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Joint International Federation for Theatre Research Regional Conference (IFTR-Asia) and Asian Theatre Working Group Colloquium 2018

A growing interest in the body as a starting point of discourse is seen in the past decades. Even theatre studies has been involved on scrutinising the body as an important performance aspect. In Western theatre practice, physical theatre is a well-articulated practical approach for understanding the body vis-à-vis theatre and performance. However, the increasing number of the most influential theorizations and conceptualizations has primarily, if not exclusively, focused on how the cultures in the West (Europe and the Americas) conceive it.

Taking the cue from Bryan Turner and Zheng Yangwen, it is important to note that peoples in Asia have experienced colonisation, decolonization and now globalisation albeit different modalities. These contexts, as suggested by Turner and Zheng, are important socio-political and historical factors for understanding the Asian body. With this, Bodies in/and Asian Theatres is envisioned to contribute to the study of the body, particularly its functions and placements in the different performances in the Asian region.

On the occasion of Kat(h)awan [a contraction of katha (creative creation) and katawan (body)] or the celebration of the University of the Philippines Diliman Month 2018 vis-à-vis the National Arts Month in the Philippines in February, Bodies in/and Asian Theatres invokes the Asian bodies as creative and critical entities.

The Joint 2018 Asian Theatre Working Group Colloquium and International Federation for Theatre Research Regional Conference (IFTR-Asia) attempts to answer these general questions: What do we mean when we talk about bodies in Asian theatres and performances? What do we mean when we talk about Asian bodies in different performances outside the region? How does theatre affect the way we think about the bodies of Asians?

Possible sub-themes include but not limited to the following:

  • The Spectacularization of the Body in Asia (What does it mean when we think of the acrobatics in China, the thaipusam devotees in Malaysia and Singapore, ta’ziyeh devotees in the Middle East, the magdarame or self-flagellants in the Philippines as actors/performers? What is the implication of associating Asian rituals involving bodily spectacles or self-inflicted pains as theatre and performance?)
  • Performing Queer Asian Bodies (What does it mean to be an “Asian Queer” vis-à-vis theatre and performance? What is the relationship of the queer and the body in Asian performances?)
  • Performing Displaced Bodies (Issues on representing the Asian immigrant/emigrant in theatre and performance. What is the implication of being Asian in Euro-American theatre?)
  • Gendered Bodies. (What are the representations and ideologies of the masculine and feminine bodies in Asian Theatre and Performance? What does it mean when the masculine body is performed by a female body or vice versa?)
  • Asian Bodies Recuperated (Many theorizations in theatre, performance and cultural studies took inspiration from performing bodies of Asians, issues and implications of such theories in general critical thinking)
  • Disembodiments (What does it mean when a body is treated as a formless creature in Asian societies?)
  • The Body as Medium (When the body is treated as a “medium” in theatre and performance, what does it mediate?)
  • Asian Corporeality and/in Choreography (Body-centered performance practices in Asia also provide vital sites for exploring the convergence of thought and action)
  • The Asian Body as Method (Exploring the possibility of the body – the Asian body – in performance as a starting point of philosophising and intellectualising)

Dates to Remember:

Submission of Abstract 15 August 2017 to 15 September 2017

Notification of acceptance begins on 2 October 2017

Registration opens on 1 November 2017

Conference dates 20 – 23 February 2018

For inquiries, please contact Dr. Sir Anril Pineda TIATCO at For members of the Asian Theatre Working Group, please contact Dr. NAGATA Yasushi at