Current open calls for submissions

Volume 25, Issue 2 - On Amateurs

Deadline: 21 June 2019

Are we entering a new era of ‘amateur performance’? The associations of the amateur with leisure activity, and as part of an economically determined division of time into valuable ‘work’ and unproductive ‘play’ seems to be breaking down. This understanding of the amateur universalized, Western, male working patterns with specific rhythms of the working day, week, year and life cycle arose from the mid-twentieth century. Across the globe, new patterns of labour and pleasure are emerging that call for new definitions of the amateur; an ‘amateur turn’ in academic studies is redefining the ways in which cultural practices are understood (Holdsworth, Milling and Nicholson 2017).  


The rise of new social media alongside new forms of working and ‘post-working’ are changing the nature of amateur performance. Social media provides opportunities for amateurs to reach global audiences, unmediated by professional gatekeepers. There is an apparent authenticity and intimacy of online amateur performance that can be community-building, but we are also interested in whether this can also be problematic in its politics and effects on both performers and audiences. Amateur bakers, gardeners, knitters and others have become television and social media celebrities, producing new kinds of performative contexts, combining amateurism with highly professional commercialized media systems. But there has also been a flourishing of popular participatory amateurism, in particular in singing, music, dance and other performative arts, and a resurgence in craft-making. Sometimes such activity pushes at another supposed boundary, between the amateur and the political. The ‘craftism’ movement (Greer 2014) indicates a wider sphere in which guerrilla performance, slow art and other forms of amateur participation are also political activism. 


These changes challenge us to rethink the geographical and historical contexts of the amateur. Forms of amateur performance in different parts of the world have a long history, challenging the notion of the amateur as secondary or second-rate. In some societies at some periods, ‘professional’ and ‘commercial’ have been derogatory terms, contrasted with the purity of amateur performance. In others, the boundaries between amateur, community and professional performance are less rigid, and performers move between modes at different times of their lives and everyday routines. We invite contributions that explore this history of amateur performance, that think through the nature and limits of the idea of the amateur in different cultural contexts and that help us to develop a new vocabulary to understand the complexity and nuances of amateur performance.  


Possible topics include: 


•            The idea of ‘the amateur’: explorations of the definition of the amateur in contradistinction to other categories, and explorations of the cultural, geographical and historical uses and limits of the term in relation to performance.  

•            The aesthetics of amateur performance: explorations of their distinctive qualities, including their design, and material culture. 

•            The amateur performer as identity: explorations of the role of amateur performance in people’s lives, and the social interactions between amateurs. 

•            Explorations of the amateur as expert, as ‘lover’ of performance, as local celebrity and as one among many. 

•            The amateur and the professional: explorations of collaborations between professionals, non-professionals and amateurs in training and development and performance. 

•            Explorations of the amateur as an element or phase of a longer career in the creative arts, including where the professionally trained through economic necessity continue their work within the amateur sphere. 

•            The economics and logistics of amateur performance: explorations of the different kinds of value, and the cost–benefits of amateur arts; explorations of the work before and behind amateur performance. 

•            The politics and activism of amateur practices: explorations of amateur activity as resistance, as collective expression and as a form of escape. 

•            The close textures of amateur performances: explorations of these themes through detailed analysis of particular examples of amateur performances and the performance of the amateur in everyday life. 

•            Spaces of amateur practice, such as the pavement, garage, kitchen, bedroom or shed. 




Holdsworth, Nadine, Jane Milling & Helen Nicholson (2017) ‘Theatre, Performance, and the Amateur Turn’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 27 (1): 4-17.  


Greer, Betsy. (2014) Craftism: The Art and Craft of Activism, Vancouver, Arsenal Pulp Press 



Building on the Journal’s emphasis on the intersection of practice and theory, we welcome contributions from artists, poets, musicians, dancers and performance-makers, amateur and dilettante performers as well as scholars. We define amateur performance broadly and encourage contributions on all forms of group and individual performance. We encourage short articles and provocations. As with other editions of Performance Research, we welcome artist’s pages and other contributions that use distinctive layouts and typographies, combining words and images, as well as more conventional essays.  



Proposals: 24 June 2019 

First drafts: October 2019 

Final drafts: December 2019 

Publication: March 2020 


Issue contacts:  

All proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to Performance Research at:  


Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the issue editors:  

David Gilbert - , Judith Hawley - ,  Helen Nicholson - and Libby Worth - . 


General Guidelines for Submissions:  

• Before submitting a proposal, we encourage you to visit our website ( and familiarize yourself with the journal.  

• Proposals will be accepted by email (Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (RTF)). Proposals should not exceed one A4 side.  

• Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send.  

• Please include the issue title and issue number in the subject line of your email.  

• Submission of images and other visual material is welcome provided that all attachments do not exceed 5 MB, and there is a maximum of five images.  

• Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.  

• If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.