Performance Research News

New Reviews Editor Transition

9 November 2023

Over the summer, Performance Research issued an open call for a new Reviews Editor after Anna Jayne Kimmel, who had served as Reviews Editor since 2019, stepped down from the role. In the following interview, Anna and PR’s new Reviews Editor, Kfir Lapid-Mashall, discuss the process of commissioning reviews, Kfir’s transition into the role of Reviews Editor and Anna’s new role as an associate editor of PR.  


Tell me a little bit about your background.

Anna: I am a performance studies scholar invested in the intersection of legal humanities and dance studies, with particular attention to moments of assembly, francophone histories and decarceral efforts. As an Assistant Professor of Dance at George Washington University, my pedagogy crosses seminar and studio space, akin to the fluid orientations featured in Performance Research. 

As a dancer, I have had the opportunity to perform repertoire by Ohad Naharin, Trisha Brown, John Jasperse, Francesca Harper, Olivier Tarpaga and Susan Marshall, amongst others. I received my Ph.D. from Stanford University and serve on the board of Performance Studies international in addition to my position at Performance Research.


Kfir: I am a writer, dramaturg and theatre maker and dedicate my research-led practice to the exploration of alternative mechanisms of truth-seeking and justice-doing. In my current doctoral research at the University of Glasgow, I am pursuing a cross-disciplinary project that establishes the dramaturgy of Judicial Theatre.

I find that some of the similarities between Anna and I are striking – ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­both in our interdisciplinary interest in the law and our background in dance. My journey with the arts and law started when I was a young dancer living in conservative and religious surroundings, during which my queer experience grew into a political outlook on otherness. At seventeen, I decided to become a lawyer and indeed pursued law for a decade, only to later succumb to the political efficacy of performance and realizing its power to expose injustices and violence within the judicial system. 


What attracted you to PR and the Reviews Editor role?


Anna: When Richard Gough first asked me to consider this role in 2019, I immediately knew my response. I was thrilled by the opportunity to support emerging scholarship, to collaborate with presses and contributing authors and to think deeply about trends in the discipline. Although reviews might fall in the end pages of a journal, the titles and individuals who animate those pages reflect the pulse of the field and I took seriously my responsibility to curate those pages with care.


Kfir: I found out about the possibility to join PR as Reviews Editor through the open call the journal had published. I too felt an immediate draw to the role. Serving as Reviews Editor offers a rare opportunity to contribute to the dissemination of new knowledge in our field, to actively participate in shaping academic discourse and to support both scholars and artists, emerging and established, in showcasing their work. Having been familiar with the overall mission of PR, I was particularly drawn to its commitment to innovation and equity and was keen to participate in the journal’s resistance to disconnected, disembodied and disinterested forms of scholarship. I am also enthusiastic about PR’s vision to expand the Reviews Section beyond books – an approach that aligns with my own passion for exploring diverse forms of performance and research and the relationship between them.


What is/was your process for comissioning reviews?


Anna: Each issue and individual review developed uniquely, with quirks and care responsive to the particular needs of those writing at the time. Across all issues, however, I always began from a bird’s eye view before narrowing towards the fine-tuned: what titles made sense together? How do those titles, their authors and respective reviews inform the content of issue? How might their presence shift orientations to the preceding articles? While there are always more worthy titles to be featured than allocated word count, I hoped that those included could offer more than a sum of their parts.


Kfir: In these early stages in the role, I follow in the footsteps of Anna’s brilliant work, which produced engaging and diverse reviews. I have identified a compass of values against which I can measure the answers I give to the questions Anna listed above. These values include, for instance, originality, diversity, generosity and criticality ­­­and they apply to both the titles chosen and their reviews.   


What do you enjoy the most about the reviews editing process?


Kfir: For me, the Reviews Section is a space that is permeated by curiosity, a space that, by definition, extends an invitation to the reader. I found a surprising sense of liberation in the realization that there are many worthy works for review. While my obligation to choose works for review increases my sense of responsibility, it also means that there is an opportunity to relish the orchestration of the section. This might mean finding works that are thrilling in their intertextuality and juxtaposing works that are thoroughly different in context or methodology and revelling in the tension between them.


Anna: I couldn’t agree more, Kfir. That plethora is overwhelming, in the fullest sense. For me, reading a contributing reviewer’s first draft of a commissioned review never failed to capture my attention. Although I might I have selected the title under review, and thus been familiar with its method, argument and content, reviewers have a way of shifting my own understanding of a text I’ve already encountered. There is a joy to see a text anew through their lens of expertise and I hope that our readers felt the same.


What was/is your main objective as Reviews Editor?


Anna: My aim as a reviews editor was to simultaneously reflect the field as it is while also making space for what could be. What research concerns and methods are legitimized? Who is allowed to participate in these conversations? And how can we offer critique from a space of care? I found it humblingly impossible to hold all of these questions at once but kept each as a guiding bellwether for my own accountability. 


Kfir: As Reviews Editor, I am committed to establishing a critical space that features work that is open and engaging, rather than seemingly impenetrable, and that uplifts voices that have been traditionally marginalized by academia and the arts. That criticality is to be exercised out of a love of performance and a profound passion for exploring forms of performance and research and the relationships between them. The tension between the ephemerality of performance and the permanence of the written word of research can remind us of our humanity and I hope such humanism will saturate the Reviews Section. 


What kinds of discussions have you both had about the transition of the role?


Kfir: While reading the Reviews Section under Anna’s management, it was apparent that she managed it with integrity, vigour and creativity. As I transitioned into the role, Anna was generous in demystifying the workflow and sharing both top tips on the technical aspects of managing the section, as well as her methods of designing it. I particularly took to heart one piece of advice that I keep going back to, which was that our role as editors is to assist in elevating the voice of the reviewer while supporting the original author.


Anna, how has working as PR's Reviews Editor prepared you for your role as an associate editor?


Anna: As I transition into my new role as Associate Editor, my time as Reviews Editor has been imperative to my knowledge of Performance Research: its history, values and workflow in relation to its readers, its masthead and the field. The rather individualized role of Reviews Editor calls for a great deal of agency and autonomy and l look forward to shifting toward a space of collaboration while holding on to the same guiding principles I was able to cultivate over the past several years. And of course, I can’t wait to see where Kfir leads the final pages of the issues to come!

Performance Archives

31 October 2018

Performance Archives: Recommendations by Performance Research contributors

Archives and archiving, in relation to performance, have been a concern and a passion of Performance Research since its inception, and its own archive, spanning twenty-five years, needs to be digitized and made accessible. In preparing the 100th issue PR wrote to all contributors inviting them to propose: 

'recommendations to specialist archives existing around the world that relate to performance (in its broadest sense). PR is keen to highlight less known, highly specialized, quirky and extra-ordinary performance archives. Perhaps an archive you have used or heard about, visited or discovered on the web - one that you would recommend to Performance Research readers and the wider community of performance research colleagues'.