About Performance

About Performance is the refereed journal of the Department of Performance Studies, and is concerned in the broadest possible way with the phenomenon of performance and with the processes involved in its production and reception. We are interested in all genres of aesthetic performance and live art, as well as social/cultural performance, ritual, and a wide range of performative activity. The journal provides a forum for analysis, theorisation and critique by academic researchers and performance makers. We welcome articles that bring theoretical perspectives derived from other disciplines to bear on performance practice.

Each issue of About Performance is devoted to a single theme and the journal appears once a year. It is published by the Department of Performance Studies at the University of Sydney and is produced in print and online; articles are peer reviewed in accordance with DEST guidelines.

If you have suggestions for themes you would like to see treated in future issues please contact the Editor: .

How to Order

About Performance is distributed by Sydney University Press through their online e-store. To order digital or print copies of the journal go to http://purl.library.usyd.edu.au/sup/13246089.

About Performance costs AU$40 + P&H per copy.

To become a subscriber of About Performance, please email (with ‘About Performance Subscription’ in the subject line) with a contact name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, email and phone number. As a subscriber you automatically receive a print copy of each yearly issue sent to you with an invoice as soon as it is published in July.

Individual full-text articles from the journal can now also be digitally downloaded from journal aggregators Informit and the International Index to Performing Arts.


No. 13 High Stakes: Risk and Performance
Co-editors Paul Dwyer (University of Sydney) and Mary Ann Hunter (University of Tasmania)

Deadline for proposals: March 31 2013

For this issue of About Performance, we invite contributors to consider the different kinds of risk we negotiate in performance, the circumstances in which they arise, the degree to which they may be anticipated, minimized or manipulated for all they are worth. We seek, in particular, proposals that approach the notion of risk not simply in terms of ‘daring’ aesthetics but also in relation to lasting interpersonal and social consequences: How do people perform when the stakes are really high, when the pressure is really on, at that moment where things could go very, very wrong indeed? How might new times have disturbed practices we once thought to be safe? Or, conversely, what might the benefits of historical perspective or intercultural insight teach us about the parameters of risk in performance?

We also encourage potential contributors to engage, where relevant, with questions of methodology and epistemology: What risks might be involved in researching risk? What theoretical frameworks might offer the most ‘purchase’ when it comes to evaluating risk? Do we turn to Ulrich Beck’s theorization of the ‘risk society’ for guidance or the common sense of ‘the man on the Clapham omnibus’? The protocols of a University Human Research Ethics Committee or the ethics of Levinas? The forecasts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the track record of disaster capitalism? Theoretical innovation (including a mistrust of binary oppositions!) is welcomed.

Proposals (200-300 words) are invited for articles dealing with any of the above issues in relation to any genre of aesthetic performance or live art, social or cultural performance, ritual and other performance activity.

Articles are normally between 6,000 and 8,000 words. Please send your proposal by email to both editors for this issue, Dr Paul Dwyer and Dr Mary Ann Hunter , including a brief cover note giving your institutional affiliation, mailing and email addresses.

Proposals should be received by March 31st 2013 and we will notify you within a month as to whether the proposal has been accepted. The deadline for completed articles is end of October 2013. Articles are then submitted to a peer review process. Authors will have six weeks to address any recommendations for revision before final manuscripts are due at the end of January 2014. The journal will be published in May 2014.

Current Issue

No. 11: In-between Moves (editors Amanda Card and Justine Shih Pearson)
About Performance 11 is dedicated to writing about moving. These articles, collected under the subtitle In-Between Moves, explore movement in the spaces between: between bodies and other bodies, bodies and objects, bodies and places, bodies and time. They examine how being in these spaces can be conceptualised through ideas and experiences of motion.

  • Anurima Banerji "Dance and The Distributed Body: Odissi, Ritual Practice, and Mahari Performance"
  • William Peterson "Discipline and Pleasure:Dancing Inmates in Cebu’s Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center"
  • Yuji Sone "Between Machines and Humans: Reflexive Anthropomorphism in Japanese Robot Competitions"
  • Justine Shih Pearson "Choreographing the Airport: Travels in Thirdspace"
  • Kate Rossmanith "Learning the Lunge: Motility in Crocodile Country"
  • Sally Ann Ness "Talking to My Left Foot: Performative Moves In-Between Self and Landscape in Yosemite National Park"
  • Margaret Ames "Performing Between Intention and Unconscious Daily Gesture. How Might Disabled Dancers Offer Us a New Aesthetic Sensibility?"
  • Kélina Gotman "Epilepsy, Chorea, and Involuntary Movements Onstage: The Politics and Aesthetics of Alterkinetic Dance"
  • Maryrose Casey "Bungaree and the Grand Corroboree"

Back Issues (list of contents below)

From 1995 to 1998 (issues 1-4), About Performance was the house journal of the then Centre for Performance Studies, publishing work by academics, graduate students and artists associated with the Centre.

