DAY 1 – Wednesday September 28th

Conference venue: Vooruit Arts Centre 

Cluster #1: Politics of Truth Commissions – Performances in Response to the TRC

While truth and reconciliation committees are concrete tools with a positive impact on democracy and human rights we must not forget that they are collective rituals that are constructed along coded actions. Contemporary performances insist on asking pertinent questions on the coded actions and the master narrative at work in truth and reconciliation commissions.

Chair: Christel Stalpaert (co-director S:PAM, Ghent University)

09.00 – 09.30: Registration + coffee

09.30 – 09.40: Welcome speech by the Head of the Department Art History, Musicology and Theatre Studies at Ghent University Francis Maes.

09.40 – 10.00: Introduction Organising Committee

10.00 – 11.00: Keynote Yvette Hutchison (University of Warwick): Unmuting citizenship – engaging audiences with disavowed gender and ability issues through physical theatre

11.15 – 13.00: Panel 1 (Chair: Frederik Le Roy, Ghent University)

The first panel investigates how theatre texts and theatre performances reveal the politics of truth commissions.

  • Klaas Tindemans (RITCS Brussels, University of Brussels): The performance of transitional justice
  • Marieke Breyne (Ghent University) + Sofie de Smet (Ghent University, KU Leuven): When the past strikes the present – performing requiems for the Marikana massacre

13.00 – 14.30: Lunch break

14.30 – 15.30: Keynote Alexandra Sutherland (Rhodes University): Theatres of incarceration and radical freedom

15.45 – 17.30: Panel 2 (Chair: Christel Stalpaert, Ghent University)

The second panel particularly deals with the persistent traumatic past in a contemporary, so-called post-apartheid context. Special attention is being paid to gender-related issues and how performances pose pertinent questions concerning these issues.

  • Pedzisai Maedza (University of Cape Town): The Hector Pieterson advert – “Live the dream the youth of ‘76’”

DAY 2 – Thursday September 29th

Conference venue: Vooruit Arts Centre (+ KASK/School of Arts Ghent)

Cluster #2: Performing Trauma: Postdramatic and Postnarrative Modes of Coping with Trauma

Recent theatre and performance studies developed an exponential interest in trauma and conflict and provide a valuable embodied perspective on what has been criticized as a disembodied dominant Western trauma regime underpinned by the assumption of a linear relationship between trauma narration and recovery. Special interest goes to the articulatory potential of postdramatic and postnarrative modes of coping with trauma that move beyond the structures of story-telling, narration and language.

Chair: Sofie de Smet (Ghent University – S:PAM; University of Leuven – Education, Culture & Society)

09.00 – 09.30: Welcome + coffee

09.30 – 10.30: Keynote Cécile Rousseau (McGill University)Playing with Fire: Theater Expression Workshops for Migrant and Refugee Adolescents 

10.45 – 12.30: Panel 1 (Chair: Stef Craps, Ghent University)

This panel investigates how text-based performances move beyond the linear relationship between trauma narration and recovery. Instead of providing a master-narrative to go by, these texts explore the articulatory potential of the absurd, of repetition, multiplicity and stuttering.

  • Lerato Machetela (University of the Free State): Intergenerational trauma in Jagersfontein
  • Piet Defraeye (University of Alberta): The performative (re?) iteration of genocide – Erik Ehn’s Maria Kizito and Sandeep Bhagwati’s Lamentations
  • Amelda Brand (University of Stellenbosch): Playing with heritage and identity: unraveling and re-knitting stories in the Cape Winelands.

12.30 – 14.00: Lunch break

14.00 – 15.00: Keynote Mark Fleishman (University of Cape Town): ‘Peeling the wound’. Dramaturgies of haunting on the neo-apartheid stage.

15.15 – 17.00: Panel 2 (Chair: Pieter Vermeulen, Ghent University)

This panel traces the traumatic emigratory experience in the visual arts and investigates how artists and performers display their notions of loss, displacement and (be)longing in images, moving beyond the rigid structure of language, words, and meanings.

  • Samah Hijawi (University of Brussels): Stories from the life of Layla (lecture-performance)
  • Christel Stalpaert (Ghent University) in conversation with Jelena Juresa (Basileus-scholar Ghent University and KASK/School of Arts)


DAY 3 – Friday September 30th

Conference venue: Arts Centre Vooruit, Ghent

Cluster #3: Performative Objects and Site-Specific Performativity

Recent theatre and performance studies developed an exponential interest in how ambivalent embodied entities such as masks, puppets or other ‘dead’ performative objects might be a site of critique, resistance or agency in communities coping with cultural traumas. Also, the site-specific performativity in performances dealing with trauma is taken into consideration.

Chair: Marieke Breyne (Ghent University – S:PAM)

09.00 – 09.30: Welcome + coffee

09.30 – 10.30: Keynote Matthias Warstat (Free University Berlin): From trauma to protest. Political theatre in comparison

10.45 – 12.30: Panel 1 (Chair: Dirk Van Gogh, KASK / School of Arts)

This panel traces the traumatic emigratory experience in the performing arts and investigates the particular transformative potential of corporeality and site-specificity.

  • Mandisi Sindo (Theatre4Change Therapeutic Theatre – T3, Cape Town)
  • Tim Zulauf (Bern University of the Arts): Narrating space – re-inscribing deviant memories
  • Kristof Van Gestel (KASK/School of Arts): An object or a tool? A shift in my practice as an artist

12.30 – 14.00: Lunch break

14.00 – 15.00: Keynote Jay Pather (GIPCA)Site, object and the disruption of form in representations of trauma 

15.15 – 17.00: Panel 2 (Chair: Petrus Du Preez, University of Stellenbosch)

This panel traces non-eventful forms of trauma, such as apartheid and racism, in the performing arts and investigates the particular transformative potential of masks, puppets and performative objects. Special interest in this panel also goes to the transformative power of the performer as a performative object, based on notions such as “the performer as site of resistance” (Bala 2007) and Erika Fischer Lichte’s suggestion “to reflect on the correlations between the concept of the presence of the performer and that of the ecstasy of things” (2008: 100).

  •  Estelle Olivier (University of Stellenbosch) on the transformative potential of masks, puppets and performative objects
  • Khanyisile Mbongwa (UNIMA SA, University of Cape Town) + Mike Tigere Mavura (Rhodes University): WE ARE THE BEAUTIFUL ONES. Negotiating legitimate and illegitimate spaces in Cape Town
  • Sethembile Msezane (performance artist, University of Cape Town)Statues, monuments and interventions

18.30 – 20.00: Closing event with drinks & finger food (at Zwarte Zaal, KASK / School of Arts)