Theater 44 (2) “Performance Curators” (2014) and Theater 47 (1) “Curating Crisis” (2017); The Parma Manifesto (1968)

Bertie Ferdman Professor, Borough of Manhattan Community College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

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Tom Sellar Writer and Independent Curator, USA

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Frederic Rzewski Composer and Musician, USA

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Theater 44 (2) “Performance Curators” (2014) and Theater 47 (1) “Curating Crisis” (2017): TURBA in conversation with special issue editors Bertie Ferdman and Tom Sellar (USA)

TURBA: I've been wondering for some time why it took so long to develop a body of literature around performance curating. In the Global North in 2010, there had been two initial events that laid the grounds for a discourse in the field: the Croatian theater journal Frakcija 55 “Curating Performing Arts” and the conference in Essen, Germany, “Beyond Curating: Strategies of Knowledge Transfer in Dance, Performance, and Visual Arts.” It then took four years before your “Performance Curators” issue of Theater was published, and then another three years until “Curating Crisis.” The concept of the performance curator had been present for decades. So why did it take so long? Why did you, Tom, decide in 2014 that we needed a collection of essays and dialogues on this topic at that time?

The Parma Manifesto (1968): Frederic Rzewski (USA)

In times of emergency men find it possible to perform operations necessary to survival without bureaucracy, police, money, and the other obstacles which normally obstruct the way to efficient behavior. In such moments the organism, acted upon by forces beyond its control, is able to act, to respond to reality in an efficient manner. It is forced to move, to create space for itself, in order to survive. When confronted with the possibility of destruction, it discovers the alternative of creation.

Contributor Notes

Bertie Ferdman, PhD, is Professor of Theater at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her publications include Off Sites: Contemporary Performance beyond Site-Specific (2018); The Methuen Drama Companion to Performance Art, coedited with Jovana Stokic (2020); and Curating Dramaturgies, coedited with Peter Eckersall (2021).

Tom Sellar, DFA, is a writer and independent curator based in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2003 he has served as Editor of the journal Theater and Professor in the Practice of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale University's School of Drama. His criticism and arts journalism have appeared in publications such as Artforum, BOMB, 4Columns, the Village Voice, and the New York Times.

Frederic Rzewski was an American composer, musician and composition teacher who began his career as a performer of new piano music in Italy during the 1960s. He formed Musica Elettronica Viva in the mid-1960s with Alvin Curran and Richard Teitelbaum in order to explore possibilities in live electronics and collective improvisation.

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The Journal for Global Practices in Live Arts Curation

  • Balzer, David. 2014. Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else. Ontario: Coach House Books.

  • Boal, Augusto. 1974. Theater of the Oppressed. London: Pluto Press.

  • Ferdman, Bertie, and Tom Sellar, eds. 2014. Special issue, “Performance Curators.” Theater 44 (2). “Performance Curators.” Duke University Press/Yale School of Drama

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  • Freire, Paolo. 1970. Pedagogies of the Oppressed. New York: Herder & Herder.

  • Malzacher, Florian, Tea Tupajić, and Petra Zanki. 2010, eds. Special issue, “Curating Performing Arts.” Frakcija 55.

  • Sellar, Tom, ed. 2017. Special issue, “Curating Crisis.” Theater 47 (1).


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