In 2006, the journal reinvented itself with assistance from the University Publishing Service, becoming fully refereed and, while maintaining the practice of publishing one themed issue per year, opened its pages to scholars and artists from around the country, and increasingly from overseas. Issues 6 and onwards are peer reviewed in accordance with DEST guidelines.

No. 10: Audiencing: the Work of the Spectator in Live Performance (Editors Gay McAuley and Laura Ginters)
Contemporary research into audiences is drawing on methodological approaches as diverse as phenomenology, cognitive science, semiotics, sociology, cultural studies, psychoanalysis and ethnography, among others, to engage with the historically under-examined, yet highly complex, field of spectatorial practice. The essays in this issue explore aspects of spectatorship across a range of performance practices, and contemplate its significance, not only in the experience shared by performer and spectator, but also often continuing long past that moment.


  • Laura Ginters “On Audiencing: the Work of the Spectator in Live Performance”
  • Matthew Reason “Asking the Audience: Audience Research and the Experience of Theatre”
  • Heather Lilley “Vital Contact: Creating Interpretive Communities in a Moment of Theatrical Reception”
  • Richard Ralley and Roy Connolly “In Front of Our Eyes: Presence and the Cognitive Audience”
  • Stuart Grant “Fifteen Theses on Transcendental Intersubjective Audience”
  • Kath Bicknell “Feeling them Ride: Corporeal Exchange in Cross-Country Mountain Bike Racing”
  • Glenn McGillivray “Pleasure out of Suffering: Negotiating Material Reality Through Fetishism and Disavowal in Food Court”
  • Sylvain Duguay “Suspended Selves: Illusion and Transcendence in the Shows of Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon”
  • Fiona Fearon “Decoding the Audience: a Theoretical Paradigm for the Analysis of the ‘Real’ Audience and their Creation of Meaning”
  • Bree Hadley, Genevieve Trace and Sarah Winter “Uncertainties that Matter: Risk, Response-ability, Ethics and the Moment of Exchange in Live Art”
  • Gabriella Calchi Novati “Spectator On Duty: Teatro del Lemming’s ‘Audiencing Trouble’”
  • Anthony Jackson “Visitors Becoming Audiences: Negotiating Spectatorship in Museum Performance”
  • Jonathan Lewis “The Theatregoer’s Epiphany: Becoming a Theatregoer”
    Mark Hobart “Rich Kids Can’t Cry: Reflections on the Viewing Subject in Bali”
  • Marie-Madeleine Mervant-Roux “The Great Resonator: What Historical Anthropology and an Ethnographic Approach to the Auditorium Tell Us About Audiences”
  • Willmar Sauter “Thirty Years of Reception Studies: Empirical, Methodological and Theoretical Advances”

No. 9 (2009): Playing Politics: Performance, Community and Social Change (Editors Paul Dwyer and Gay McAuley)
Analyses of performance works and descriptions of long-term social and cultural engagement with local communities constitute a sustained reflection on, and critique of, the ways in which the intersections between performance and politics have been conventionally theorised in Performance Studies scholarship.


  • Paul Dwyer “Recasting the Political in Performance: an Introduction to Recent Critical Trends”
  • Peter Snow, Maryrose Casey, Stuart Grant “Do Theories and Events Deliver: a Tripartite Meditation on Social Dramaturgy”
  • Gay McAuley “Unsettled Country: Coming to Terms with the Past”
  • Rand Hazou “Refugee Advocacy and the Theatre of Inclusion”
  • Kerrie Schaefer “Staging Encounters with the Radically Absent(ed): the Politics and Ethics of Performance in Some Recent Examples of UK-Based Art and Theatre About Forced Migration and Asylum”
  • Matt Jennings “Playing Your Role: Identity and Community-Based Performance in Contemporary Northern Ireland”
  • Alexandra Kolb “Theatricalising Terrorism: Johann Kresnik’s Ulrike Meinhof and the Red Army Faction”
  • Baz Kershaw “Biopoligraphy”
  • Paul Dwyer and Liza-Mare Syron “Protocols of Engagement: ‘Community Cultural Development’ Encounters an Urban Aboriginal Experience”
  • Hilary Halba “Creating Images and Telling Stories: Decolonising Performing Arts and Image-Based Research in Aotearoa/New Zealand”
  • Adam J. Ledger “The People of Ritual: Odin Teatret’s ‘Festuge’”
  • Ian Watson “Fundacja Pogranicza: Performance and the Polish Borderlands”

No. 8 (2008): Still/Moving: Photography and Live Performance (Editor Gay McAuley)
Scholars and artists based in Australia, the UK and the USA engage with the inter-relationship of photography and live performance, considering photographs of historical performance, historical photographs, photographs that document performance, photographs that form part of performances and photographs that facilitate subsequent reflections about performance by the practitioners themselves.


