A gathering connotes a communion of multiples, the coming together of things, objects, persons, ideas, practices already there, and being here, becoming one thing, something, now, without erasing previous autonomous, plural, existences. Perhaps it is a different, not necessarily new, way of being together; one that seeks to probe into the interstices of our differences and how these weave into a fabric or network of routes and connections, our routes and interconnections, as people inhabiting an archipelago that is itself, in a manner of speaking, a gathering of multiple spaces of land and sea.

The First Conference on Performance Studies in the Philippines will gather performance scholars and artists for the first time to explore the possibility of birthing a new ‘field’ of studying and doing performance in the country.
In January 2013 at the first meeting of the group that would decide to call themselves ‘Performance Studies Philippines’, there was a strong consensus that a serious gap needs to be filled in the Philippines: a need to get a conversation going that engages new ideas, to search for or develop theoretical models and frameworks with which to study or learn about performance in its varied forms. There is a need for criticism to flourish, for artists to talk about their work and engage in self-reflexive conversations with those who research and write on performance, to develop a platform with which independent artists will have a space for making performance and theorizing their practice, to establish a link between practitioners and the academy, and to have a space in the academy devoted to performance studies and its productive uses for local performance practices and the communities that sustain them.

Performance Studies is very much a new idea in the Philippines, although performance art has been around for some time (with practitioners having notable achievements in both artistic praxis, scholarly work, and organizational reach and impact both locally and internationally) and Filipino scholars have long been engaged in performance research. What can be learned about ‘Philippine’ performance studies/PS in the Philippines looking at these practices? What are the possibilities for a disciplinary development in the academy and other sites of practice?

Performance Studies is a developed (though still dubbed as ‘emerging’) field of study and program offered in major universities around the world and the ‘turn to performance’ is something that is known in many fields of the humanities and social sciences. It is also a field of cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and artistic work. And yet, in the Philippines, there is no program anywhere that announces itself as being on performance studies—not even one on ‘theatre studies’, except perhaps, partially, UP Diliman’s ‘Art Studies’ program. By default, performance has been investigated using methodologies of the traditional disciplines, every which way but through and as performance itself—that is, performance not only as object of study but as methodology, a certain way of doing and thinking about performance and other phenomena.

Pagtitipon is ambitious in its intent, but practical and performative in its approach. The one-day conference is designed to gather researchers, scholars, critics, institution-based and independent practitioners from wide multi- and interdisciplinary backgrounds, but only to provoke and agitate, not to answer questions, because first we need to gather the questions and to know the reasons for asking them. At this first conference, the goal is only to meet, to gather, and to have an initial sense of what spaces of possibilities can be explored. We are using the idea of ‘fluid states’ as conceptual basis (after the Performance Studies international 2015 project which would include the Philippines), underscoring the necessity of an active awareness of the multiple locations and subjects of our research and artistic practices.

Confirmed Speakers: Maaike Bleeker (Utrecht University)
Full professor, Chair of Theatre Studies, UU
Head of Department, Media & Culture Studies, UU
President, Performance Studies international (PSi)

Paul Alexander Rae (National University of Singapore)
Assistant Professor, Theatre Studies Programme
Department of English Language and Literature
Convener, PSi#10 (2004) Perform: State: Interrogate, Singapore

Ulysses Aparece (University of Cebu)
Vice Chancellor for Academics-General Education
and Dean, College of Arts
Researcher: ‘Sukdan Narratives On Dagohoy: An Ethnography Of Performance’

Lutgardo Labad (National Commission for Culture and the Arts)
Head, Committee on Dramatic Arts
2011 Fellow, Asian Public Intellectuals

Session Conveners/Moderators: Marjorie Evasco, Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez, Shirley Lua, Judy Freya Sibayan
Organizers and Partners: De La Salle University-Manila (College of Liberal Arts, Department of Literature, Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Centre, Cultural Affairs Office); University of the Philippines-Diliman (College of Arts and Letters, Department of Arts Studies, Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts); Ateneo de Manila University (Fine Arts Program, Departamento ng Filipino); Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA); Lusong Culture and Arts Network, Inc.; National Commission for Culture and the Arts-Committee on Dramatic Arts

Contact. Please confirm attendance by emailing perform_philippines@yahoo.com or sending a text message: ‘CONFIRMING ATTENDANCE AT AUG24 PAGTITIPON’ with your name, institutional/ organizational affiliation, and email address to +63 9395792168 (SMART).
Department of Literature, De La Salle University-Manila, 2401 TaftAvenue, Manila, Philippines 1004
Tel. No. +63 2 524-4611 local 532, 541, Mobile No. +63 9395792168, Email: perform_philippines@yahoo.com