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Can Performance Save the World?

The seventh Performing the World (PTW) conference was held in New York City, Thursday October 4 through Sunday October 7, 2012.

International, cross-disciplinary, conversational, experiential, and practical-critical -- PTW has, since its launch in 2001, come to play an increasingly important role in supporting and expanding “the performance turn” around the world. If you practice and/or study performance as a means of individual, community and world transformation (or if you want to), PTW is for you.
The theme of the previous PTW, held in 2010 and attended by over 500 people from dozens of countries, was “Can Performance Change the World?” The depth of the challenges facing humanity two short years later led the conveners of Performing the World to recast the question for the 2012 conference as “Can Performance Save the World?”  

Deadlocked governments, protracted wars, dysfunctional education systems, and a deepening global economic crisis with no apparent solution have become the norm. At the same time, the activity of performance (and playing and pretending and creating…) as an alternative to the cognitive and/or faith-based “solutions” of traditional ideology, continues to spread both at the grassroots and in the university, with the non-ideological, improvisatory movements struggling to embody this trend. PTW is looking for proposals, be they for panels, workshops, performances, demonstrations, installations, etc., that address this question, “Can performance save the world?” from a multitude of perspectives, including but not limited to:

Does performance contribute to people seeing/being in the world in new ways?
Can we perform our way to ending poverty?
Performance and community building and sustainability
The interface of theatre performance and performance in daily life
Performance and learning
Performance and youth development, in school and out
Performance and the elderly
Performance, play and therapeutics
The relationship of performance to physical and emotional healing
Health and the performance of medicine (East and West)
New model of community health and human rights
What is creative conversation and how can it take place in polarized (and violent) environments?
The role of theatre and performance in war and conflict zones
What is play and what is its role in human creativity and development?
The social context of creativity
When “reasoning” and “argument” fail, what then?
Performance and the creation of history
Does knowing get in the way of performing?
The role of cognition/reflection in performance
The performance of language and the language of performance
Performance and organizational culture
The role of performance in politics and revolution
Does it take pretending to make change real?

Performing the World 2012 was a marathon “performance of conversation” with people from all over the world — scholars and researchers; educators, therapists, social workers, youth workers; doctors and other health workers; theatre, applied theatre and other performance artists; social activists and community organizers; business leaders and philanthropists; film, video and media creatives; and others.
The sponsors of Performing the World 2012 are the All Stars Project, Inc. and the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy. PTW will be held at the All Stars Project’s performance and development center on 42nd Street in New York City.

A key part of the Performing the World experience is the person-to-person connection — the building of new relationships with people from around the globe. If you need a place to stay during the conference, our International Host Committee will make every effort to find you one in a home of a New Yorker. Forms are available on the website.
Additional information about the conference and forms for registration, housing and financial aid can be found on the website,

For any questions please contact conference producer Diane Stiles at 212-356-8412.


About the Conference Sponsors 

The East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy is an international educational, training and research center for developing and promoting alternative and radically humanistic approaches in psychology, therapy, education and community building.  

Chief among them is social therapeutics, an approach to human development and social change that relates to people of all ages and life circumstances as social performers and creators of their lives. It is practiced globally as both a group-oriented, development-focused psychotherapy and a methodology with broad application in educational, cultural, health and community settings.

Founded in 1985 by social therapy’s creator Fred Newman and developmental psychologist and current director Lois Holzman, the Institute functions as a unique community think tank, building bridges between university-based and community-based practices, and bringing the traditions and innovations of each to the other. Training programs combine innovative theories with real-world practical applications and are open to professionals and paraprofessionals regardless of discipline. 

Headquartered in New York City, the East Side Institute is a vibrant learning community with a conversational model of learning and teaching. Through both online and NYC-based courses, study and training programs, international events and scholarly writings, the Institute has introduced thousands of educators, mental health and medical workers, scholars and community organizers to the most successful and cutting-edge approaches to tap, re-ignite and support the kind of human creativity, performance and developmental play so desperately needed if people are to transform the world. 


All Stars Project, Inc. (ASP) is the American pioneer for development and developmental learning through performance.  Founded in 1981, ASP creates and sponsors outside-of-school educational and performing arts activities for tens of thousands of poor and minority young people, sponsors community and experimental theatre, develops leadership training and pursues volunteer initiatives that build and strengthen communities.

ASP’s national and international headquarters is a 31,000-square-foot performing arts and development center on New York City’s West 42nd Street, and it runs programs in New York City, Chicago IL, Newark NJ, and the San Francisco Bay Area CA.  ASP receives no government funding; its innovative programs are supported by a unique private-sector “endowment of friendship.” 

ASP has been an innovator and leader in moving after-school in the U.S. beyond its tradition of remediation and in introducing development, performance and creativity into the broad educational culture. ASP’s newest initiative, UX, is an amalgam of developmental learning activities, produced by and for our communities. UX gives students/creators of all ages the opportunity to make life/learning discoveries, free of charge. UX is reaching out around the world to promote this performatory approach to human development, and to connect with those who are already building developmental activities and organizations.

Through our sponsorship of Performing the World and other formal and informal cultural exchanges and connections, ASP is a vibrant nexus for the international community of practice and conversation about developmental performance.  More than 7,000 people from 50 countries have visited the ASP’s center for performing arts and youth development since its opening in 2003. 

Over the last two decades, dozens of ASP youth, staff, volunteers and donors have served as ambassadors for performance and development to the UK, Chile, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, The Netherlands, China, South Africa and Taiwan.  Around the world, thousands of young people and adults who partner with them in activities influenced by or connected to ASP, identify themselves as “All Stars.”