Performance and Protest symposium

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09:30 to 22:00
Magee campus

Block MU
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The Performance and Protest symposium at Ulster University, Magee campus, will feature presentations and exhibited work relating protest to theatre, film, music, and other artforms and practices, with work from practitioners and academics drawn from across the UK, Ireland and as far afield as Canada, Turkey, Hong Kong, Iraq and India.

The event takes as its inspiration the fiftieth anniversary of the first transmissions of Radio Free Derry, a pirate radio station broadcasting its programmes to a nascent Free Derry, a self–declared autonomous region established near the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border, during the Northern Ireland Civil Rights period. These twin declarations of autonomy––in both the physical and broadcast space––in part embodied the transnational influence of the global counterculture upon the local left, including that of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement and other global student protest movements of the era.

The combination of performance and protest has many precedents in the sphere of Irish (and Northern Irish) culture. From marching band traditions to protest marches and sit–ins and from political chants and song traditions to storytelling, the deployment of performative aspects of historical and political narratives are rarely far from the surface.

The fiftieth anniversary of the inception of Free Derry (and Radio Free Derry) provides an opportunity to reflect on the connections between performance and protest in a range of global contexts and across a range of cultural forms in public spaces and on social networks and media: the Occupy movement, Arab Spring, Gezi Park, Euromaidan, the Repeal the Eighth campaign in Ireland, #MeToo and related movements, and, more recently, the Extinction Rebellion. Can we benefit from re–examining varied political acts from the last half–century (or beyond) to the present day via their framing as artistic endeavours? From marching to sit-downs, music to silence, how useful is it for us to consider performance as embedded within political––and cultural––action?



Papers 1: Protest and Activism/Papers 2: Protest and Theatre 1

11.30amCoffee break

Papers 3: Protest and Theatre 2/Papers 4: Protest and Activism–as–Creative–Practice


Papers 5: Gender and Protest/Artworks programme

4pmCoffee break
6pmBook launches

Performances (Foyle Arts Building, Magee)


Full schedule information will be forwarded to all registered attendees.

Hosted by the Music, Drama, Film and Museum Studies research unit, School of Arts and Humanities, Ulster University, Magee campus; organised in association with the Museum of Free Derry’s anniversary programme

Organising committee

Stephen McCann (Dublin Institute of Technology), Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick, Dr Murat Akser, Dr Victoria McCollum and Dr Brian Bridges (Ulster University)

Administration: Caroline Elvin (Ulster University)


Ulster University
Northland Road
County Londonderry
BT48 7JL

T: 028 7012 3456

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