DEADLINE EXTENDED — CFP: Performing Medievalism: Tricks, Tips and Tropes from Early Artistic Practice for the Modern-Day Performer 

The residual influence of the medieval is visible in today’s performance practice in various ways, yet this inheritance is perhaps not valued as highly as it might be, and oftentimes goes entirely unnoticed. Although there has been a soaring in popularity of medievalesque fantasy films and television shows such as The Witcher or Game of Thrones in recent years, as well as a renewal of interest in historical fiction based in the medieval period with television shows such as The Vikings and The White Queen, there are still significant gaps in the understanding and appreciation of the multiple ways in which the medieval has residual impact on creative performance practices today. What associations do the words ‘medieval’ and ‘Middle Ages’ trigger for those working within a performance context? How are performers currently engaging with the medieval, whether purposefully or subconsciously? What might enhanced knowledge of medieval influences offer performers today in practical terms? 

This volume seeks to illuminate the extensive and diverse ways in which the medieval interweaves with, and provides inspiration to, the modern in a wide variety of performance practice, by providing both critical and artistic analysis of the varying forms of medievalism in today’s theatre, dance, music, or television/film performances, as well as practical direction for modern-day performers looking to actively engage with early performance materials (in music, theatre, dance, etc) or to incorporate early tropes and structures into the creation of new medievally-inspired work. This is not limited to working with medieval themes or historical stories but also includes styles of storytelling which hearken back to early forms; many theatre techniques that are becoming popular again today have their roots in the early theatre of the medieval period, from audience participation and immersion to non-linear theatre experiences, as well as genre-busting combinations of theatre with installation, experimental technologies, and performance art. 

The volume invites contributors to actively engage with current creative ideas and artistic practices that relate to or are inspired by the medieval, whether through detailing specific projects, offering tips for modern performers and practitioners when engaging with medieval texts, or commenting on recent performances that draw on medieval tropes or utilise medieval materials. It interrogates the ways in which performers and performance practices variously approach the medieval today: as obscure or primitive, as interesting but distant oddity, or as a worthy and relevant source of inspiration and creative material. It offers a critical appraisal that challenges, provokes, and disrupts ideas around the medieval-as-primitive and the modern-as-innovative, offering both scholarly and practitioner perspectives to provide a useful and in-depth look at the way in which the medieval resurfaces in performance practices of all kinds today. 

Offerings on music, theatre, storytelling, dance or any artistic performance practice are welcome, for critical and scholarly articles of 8,000-10,000 words in length, documentations of performer training/approaches of 4,000-8,000 words (e.g., interviews, performance reviews, documentation of artistic processes), and shorter pieces of 1,500-3,000 words (e.g., artist’s notes). (These word count ranges are inclusive of notes and references.)

Contributions may address, but are not limited to: 

  • The medieval in modern storytelling e.g. medieval tropes and how they’re utilised; 
  • “Artist’s notes” style essays on own medievally-rooted artistic projects; 
  • Skill and training of medieval performers; 
  • Approaching medieval materials: tips for actors/musicians/dancers; 
  • Approaching contemporary artistic performance practices (acting, storytelling, dancing, performing music etc) via a medieval lens; 
  • Analysis of acting/performances of medieval historical fiction in television, theatre, film; 
  • Tracing medievalisms in the performance of modern fantasy characters; 
  • Intersectional feminist perspectives on medieval performance practice; 
  • Critical appraisement of modern performances of medieval plays/music/stories/other material (e.g. Chester Mystery Plays, Sheffield Mysteries, Everyman (NT), Lincoln Mystery Plays); 
  • Material culture and medieval performance practice; 
  • Medieval performance and the archive (e.g. analysis of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection’s Medieval Players archive; York Mystery Plays archive; Poculi Ludique Societas (https://pls.artsci.utoronto.ca/); performances associated with REED-NE (Durham); analysis of personal archives relating to own artistic practice; etc). 

Please send abstracts of up to 400 words along with a short (c. 100 word) biography to Ellie Chadwick and Ollie Jones at e.chadwick@bristol.ac.uk and oliver.jones@york.ac.uk. Deadline: 31st March 2022. 

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