Theatrical Theology: Conversations on Performing the Faith

The Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts (University of St Andrews) is hosting a conference on the theme Theatrical Theology: Conversations on Performing the Faith, held in St Andrews on 15-17 August 2012. Here’s the blurb:

Influenced and inspired by Hans Urs von Balthasar’s seminal work in The Theo-Drama, a growing number of contemporary scholars in various theological disciplines are discovering the potential for interdisciplinary conversation between theology and theatre. From a theological perspective, there are several reasons why drama and theatre present themselves as particularly fitting conversation partners, including the inherently dramatic form of God’s revelation in word and deed, the role of Scripture as a text which invites performance rather than passivity, faithful action as both the goal and means of theological understanding, the public and communal nature of theology, and the indeterminacy, provisionality, and ‘improvised’ nature of the theological task. For its part, theatre has always been compelled to acknowledge a debt to its ancient and longstanding entanglements with religious and theological perspectives, and may have much to gain from the process of revisiting and responding to these, not least in their present-day Christian form.

The task of pursuing a serious and constructive interdisciplinary exchange between theatre and theology, however, is one that has only just begun. Furthermore, suspicions persist in some theological quarters regarding the value of interdisciplinary approaches to theology as such, and towards theatre in particular which, among the arts, has experienced a particularly volatile relationship with the Church across the centuries. In response to all of this, Theatrical Theology: Conversations on Performing the Faith will seek to demonstrate the fruitfulness for constructive Christian theology and theatre alike of pursuing the conversation further, tracing some of the advances that have already been made, and identifying new challenges and opportunities still to be reckoned with as the interaction continues and develops further.

Our plenary speakers are among those whose work has already embarked upon the conversation between theology and theatre, including Shannon Craigo-Snell (Louisville Seminary), David Cunningham (Hope College), Jim Fodor (Bonaventure) Timothy Gorringe (Exeter), and Ivan Khovacs (Canterbury Christ Church). In addition to these plenary presentations, there will be several short paper sessions on the conference theme. Furthermore, it is expected that the conference programme will include conversations with theatre practitioners and a specially staged theatrical performance.

Short papers proposals are invited on the conference theme, including the following topics:

      • Theatrical models and metaphors in Christian theology
      • Character formation for life and the stage
      • Ethics, improvisation, and performative wisdom
      • Christian practices and theatrical skills
      • Scripture as dramatic text
      • Liturgy, worship, and performance
      • Theodramatic ecclesiology and company life
      • Mission and audience participation
      • Stage, place and contextual theology
      • Embodiment and performing the faith

Proposals should be for 20-minute papers to be followed by 10 minutes for questions. Please include in the proposal your name, institution, paper title, and abstract (not exceeding 200 words). Paper proposals will be considered immediately, and please send submissions by email to before the deadline 15 June, 2012. More information regarding conference proceedings and registration will be available soon at

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