  • Gay McAuley "Photography and Live Performance: Introduction"
  • Anne Marsh “Performance Art and its Documentation: A Photo/Video Essay"
  • Glen McGillivray "Still. Not Seen: The Hidden Archive of Performance"
  • Heidrun Lohr with Gay McAuley “A Duet Between Performer and Photographer: A Photo Essay"
  • Petra Kuppers with Aimee Meredith Cox, Jim Ferris, Alison Kafer, Neil Marcus, Nora Simonhjell, Lisa Steichman and Sadie Wilcox "Oracular Practice, Crip Bodies and the Poetry of Collaboration: A Meditation"
  • Ralph Fisher "Capturing Absence: Walking Performance and Photography"
  • Amy Simpson "Craving the Whole Essence: The Photograph as Document, Artwork and Framework in the Theatre of Vs. E. Meyerhold"
  • William Yang and Jacqueline Lo "Image and Performance"
  • Paul Dwyer "Theatre as Post-Operative Follow-Up: The Bougainville Photoplay Project"
  • Joel Anderson "Theatrical Photography, Photographic Theatre and the Still: The Phtoography of Sophie Moscoso and the Théâtre du Soleil"
  • Jonathan Marshall “Pathos, Pathology and the Still-Mobile Image: A Warburgian Reading of Held by Garry Stewart and Lois Greenfield"
  • Wiebke Leister "Performaing Laughter: Duchenne's Smile in the Light of Photographic Practice"

No.7 (2007): Local Acts: Site-Based Performance Practice (Editor Gay McAuley)
Theoretical reflections on, and analysis of, site-based and site-specific performances in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The work documented here constitutes an important element in the intellectual movement seeking deeper understanding of the spatialised nature of human culture.


  • Gay McAuley "Introduction"
  • Mike Pearson "It came apart in my hands: Reflections on Polis by Pearson/Brooks"
  • Fiona Wilkie "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards": Performance, Site and Remembering"
  • Mark Minchinton and Domenico de Clario "Kellerberrin on our Minds"
  • Maryrose Casey "Carnivalising Soveriegnty: Containing Indigenous Protest Within the 'White' Australian Nation"
  • Elizabeth Dempster "Welcome to Country: Performing Rights and the Pedagogy of Place"
  • Paul Brown and Xanthe-Rose Crittenden "Nature Moves Centre Stage: Eco-Centrism in Community Theatre"
  • Kerrie Schaefer and David Watt "Not Going Quietly: the Royal On The Move Procession. Place, History, Memory and Community-Based Performance"
  • Lisa Warrington "Playing With Fire. Staging Lines of Fire: a Site-Specific Project"
  • Mary Elizabeth Anderson "Engrounded: a Developing Theory of Site-Based Performance in the Context of Cognitive Linguistics"
  • Kate Lawrence "St Catherine's Chapel Pilgrimage: a Guide"
  • Michael Cohen "Tracing New Absences: Events for Place-Making and Place-Faking"

No. 6 (2006): Rehearsal and Performance Making Processes (Editor Gay McAuley)
This issue is a contribution to the emerging sub-discipline of rehearsal studies and it focuses on accounts by both performance practitioners and academic observers of the creative process involved in performance making. The performance genres discussed include classic text-based theatre, group devised, and physical performance, as well as consideration of rehearsal practices in the past that can be deduced from textual and other traces.


  • Rachael Swain "Telling That Story: The Marrugeku Company's Creative Process in Western Arnhem Land"
  • Peter Snow "Ovid in the Torres Straits: Making a Performance from The Metamorphoses"
  • Laura Ginters "And there we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously: The Lengths they go to in the Rehearsal Room"
  • Kate Rossmanith "Feeling the Right Impulse: 'Professionalism' and the Affective Dimension of Rehearsal Practice"
  • Paul Moore "Rehearsal and the Actor: Practicalities, Ideals and Compromise"
  • D Ohlandt-Ross "Rehearsal as Cartography: Some Challenges for Metaphor and Practce"
  • Tim Fitzpatrick "Performance Preparation Processes and their Textual Reconstruction"

No. 5 (2003): Body Weather in Central Australia (Editor Gay McAuley)
Issue devoted to Tess de Quincey’s TripleAlice project that took place over a 3-year period at Hamilton Downs in Central Australia from 1999 to 2001. Each of the three laboratories was facilitated and documented by staff and students from the Department of Performance Studies, and the issue contains essays and other artworks by participants and observers, casebooks and a photo-essay.


