The journal Estudis Escènics of the Institut del Teatre (IT) in Barcelona and the ACM (Critical Analyses of Modernity: Architecture and City) Research Group at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) are holding the International Conference "Theatre and City. Pre-Existing Scenographies" on 27 and 28 September 2018.

The Conference is open to anyone interested in the subject and who wishes to attend. Those wishing to participate more actively by presenting their paper – in Catalan, Spanish or English – must first submit an abstract of no more than one page, in any of the three aforementioned languages, before 23 April at the following address:




What is the relationship between theatre and city in the contemporary world?

The Conference "Theatre and City. Pre-Existing Scenographies" seeks to reflect on this issue from related and specific fields such as town planning, architecture, set design and dramaturgy.


Thematic fields

The debate is structured into two fields: "The Places of Performance" and "The City and its Dramaturgic Potential". The former focuses on architecture and town planning while the latter explores those issues that, from artistic practice, are concerned with the singularity of urban spaces: two approaches that must be fused into a broader perspective.


The Places of Performance

In 1978, for a monographic issue of the journal L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui on "les lieux du spectacle", Antoine Vitez wrote an article entitled "L’abri ou l’édifice". Vitez located theatre architectures as a whole in the open space between the austere and often anonymous refuge that harbours the work of a theatre company and the rather monumental and grandiloquent building.

In contemporary cities, theatre architectures become either actors of urban transformation or autistic constructions, indifferent to the environment. In both cases, they always end up playing a key role in citizen life.

Theatre buildings embody an artistic idea while being in tune with a social construct. The links between theatre, architecture and society today (from the perspective of their relationship with the city) are the pivot of this first field of the Conference. In this respect, attention should be drawn not only to theatres, understood as architectures conceived from the outset for stage performance, but also to those found spaces that, while generating the appropriate place for a specific staging, act as a revitalising agent and return abandoned spaces to citizen life.

Theatres and city have parallel lives, a story of agreements and disagreements reflected in the theatre map of a town. Looking at the locations of theatres in the city enables us to grasp the structuring capacity of theatre in the modern city. An ambivalent relationship is established between city and theatres. On the one hand, the civic potential of the urban space attracts theatre; on the other, theatre activity contributes to materialising the sociability of the place. A debate is needed on this issue in relation to the contemporary world but fully aware that analysis of the present often cannot avoid observing traces of the past.


The City and Its Dramaturgic Potential

However, the city should not only be seen as a place where buildings for the performing arts are located, regardless of the type, or as a material backdrop of a scene. Several places of the city can become a stage – an indissoluble stage space – of performative events that, as they happen and are immersed in the city, enable us to rediscover it.

Thus, a new framework of meeting between artists and citizens emerges, outside the theatre premises, that expands the possibilities of encounters and relations, and often changes the traditional role of the audience (in most cases, becoming active and having a determinant presence in the event). Thus, the Conference also seeks to analyse how the performing arts pursue a closer connection between the urban context and the social fabric; how they are reopening a direct dialogue – and a meeting point – between the performance, the city and the citizens.  

Moreover, at a time when it seems that the interest in linking theatre with life – with our more immediate environment – is more alive than ever, we have to ask ourselves about the relationship between reality and fiction in all those creative processes that are activated in non-specifically theatre spaces. In other words, how the boundaries between reality and fiction are blurred and contaminated while generating new poetics. And also how the dramaturgy is constructed based on the previous meaning of the scenarios sought.

The attempts to focus on real life in order to confront it with the audience from an artistic perspective have given way to reviewing the concept of authorship. At a time when the act of creation emerges and is built directly out of the actual experience of events and individuals, of daily lives and ordinary environments, the issue of authorship comes to the fore. On many occasions, when theatre leaves the theatre building to find its place in the city and explore its dramaturgic potential (as in many productions by the Rimini Protokoll company or Roger Bernat), the performers contribute their stories while becoming co-authors – and also protagonists – of their own narrative.

Finally, we also need to question the formats (itinerancy, intervention, action, performance, documentary, immersive and domestic theatre…) or the processes developed when staging in non-theatrical spaces in the 21st century and the values and purposes underlying these practices.


Call for abstracts

The International Conference "Theatre and City. pre-existing scenographies", which will be held at the Institut del Teatre in Barcelona on 27 and 28 September 2018, accepts papers for either of the two fields.

The Conference is open to anyone interested in the subject and who wishes to attend. Those wishing to participate more actively by presenting their paper – in Catalan, Spanish or English – must first submit an abstract of no more than one page, in any of the three aforementioned languages, before 23 April at the following address:

If the number of abstracts accepted by the Scientific Committee exceeds the number of presentations determined by the organisation, the committee will make a selection.

After the Conference, the papers accepted must be submitted within two months for publication in Estudis Escènics.

Those texts that could not be presented orally can be submitted for publication in the journal Estudis Escènics (in the same dossier that will feature the Conference papers). The rules for submission of originals are available at the following link.

The Organising Committee will ensure the scientific quality of the papers while suggesting, during the editing process, a dual review by renowned specialists in the subject. In the event of disagreement between assessments, a third review will be required.