why this play here and now). Sessions will be adjudicated by ASC artistic staff and the winning submission will secure their title’s inclusion in the artistic season for the following year. To lead a staging session, please submit a 250-300 word proposal that includes the play title and an outline of your argument.

Topics for consideration in any of the above formats might include:
  • Casting practice, rehearsal practice, performance practice
  • Evidence of practice in the extant plays or documents
  • Evidence of education or experience in plays or documents
  • Connections between texts (editorial, allusions, character symmetry, etc)
  • The status of ‘performance’ in early modern culture
  • Audiences and audience response
  • Props and costumes
  • Spaces of performance

Please submit your 250-300 word proposals by May 15, 2023 via the submission link: You may only present once, but may be considered for all three categories by submitting this form multiple times with the appropriate category selected. Proposals will be considered based on their alignment with the conference aims, their originality and scholarly interest, and their potential to contribute to a program representative of the diverse constituencies served by the ASC. Presenters will receive notification by August 1, when registration opens.

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