THEATRE TOPICS 31.2 CFP: Special Issue on Intimacy

The editors of Theatre Topics hereby announce a call for submissions for the journal’s upcoming Special Issue on intimacy. We invite essays that engage with the ways that intimacy, performance, and pedagogy interrelate. We encourage explorations of intimacy awareness as it relates to erotic acts in performance, but we also welcome wider investigations of what “intimacy in theatre” can mean. The deadline for PRINT submissions is October 15, 2020. The deadline for ONLINE submissions is 15 December 2021. Early submissions are encouraged.

Theatre in the 2020s finds itself obliged to become more intimate with intimacy. Although intimacy trainers like Tonia Sina, Alicia Rhodes, Laura Rikard, and Chelsea Pace have been active for several years, movements like #MeToo have centered the field’s attention on the need for more responsible practices of negotiating intimate physical contact on stage, in class, and in rehearsal. Companies and institutions are still in the process of adapting to this sea change in theatrical culture. Such transformation is long overdue. 

Yet intimacy, including but not limited to eroticism, has long been a theatrical keyword. Insofar as we usually watch theatre cheek by jowl, a degree of physical intimacy defines most theatrical spectatorship. A personal experience becomes one we share with strangers. Theatrical architecture, dramaturgy, and production design often manipulate the relationship between intimacy as proximity and as personal connection. We praise actors who give emotionally intimate performances. We credit scholars who know their subject matter intimately. And in every class, every rehearsal, theatre instructors navigate the tricky task of forging meaningful connections with students while maintaining professional boundaries. In multiple dimensions, theatre is inherently intimate.

Theatre’s act of deeply, closely encountering the other, however, carries risks as well as rewards. Intimacy can be misused, twisted to manipulative or exploitative ends. Dismaying stories of sexual abuse continue to emerge in professional, community, and educational settings. These sobering realities remind us what a dangerous, powerful thing we invoke when we teach, study, and produce theatre as a mode of human contact. How, then, might the new intimacy awareness change the intimate practice of theatre? Possible topics and questions include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • How is intimacy awareness spreading and transforming how we teach and practice theatre? What institutional or systemic issues enable or complicate this process?
  • How does intimacy awareness affect performances that blur or break conventions defining “appropriate” audience-performer interactions, such as immersive or one-on-one productions? 
  • What forces, organizations, and people shape the relatively new role of the theatrical intimacy professional? Who determines what good or appropriate intimacy training is? What if any standards of qualification or oversight dictate who gets to be or remain an intimacy choreographer or director?
  • How does intimacy map onto trust? Google and Amazon may know us intimately, for example, but we do not necessarily trust them. How is the conversation about trust in theatre like but distinct from the conversation about intimacy? How do the promises and pitfalls of trust differ from those of intimacy?
  • What is the role of distance (physical, emotional, cultural) in theatre? 
  • What kinds of intimacy awareness are appropriate to production roles beyond the performer? What sort of intimacy training would be valuable for designers, technicians, stage managers, marketers, and producers? 
  • How does the internet inflect what intimacy means in cultural and theatrical performance? What forces dictate how we gain, share, or disseminate intimate information?
  • When is intimate knowledge unwelcome? As colleges and universities develop ever-stricter standards of mandatory reporting, notions of “oversharing” and “too much information” take on new significance. How do these legal pressures interact with intimacy awareness? How are these factors clarifying or redefining what we mean by professional boundaries for instructors and artists?

For information about submission, CLICK HERE.


Feel free to contact the editors with any questions or inquiries:

John Fletcher, Co-Editor, Theatre Topics at

Margherita Laera, Online Editor, Theatre Topics, at  

Theatre Topics is an official publication of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).