Start main page content

An African first as Wits School of Arts hosts Performance Studies international conference

- Wits University

The Performance Studies international (PSi) Conference #28 takes place in Africa for the first time from 2-5 August 2023.

The departments of Theatre and Performance and Drama for Life  in the Wits School of Arts host the annual PSi, the theme of which this year is Uhambo Luyazilawula: Embodied Wandering Practices.

Early bird registration is now open and closes at midnight on 31 May 2023 (SA time).

Registration is now open for the 2023 Performance Studies international conference hosted by Wits School of Arts in August 600x300

Performance embodied in Africa

PSi is a professional association founded in 1997 to promote communication and exchange among artists, thinkers, activists, and academics working in the field of performance.

Over the past decades, performance has developed as an umbrella term for scholarly as well as artistic research engaged with a wide variety of topics.

The research conducted under this umbrella term is interdisciplinary and is strongly rooted in the interaction between theory and practice.

Fiona Ramsay, Head of the Department of Theatre and Performance at Wits, says: “The Performance Studies international conference, organised and hosted by Wits University, positions both the Wits School of Arts and the University as the creative and scholarly hubs for knowledge production on performance studies research in Africa. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary nature of the conference reflects the integration of interdisciplinary practices within the School of Arts.”

Surrender to the journey

The Performance Studies international conference in Africa for the first time in 2023 is hosted by Wits departments of Theatre and Performance and Drama for Lif

This blended conference focuses on embodied wandering practices as Performance Studies modalities internationally, with specific reference to the African context.

Uhambo is an IsiZulu word meaning ‘a journey.’ The phrase uhambo luyazilawula loosely translates to ‘a journey controls itself,’ suggesting that, while destinations may be planned, the journey itself and its outcomes cannot be controlled.

Performance Studies as a creative art and a research paradigm is a useful lens through which to interrogate the significance of journeying as embodied practices of movement, nomadism, migration, immigration, and cultural exchanges, amongst its many other dimensions.

“The PSi 2023 conference seeks to platform and engage the methods, practices and approaches by creative arts and performance practitioners, as well as thinkers, researchers and writers in the field and practices of Performance Studies in Africa, and its intersections with ways of being and belonging in the academy and arts faculties,” says Kamogelo Molobye, a Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at Wits and on the PSi Board.

As a PSi Board member, Molobye is responsible for digital communications, including communication strategy for PSi #28. He is also a choreographer, performer, researcher, writer, physical theatre course convener and a PhD candidate.

“To surrender to the journey connects us to ways of understanding and critiquing how we came to be,” he says.

Head of the School of Arts René Smith, says: “The conference theme is a relevant and necessary provocation within global and local contexts where freedom of movement and other human rights, as well as democracy per se, are increasingly under threat.

Mobility and journeying are universal and core to the human experience. Embodied Wandering Practices invites us to imagine a world of inclusion and interconnectedness. 

We are especially pleased that the organising committee for this interdisciplinary conference includes creatives and emerging scholars from different disciplines in the Wits School of Arts.”