Performing the World (PTW) is a cross-disciplinary gathering of practitioners and scholars from every continent. Participants include performers and performance scholars, psychologists and social workers, physicians and nurses, educators and youth workers, community organizers and activists, and all others for whom performance, play and the creative/expressive arts offer a new kind of tool in their human development, community building and humanitarian aid work. What performance activists, both at the grassroots and in the academy, are finding is this—when people are engaged in these kinds of activities, they are capable of creating new ways of relating, new ways of learning, new ways of seeing and feeling, new kinds of institutions—new possibilities of all sorts.
“I have always felt alien at conferences, but this time I was swooped into the centre by curious, adventurous and inclusive people. In fact I have a latent performer within, that got to go nuts a bit and that was great!”
The first PTW took place in 2001 in the eastern Long Island hamlet of Montauk. Since 2008, the conference has been held in New York City, with the assistance of hundreds of New Yorkers who offer participants a room or couch to sleep on for the length of the conference. In 2014, PTW involved over 400 people from 32 countries and 20 U.S. states. The ninth PTW conference, taking place September 23-25, 2016, is expected to exceed that.
PTW is a tool-and-result of the performance turn in approaches to human development, education, community development and social activism around the world. It brings together a wide range of individuals, organizations, cultures and approaches to create what for so many is a transformational learning-and-development experience. PTW not only provides the opportunity for participants to learn from and inspire each other, but also to create international networks and collaborations (overlapping zones of proximal development, or ZPDs). PTW is a unique environment, a place and activity where seasoned performance activists and those brand new to the performance phenomenon emerging around the world are equally at home.
“It really had a wonderful impact on me. I wish I could attend something like that every month. I experience it as a very political AND spiritual activity.”
PTW ’16 will take place September 23-25 in New York City. We chose the theme, Can We Perform Our Way To Power? as an invitation to explore such questions as, “How is power created?” and “What are the limitations and where are the opportunities for ordinary people to exercise power?” We received proposals from people whose work involves performance as an alternative modality to “knowing” and “authority,” from those who are trying out performatory approaches as an alternative tool for social justice and progressive political change, and from those who address through performance-based practice the social exclusion of particular groups and communities.
I look forward to three days of exploring, playing with, learning about and networking with these performance activists and sharing ways that performance can develop individuals and communities and generate power. I do hope you’ll join us.
And whether you’re able to come or not, you can participate by donating to the Indiegogo travel fund that will make it possible for others to participate. No donation is too small!