  • Gay McAuley “Introduction”
  • Kristina Harrison “From Observer to Participant: Reflections on the Triple Alice Experience”
  • Tess de Quincey “Burning Point: Overview Description of Triple Alice”
  • Martin Harrison “Edge, Desert, Reticulation, Information”
  • Sarah Dunn “Triple Alice 1: A Participant’s Perspective”
  • Peter Snow “P4: Performance Making in Alice”
  • Ian Maxwell “Access All Areas: Reflections on Triple Alice 1”
  • Stuart Grant “How to Say (Roughly...Very Roughly) What Sort of a Thing a Triple Alice 3 Is, Having Attended One”
  • Julia White “Drawings and Texts”
  • Martin Harrison “Sky Hammer”
  • Russell Emerson, Gay McAuley, Garry Seabrook “Body Weather at Hamilton Downs: a Photo Essay”

No. 4 (1998): Performance Analysis (Editor Gay McAuley)
Theory and practice of performance analysis, seen as an attempt to come to terms with the semiotic density of the performance event, to describe it carefully, to explore the meanings that it creates and communicates, and to gain insight into the means whereby this occurs.


  • Jacqueline Martin "Towards a Methodology for Analysis Hybrid Arts Performance"
  • Peter Snow "How Performances Endure Over Time"
  • Kerrie Schaefer "Analysing Contemporary Performance: the Case of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"
  • Yana Taylor "About Time in Performance and Analysis: Streams of Time in Burying Mother"
  • Kate Rossmanith "Burn This: Paul Barry Playing Jimmy 'Pale'"
  • Laura Ginters "Robert Wilson’s Dantons Tod at the Berliner Ensemble"
  • Ian Maxwell "Football Is Not Theatre"
  • Tracey Schramm and Gay McAuley "The Gravity of Dante: A Photo Essay"

No. 3 (1997): Theatre as Performance (Editors Ian Maxwell and Lowell Lewis)
A selection of papers presented at the Centre’s postgraduate seminar in 1997, a report on the year’s workshops and performance projects and the way they relate to both teaching and research, and a summary of proceedings of the Theatre Matters conference hosted by the Centre.


  • J. Lowell Lewis and Ian Maxwell "Introduction"
  • Laura Ginters "Special events at the Centre for Performance Studies 1997"
  • Various "Report on Teaching"
  • Post-Graduate Research Seminar
  • o Laura Ginters "Introduction"
    o Kate Rossmanith "Rehearsal Observation: The New Theatre’s 1997 The Season at Sarsaparilla"
    o Mary Adams "In her Own (W)right: Alter/Native Performance"
    o Paul Dwyer "The Forum Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings"
    o Laura Ginters “So this is Heaven? I didn’t think there’d be so many blackfellas here”
    o Russell Emerson "Computer Imaging of Theatre Spaces. Representing the Empty Space: Software as Design Tool"
  • Forum Proceedings: ‘Theatre Matters’
  • o Ian Maxwell "Foreword"
    o Ian Maxwell "Why ‘Theatre Matters’"
    o Ross Gibson Keynote Address: "Models of Comportment"
    o Discussion
    o Chris Mead "Cruel are the Times"
    o Discussion
    o Anna Broinowski "Why Did the Actor Cross the Road?"
    o Discussion
    o Cameron Tonkin "Sustaining Theatre: Theatre and Sustainability"
    o Discussion
    o Wrap Up

    No. 2 (1996): Performances East/West (Editors Tony Day and Paul Dowsey-Magog)
    Multiple perspectives on the work in Asian and cross-cultural performance practice occurring in courses, workshops, master classes and research projects at the Centre over the preceding decade.


