Collective Trauma and Contemporary Crises in Performances of Ancient Tragedies

trauma conference

Date: 30th of June 2021 (10am-5pm; London time) 

Organisation: Estelle Baudou (Oxford) and Silke Felber (Vienna) 

Numerous artists are currently invoking Greco-Roman antiquity in their reflections on war, terror, the anthropocene, and the financial and health crises. Ancient dramatic scripts appear to provide useful foils for representations of the pain and fragmentation of post-traumatic memories. This event will challenge the notion that trauma is unrepresentable by examining the performance of trauma on contemporary stages: how do performing artists acknowledge contemporary crises and perform the impact of these crises on groups and individuals while using ancient materials? 

The event will consist of two roundtable discussions with scholars and practitioners, each preceded by a pre- recorded conversation with distinguished artists (Peter Sellars / Ian Rickson and Kae Tempest). The first roundtable discussion is titled ‘Mediatisation and Performability of Collective Trauma’, and the second ‘Bodily Response to Crises: Performing the Spread of Collective Trauma’. 

A recording of the full conference has been archived and can be viewed on request and in person at the APGRD (see the APGRD website to arrange an appointment). The two pre-recorded interviews with Peter Sellars and with Ian Rickson and Kae Tempest are available on the APGRD's YouTube channel:

Watch: Peter Sellars interview

Watch: Ian Rickson and Kae Tempest interview


10.00am-10.15 (London time)

Introduction by Estelle Baudou (Oxford) and Silke Felber (Vienna) 


Pre-recorded interview with Peter Sellars (theatre director)


Roundtable discussion: ‘Mediatization and Performability of Collective Trauma’ 


  • Clare Finburgh-Delijani (Professor in Theatre and Performance, Goldsmiths, University of London) 
  • Justine McConnell (Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature, KCL) 
  • Angeliki Poulou (Curator and Lecturer in Performing Arts & New Media, Department of Digital Arts & Cinema, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens) 



Pre-recorded interview with Ian Rickson (theatre director) and Kae Tempest (playwright)



Roundtable discussion: ‘Bodily Response to Crises: Performing the Spread of Collective Trauma’


  • Marie-Louise Crawley (Assistant Professor in Dance and Cultural Engagement, C-DaRE (Centre for Dance Research), Coventry University) 
  • Helene Foley (Professor of Classics, Columbia)
  • Struan Leslie (Director, Dramaturg and Movement Director, UK) 


Final remarks by Fiona Macintosh (APGRD, Oxford)