Philosophische Fakultät, Seminar für Literaturwissenschaft, Forschung

Theater & Community: Poetics, Politics, Performances (CDE 2023)

8. Jun 2023 - 11. Jun 2023
Augustinerkloster Erfurt
Deutsche Gesellschaft für zeitgenössische Dramatik in englischer Sprache
Nassim Winnie Balestrini, Sabrina Mahfouz, Mary Kathryn Nagle, Tavia Nyong’o, Martin Middeke and others
Event type
Event Language(s)

31st Annual Conference of the German Society for Contemporary Drama in English. The conference, organized by Dr. habil. Johanna Hartmann (MLU Halle-Wittenberg) and Prof. Dr. Ilka Saal (University of Erfurt), takes place in Erfurt and also has hybrid components.

This year’s conference topic builds on the observation that recent political and epidemiological events, social, economic, and environmental developments, and even epistemic trends index an increasing polarization within and between nations, cultures, and people, both regionally and globally. The interdisciplinary conference “Theater & Community: Poetics, Politics, and Performances” takes these crises and the urgency to solve them as a point of departure and enquires about the role theater and drama can play in re/building consensus and negotiating common ground. In other words: In what ways can dramatic performances obtain the basic agreement on a sense of commonality and mutual interest required for social cohesion and collective action?

The conference fosters international and interdisciplinary conversations on this topic by bringing together scholars, artists, and theater practitioners from around the world. The conference’s PhD forum, moreover, fosters cross-generational dialogue between early-career and experienced researchers.


Thursday, 8 June

9 am – 1 pm

  • Ph.D. Forum @ IBZ Uni Erfurt, Michaelisstraße 38 (closed event)
  • Opening Remarks & Moderation: Martin Middeke (Universität Augsburg) and Clare Wallace (Univerzita Karlova)
    • Nina De Bettin Padolin (Karl-Franzens Universität Graz)
    • Sarah Busch (Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg)
    • Ondřej Polák (Univerzita Karlova)
    • Valeria Sabitova (Univerzita Karlova)
    • Lina Stücker (Universität Münster)
    • Jade Thomas (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
    • Eszter Vass (Universität Konstanz)

1.30 pm: Ph.D. Forum lunch @ Peckham’s, Pergamentergasse 11

3 – 4.30 pm: Board Meeting @ IBZ Uni Erfurt, Michaelisstraße 38

2 – 4.30 pm: Arrival & Registration @ Augustinerkloster, Augustinerstraße 10

5 – 7 pm:

  • Welcome & Opening Remarks by Ute Berns (Universität Hamburg), Johanna Hartmann (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg) and  Ilka Saal (Universität Erfurt)
  • Keynote 1: Mary Kathryn Nagle (New York): Indigenous Sovereignty and Female Activism

7 pm: Reception

Friday, 9 June

9 – 10.15 am: Keynote 2: Nassim Balestrini (Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz): Sensing a Twenty-First-Century Commons in the Theater: Relationality in a Climate of Distrust and Destruction


10.30 – 12 noon: Panel I: Theater, Public Sphere, Audiences

  • Julia Rössler (Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt): Testimony, Amateurism, and the Public Sphere in Documentary Theater
  • Ondřej Pilný (Univerzita Karlova): Community and Manipulation in the ‘Parallel Worlds’ of Tim Crouch
  • Cyrielle Garson (Avignon Université): The Promises and Pitfalls of Post-Pandemic VR Theatre in North America

12 noon – 1 pm: Lunch

1 – 2.15 pm: Keynote 3: Martin Middeke (Universität Augsburg): Inoperative Communities in 21st-century Theater

Coffee Break

2.30 – 3.30 pm: Panel II: Crip and Queer Communities

  • Heidi Lucja Liedke (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt): The Politics of Queer Belonging and Utopian Performatives in Peter McMaster’s A Sea of Troubles and Split Britches’s ‘Zoomie’ Last Gasp
  • Liselle Terret (University of East London): Crip and Queer Ethics of Care: Not F**kin’ Sorry

3.45 – 5.45 pm: CDE Members’ Assembly, Elections

6 -7.30 pm: Guided Walking Tour through historic old town OR Decolonize Erfurt Tour

Saturday, 10 June

9 – 10.15 am: Keynote 4: Tavia Nyong’o (Yale University): The Racial Reckoning in Art and Performance


10.30 – 12 noon: Panel III: Performative Interventions in Racial Formations

  • Annette J. Saddik (City University of New York): Performing Community through the Comic Grotesque in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Neighbors
  • Jade Thomas (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): Allegory, Morality, Community? The Political Functions of Metatheatrical Strategies in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Everybody
  • Frank Obenland (Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz): Theatrical Performances as Collective Experiences in Contemporary Plays by African American Women

12 noon – 1 pm: Lunch

1 – 2 pm: Panel IV: Singularity and Plurality

  • Dorothee Birke (Universität Innsbruck) and Janine Hauthal (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): The Poetics and Politics of We-Narration on the Contemporary British Stage
  • Mona Becker (Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg): Singularity and Solidarity in Slavoj Žižek’s Antigone

3 pm: Optional Visit of Theater Waidspeicher Erfurt: Premiere of Der Tapfere Zinnsoldat (The Steadfast Tin Soldier), puppet performance based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Individual Dinners/Beer Garden

Sunday, 11 June

8.30 – 9.45 am: Keynote 5: Sabrina Mahfouz (Los Angeles): Rewriting the Margins: On Gendered and Ethnic Belonging in Contemporary British Drama


10 – 11.30: Panel V: Community, Precarity, Resistance

  • Amy Terry (Royal Holloway London): Working Class Anger, Breaking Community, and Creating Coalition in Scottee’s Bravado and Class
  • Elizabeth Tomlin (University of Glasgow): Subversion and Resistance in Representations of Working-Class Subjects
  • Trish Reid (University of Reading): Coalitions of Vulnerability in Recent British Drama

Coffee Break

11.45 – 12.45 pm: Panel VI: Rethinking Community

  • Kerstin Schmidt (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität): Un/Common Ground in a Shared Space: What it Means to be Human in Current Theatrical Practice
  • David Savran (The Graduate Center, City University New York): Identity Politics as Lingua Franca?

Conference Closing Remarks

1 – 2 pm: Lunch

2 pm: Departure



Interested parties can contact Prof. Dr. Ilka Saal by e-mail; participation in selected program points is also possible.

write email to Prof. Dr. Ilka Saal
Professor of American Literature
(Literary Studies)
Mitarbeitergebäude 1 / room 618