We curate a diverse programme of events, consisting of workshops, seminars, lectures, symposia and performances. The majority of our events are open to public audiences. Unless otherwise stated, they are free of charge to attend, and take place online. Some of our events during the course of a year will address a particular research theme. For 2022-23, our theme is making waves.
Performing Pandemic Grief: The Arts of Losing
Thursday 17 & Friday 18 November 2022
A Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) funded symposium
- Thursday 17 November 2022, 9.45-6pm GMT, Online
- Friday 18 November 2022, 9.45-6pm GMT, In person, G10, School of Arts
- Sarah E. Wagner, Professor of Anthropology, George Washington University, USA
- Lucy Selman, Associate Professor in Palliative and End of Life Care, University of Bristol
- Michael Buffong, Artistic Director, Talawa Theatre Company
- David Harradine, Co-Artistic Director, Fevered Sleep
- Rachel Mars, Theatre maker and performer
- Conor Mitchell, Artistic Director Belfast Ensemble
- Shabnam Shabazi, multi-disciplinary artist
This Wellcome ISSF-supported symposium, hosted by Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre, explores the role of theatre, performance and related art practice in the experience and expression of grief in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Planned as a hybrid event, taking place online (17 November, via Teams) and in person (18 November, Birkbeck School of Arts), this symposium approaches grief as a psychological, medical, anthropological and cultural response to death and loss, including in an expanded sense that includes relationships, employment, social life, cultural participation and life opportunities. Bringing together artists, academics, health and social care professionals, the symposium aims to explore why and how people grieve and don’t grieve; where and when this happens; the role of art, ritual, social and cultural practices in this process; and the particular nuances of grieving in the wake of COVID-19.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic calls on us to examine our relationship to grief with urgency, owing to the scale of its impact (an estimated 6.5 million have so far died); the ways in which its speed has made grief difficult or even impossible to process; how pandemic grief has become folded into other events, including personal illness and loss, the Black Lives Matter movement (and its losses), the war in Ukraine, the death of world leaders; climate grief; and how social quarantine and accelerated digitization have frustrated established mourning practices and produced new forms. The symposium is spurred by the contention that the arts have emerged as important strategies and practices to support the processing of grief during the pandemic, and it aims to stimulate and support conversations around this phenomenon.
The symposium features three strands: 1) invited specialist keynotes and panels; 2) artist/academic presentations and workshops; 2) a Peltz Gallery/Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre new digital artwork commission.
Download the schedule, abstracts and biographies here: Performing Pandemic Grief
Birkbeck Theatre Alumni Annual Lecture: Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal & Néka Da Costa
Birkbeck alumni Néka Da Costa and Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal reflect on their creative projects, their research, career paths, and how the MA Text and Performance at Birkbeck prepared them for their current endeavours, research and collaborative theatre work. Book your free place here.
GRiT: Graduate Research in Theatre
GRiT is our termly online research seminar, featuring presentations by visiting scholars, faculty and graduate students.
Dates for the 2022-23 academic session:
- Thursday 23 February 2023, 4-5pm GMT: Maurya Wickstrom (CUNY)
- Thursday 25 May 2023, 4-5pm BST: Kathleen Gallagher (University of Toronto)
Playful States of Mind
Monday 19 December, 10am-5pm, G10, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square.
Organisers: Lynn Froggett, Noreen Giffney and Candida Yates, with support from Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre and Association for Psychosocial Studies
What do the terms ‘play’, ‘playing’ and ‘playfulness’ mean in different contexts? How might we understand play as both a doing and a being; an activity and a state of mind? In what ways might play be related to creativity and destructiveness? What kinds of feelings might be enacted, evoked or contained while engaging in moments of play? How do we play and what might we be communicating to ourselves and others, consciously and unconsciously, in our play and in the ways in which we play? Why is a capacity for play so important for our mental health and general wellbeing? How might psychoanalysis and psychosocial studies help us to reflect on our experiences of play? These questions will frame our event.
This event will offer a series of immersive experiences centred around play, to help us to reflect on and talk about our individual and collective encounters with play. The emphasis will be on experience, reflection and conversation. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and be prepared for an encounter with the unknown.
This event will appeal to anyone interested in play, imagination and creativity. It will be of particular interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors, group analysts, play therapists, creative arts therapists, social workers and social care workers, mental health workers, youth workers, artists, performers and curators, as well as academic researchers and students in the fields of psychosocial studies, cultural studies, and in the arts, humanities and social sciences more broadly.
Places are limited so early registration is advised. Participants are requested to register only if they are available to attend the whole day, as this event makes use of a group experience.
For more information click here.
To book click here.
London Theatre Seminar
Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre supports London Theatre Seminar. For information about the seminar in 2022-23, click here.
Read about our past events at the links below.