    • Tony Day and Paul Dowsey-Magog "Introduction"
    • Keiji Sawada "Australian Theatre and Japanese Theatre: An Introduction to a Comparative Study"
    • Michael Cohen "Châo Vietnam: Corporate Colonialism in a Lunchbox"
    • Damien Millar "Their Grotesque Opposites”
    • Sarah Dunn "Cross Cultural Productions: Peter Brook and the Mahabharata"
    • Chris Murphy "Operation Hypothesis: Tadashi Suzuki’s ‘Toil and Trouble’ tour, Australia 1992"
    • Michael Cohen "Seventeen Stories about Interculturalism and Tadashi Suzuki"
    • Sally Sussman and Tony Day "Orientalia, Orientalism, and the Peking Opera Artist as 'Subject' in Contemporary Australian Performance"
    • Damien Millar "'The Restrained Passion of You Both': A short essay on the film Nji Ronggeng"
    • Sarah Weiss "Rules or Rasa: Aesthetics and Gender in the Performance of Central Javanese Wayang"
    • Tony Day "Performances of East Javanese Wayang and the Possibility of 'Internal Otherness' in Contemporary Java"
    • "Wayang Round Table"

    No. 1 (1995): Translation and Performance (Editor Tim Fitzpatrick)
    Articles arising from teaching and research projects funded by CPS in 1993, designed to facilitate study of the way theatre practitioners work with translated texts, and of the difference that different translation choices make in the performance outcomes.


    • Gay McAuley "Introduction"
    • May-Brit Akerholt "The Text, the Whole Text, and Nothing but the Text in Translation"
    • Tim Fitzpatrick and Ksenia Sawczak "Accidental Death of a Translator: the Difficult Case of Dario Fo"
    • Frances Muecke "Translation and Theatrical Space: the Antigone Experiment"
    • Rhys McConnochie "Three Antigone Plays"
    • Jonathan Bollen "Laughing at the Difference: Theories of Translation in Rehearsal"
    • Penny Gay "Shakespeare in Translation: the Trial Scene in The Merchant of Venice"
    • David Attrill "Translation for the Non-Translator/Performer"
    • Peter Snow "Situation Vacant: Lines of Flight and the Schizo-Potential for Revolution"
    • Laura Ginters "From Georg Buchner's Dantons Tod to SUDS' Danton's Death"
    • Kristine Cala "Pluie Oblique: A Case Study"
    • Gay McAuley "Translation in the Performance Process"

    Editorial Committees

    International Advisory Editors
    Christopher Balme (University of Munich)
    Jennifer Lindsay (Australian National University)
    Jon McKenzie (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
    Mike Pearson (University of Wales Aberystwyth)
    Alan Read (Kings College London)
    Janelle Reinelt (University of Warwick)
    Ian Watson (Rutgers University)
    Takahashi Yuichiro (Dokkyo University, Japan)

    Editorial Panel
    Jonathan Bollen (Flinders University)
    Tom Burvill (Macquarie University)
    Maryrose Casey (Monash University)
    Michael Cohen (Theatre Kantanka)
    Peter Eckersall (University of Melbourne)
    Michael Eigtved (University of Copenhagen)
    Rachel Fensham (University of Surrey)
    Jane Goodall (University of Western Sydney)
    Helen Gilbert (Royal Holloway College, University of London)
    Helena Grehan (Murdoch University)
    Julie Holledge (Flinders University)
    Mary Ann Hunter (Freelance consultant and artsworker)
    Jacqueline Lo (Australian National University)
    Tom McGuire (University of Ulster)
    Mark Minchinton (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)
    Sophie Nield (Royal Holloway College, University of London)
    Maggi Phillips (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts)
    Paul Rae (National University of Singapore)
    Nicholas Ridout (Queen Mary College, University of London)
    Kate Rossmanith (Macquarie University)
    Kerrie Schaefer (Exeter University)
    Edward Scheer (University of NSW)
    Peter Snow (Monash University)
    Peta Tait (La Trobe University)
    Joanne Tompkins (Queensland University)

    Executive Committee
    Amanda Card, Paul Dwyer, Laura Ginters, Daniel Johnston, Lowell Lewis, Ian Maxwell, Gay McAuley, Glen McGillivray (Department of Performance Studies, The University of Sydney)

    Other publications

    Flesh Winnow
    Barbara Campbell

    Flesh Winnow is a collection of essays, edited by Laura Ginters and Barbara Campbell to mark Barbara's retrospective exhibition "Six Performances 1997-2001: The University of Sydney".


    • Sarah Miller "Introduction: Flesh Winnow and the Rhetoric of the Pose"
    • Joan Kerr "Performing Art History"
    • Mary Roberts "Inhabiting Tradition: Inflorescent"
    • Anne Brennan "Life, Still: Sécateur"
    • Joan Grounds "Retelling: Remanence"
    • Ian Maxwell "Retrospecting: The Midday Movie and the History of Australian Painting"
    • Clare Grant "What's Left: Cloche"

    published by:
    52pp., colour illustrations
    AU$10 (incl GST) + $3 p&h

    available from:
    Department of Performance Studies, The University of Sydney
    Contact for more information.