Newness and Global Theatre: Between Commodification and Artistic Necessity

Organisers: BITEF, Belgrade, The International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC)

And its e-journal Critical Stages/Scènes critiques

Belgrade, 27th and 28th September 2016

Newness is generally defined as the condition of being new, novel, cutting-edge. As the opposite of oldness, it implies recentness, freshness, innovativeness, present-dayness. There is no end to the words that could be used to indicate originality, novelty, unfamiliarity. Some are antagonistic, others tendentious, combative, others more compromising etc. What they all share, however, is elusiveness, a trait associated with the history and ontology of theatre itself.

As an art form, theatre has always been a battlefield of newness. Some scholars regard theatrical modernity as the age of newness. And rightly so. The changes that took place in the wake of European industrialization favored an analogous reshuffling of the world of theatre and performance. Especially the first quarter of the twentieth century was a period of extraordinary artistic innovation, which came to an end in the late 1920s, with the economic crash and the change in the sociopolitical climate generated by the rise of fascism and the catastrophes of WWII, only to be revitalized later on in the 1960s and 1970s. The emergence of the post-industrial Information Society has caused fundamental transformations, as we can see, with consequences as far-(if not farther) reaching as those of the Industrial Revolution.

If the hybridization of cultures and identities is the norm rather than the exception, then how does newness relate to cultural particularities and localities? How does the entanglement of theatre in the politics of colonialism allow us to re-theorize the concept of newness and its performative potential? Does our culturally diverse understanding of newness in theatre ultimately lead to a transnational conception of newness, thus turning the sites of artistic innovation into sites of unacknowledged negotiation?

In a globalized and commercialized art culture, in which power structures and domination strategies set the rules of the game, this conference will address the dichotomy between innovative art and plain commercialism.

By integrating the above questions, we do not expect to end the debates over the mantle of newness, but rather to initiate a larger reconsideration of contemporary theatre/performance, across the spectrum of individual needs, national cultures and,not least, global economies.

Organizing committee:

Savas Patsalidis (Chairman), Editor-In-Chief of Critical Stages/Scènes critiques (IATC), Greece; Margareta Sörenson, President of IATC, Sweden; Octavian Saiu, Adjunct Secretary General of IATC, Romania

SEPTEMBER 27th, 2016

OPENING SESSION (09:30-11:45)

CHAIR: Savas Patsalidis and Ivan Medenica


OPENING SPEECHES: Erika Fischer Lichte (Germany) and Georges Banu (France/Romania)


COFFEE BREAK (11:45-12:00)


Reflecting on newness (12:00-13:45)

CHAIR: Savas Patsalidis and Ivan Medenica

1. Jean-Pierre Han: L’avant-garde toujours avalé par la bourgeoisie/classe libérale (France)

2. Daniele Avila Small: Newness as an Eurocentric concept (Brazil)

3. Ayse Draz: Documents of Performance Art as Secondary Art Objects (Turkey)

4. Aleksandra Jovićević: The Heritage of Brecht and Adorno (Serbia/Italy)



SEPTEMBER 28th, 2016

SESSION 2. The Politics of Newness (10:00-11:45)

CHAIR: Margareta Sörenson

1.Manabu Noda: Oblivion – the 70th Anniversary of WW2, What is forgotten and How? (Japan)

2. Katayoun H. Salmasi: The Decline of Traditional Arts in Iran, the Pre-islamic Wiped out (Iran/USA)

3. Irina Gogobéridzé: Novelty is Never a Global Negation. Theatre Never Waited for Godot (Georgia)




SESSION 3. Problematics of Newness (12:00-13:00)

CHAIR: Margareta Sörenson

1. Michel Vaïs: Nouveauté, attentes et risque (Quebec/Canada)

2. Duška Radosavljević: Theatre Criticism: Changing Landscapes (England)

3.Lamice El-Amari: Art Festivals Curse or Bliss, Commercialism/Originality (Iraq/Germany)




SESSION 4. National re-definitions(14:30-15:45)

CHAIR: Octavian Saiu

1. Irina Ionescu: New Performing Vocabulary in Romania, Professional Criticism (Romania)

2.Emmanuel Dandaura: Of Landmines and Pathways: Interrogating New Approaches to Theatre Making in Nigeria (Nigeria)

3. Deepa Punjani: Newness in India in Context: New Experiences, Case Studies (India)




SESSION 5. Re-Newing the Old (16:00-17:30)

CHAIR: Octavian Saiu

1. Jeffrey Eric Jenkins: Hamilton – The Hiphop Musical – Old is New, New is Old (USA)

2. Edite Lescinska: Reconstruction of the Opera (Latvia)

3. Grigoris Ioannidis. “Happy Newness that Intends Old Right”: The New Generation of Greek Theatre Towards Pocket-Shakespeare Performances (Greece)



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