Collective Trauma and Contemporary Crisis in performances of Ancient Tragedies

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 10:00am to 5:00pm

Co-organised by Estelle Baudou (APGRD, University of Oxford) and Silke Felber (University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna).

Numerous artists are currently recalling ancient materials in their reflections on war, terror, anthropocene, financial and health crises. Ancient drama seems to be an adequate foil for representing the pain and fragmentation of post-traumatic memories. This event will challenge the notion that trauma is unrepresentable by examining the performance of trauma on contemporary stages: how do performing artists acknowledge contemporary crises and perform the impact of these crises on groups and individuals while using ancient materials?

The event will consist of two roundtable discussions with scholars and performing practitioners, both preceded by a pre-recorded conversation with distinguished artists (Peter Sellars / Ian Rickson and Kae Tempest). The first roundtable discussion is titled ‘Mediatisation and Performability of Collective Trauma’, and the second will be ‘Bodily Response to Crises: Performing the Spread of Collective Trauma’. The conference be streamed on the APGRD YouTube Channel; the roundtable discussions will include questions from the audience.

Event Recordings

A recording of the full conference has been archived and can be viewed on request and in person at the APGRD. See the Visit Us page to arrange an appointment.

The two pre-recorded interviews with Peter Sellars and with Ian Rickson and Kae Tempest are available to watch on the APGRD's YouTube channel:

Screenshot of Peter Sellars, linking to YouTubeScreenshot of Ian Rickson and Kae Tempest, linking to YouTube




Programme (all times BST / UTC+1)

10.00-10.15am: Introduction by Estelle Baudou (Oxford) and Silke Felber (Vienna)

10.15-11.30am: Pre-recorded interview with Peter Sellars (theatre director)


11.45-1pm: Roundtable discussion: ‘Mediatization and Performability of Collective Trauma’ with:

  • Clare Finburgh-Delijani (Professor in Theatre and Performance, Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Justine McConnell (Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature, KCL)
  • Angeliki Poulou (Curator and Lecturer in Performing Arts & New Media, Department of Digital Arts & Cinema, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)


2.15-3.00pm: Pre-recorded interview with Ian Rickson (theatre director) and Kae Tempest (playwright)


3.15-4.30pm: Roundtable discussion: ‘Bodily Response to Crises: Performing the Spread of Collective Trauma’ with:

  • Marie-Louise Crawley (Assistant Professor in Dance and Cultural Engagement, C-DaRE (Centre for Dance Research), Coventry University)
  • Helene Foley (Professor of Classics, Columbia)
  • Struan Leslie (Director, Dramaturg and Movement Director, UK)

4.30-5.00pm: Final remarks by Fiona Macintosh (APGRD, Oxford)

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