Working Groups

About Working Groups

At the 2023 ADSA Conference, we are trialling the addition of Working Groups alongside the main conference sessions. These groups will meet separately during the conference week (27 November to 1 December), and pursue their own intellectual agendas both within the context of and parallel to the wider conference themes. Each working group sets its own working practices best suited to its topic. On this page, you can find descriptions of the working groups proposing to meet at the 2023 ADSA Conference, along with some information about their membership and the structure of their meetings. Some FAQs about the operation of working groups and their integration into the ADSA Conference follow at the bottom of the page.

Australasian Actor Training Network (AusAct)

Robert Lewis (
Christopher Hurrell (

AusAct calls for presentations, panels, and workshops detailing actor training scholarship by researchers, practitioners and pedagogues working with original performer training methods developed within the Australasian context. This working group focuses on training pedagogies and research developed in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and their relationship to place, space, land, environment, culture and technologies. AusAct provides an avenue for the sharing of original materials and knowledge in dialogue within the Australasian performer training context. This working group meeting aims to widen the AusAct network, to have a broader discussion of current actor training in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, to share findings with ADSA members, and to continue to bridge the gap between practice and research.

Since its inception in 2018, AusAct has held 3 face-to-face conferences and one online conference. Locations included Charles Sturt University (where it was founded), QUT, and Arts Academy, Federation University. As of 2023, the conference has seen approximately 75 papers, 6 panels, 20 workshops and 4 performances. The conference has included presentations by academics and practitioners from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, and beyond. AusAct welcomes new and existing members to join this working group at the ADSA conference.

Working Practices
The AusAct Working Group will meet and share paper presentations, panels, and workshops dealing with any aspect of Australasian performer training. While proposals that reflect some engagement with practices of archiving, remembering, and forgetting in line with the conference theme are encouraged, the working group accepts broader submissions in line with the above description. 

Dance Research Australia (DRA)

Jo Pollitt (
Erin Brannigan (

Dance Research Australia (DRA) is an international network that curates, connects and activates research toward building capacity and invigorating dance praxis locally and globally amid the ever-present histories and current critical discourses of the Australian context. Contributing to the Australasian dance ecology, DRA aims to build capacity by facilitating a series of new engagement platforms including post graduate forums, reading groups, publications, presentations of artist led research and scholarly panels. The network focuses on community-building, visibility, and inclusivity: that is, broadening the current scope through encouraging new work and attracting, connecting and supporting emerging and established researchers. It is focused on Australasian scholars, writers and artist-researchers working in the field of dance and allied fields both inside and outside the institution, and both locally and internationally. It advocates for the capacity of dance research to attend to anti-colonial imperatives that connect it with critical change toward equity and justice.  

Dance Research Australia is a community initially established with over 70 members which had its inaugural meeting at ADSA in 2020. It is focused on Australasian scholars, writers and artist-researchers working in the field of dance and allied fields both inside and outside the institution, and both locally and internationally. The working party currently consists of Dr Jo Pollitt (convenor 2022-2023), Shinjita Roy (PG rep), Dr Tia Reihana, Dr Rachael Swain, Dr Siobhan Murphy, Dalisa Pigram, and Rhiannon Newton, with Associate Professor Erin Brannigan (currently on sabbatical).

Working Practices 
The DRA Working Group will meet via an person/hybrid format with the goal of building connection with the community. To this end we will host an open forum which will feature updates from DRA in relation to current projects and engage in consultation with DRA community, we will also share a DRA seminar and work to connect people and papers in response to the wider ADSA conference call.

Financial Data in Performing Arts Research

Margaret Hamilton (
Kathryn Kelly (
Sarah Thomasson (

The initial interests of this group emerge from the development of a new financial table in AusStage. It aims to investigate the relationship between cultural policy and the financial landscape for the performing arts in Australasia – regional, state, national and international. It seeks innovative and pragmatic approaches to combining economic and cultural data designed to impact the development of government policy by providing evidence-based analyses on the Australian performing arts culture. The group invites contributions from researchers interested in combining the relational possibilities of economic data with rich cultural data, including that held in AusStage, Theatre Aotearoa and other repositories.

The group aims to:

  • showcase AusStage’s new functionality in its financial table;
  • compare methods designed to interrogate assumptions concerning the financial landscape its relationship to cultural policy;
  • develop critical mass in data aimed to increase uptake by end-users; and
  • explore funding options for the development of research based on financial data.

Working Practices
We call for papers to be submitted prior to the conference and pre-circulated in advance of the working group meeting. This will facilitate the structure of the inaugural meeting, and establish directions moving forward for a program of research, including the question of meetings in between the annual ADSA conference. Proposals should include some detail of methodology in the interrogation of financial data, and/or detail of the cultural dataset on which the research draws. The working group accepts broader submissions in line with the above description, regardless of their intersection with the wider conference theme.

Performance, Health & Creative Care

Janet Gibson (
Meg Mumford (
Bryoni Trezise 

The aim of the Performance, Health & Creative Care Working Group is to support and enliven Australasian researchers and practitioners who are engaging with health and care in relation to performance (live and mediated, everyday and framed) and the performing arts (including drama, theatre, spoken word, circus, dance, and play). In a context where health and care challenges are particularly urgent, we are experiencing rich and new interventions within the fields of performance and the performing arts. This working group seeks to address aesthetic, socio-political, and historical issues connected with these interventions. The group considers the histories, spaces, state-of-play, and future possibilities within Australasia and beyond with regard to performance practices and theories that are connected with health and care, and asks how these embodied and reflective practices can be created, encountered, evaluated, fostered, and disseminated. 

At present, there is no Australasian group dedicated to relations between performance, health, and care. In order to develop the PHCC network and its events, publications, and international links, we invite all Australasian scholars and practitioners who are attending to these relations to join this working group. We welcome contributions from researchers working within, but not limited to the following areas: arts and health; arts and ageing, disability and mental health; care aesthetics; climate care; care in health and education contexts; community-based theatre and socially-engaged arts and theatre; drama therapy; health humanities; performance and death and dying; theatre, ageing and dementia; theatre and trauma; and youth arts and health.      

Working Practices
We invite in-person or online presentations on any topics that relate to the PHCC aims and concerns. The presentations can be either a fifteen-minute work-in-progress paper or a seven-minute summary of a completed or in-progress research/creative project. The papers and summaries will be pre-circulated before the conference. During the conference the group will hold its inaugural meeting to establish future directions for research and creative initiatives, including a program of discussions, sharings, invited speakers, and opportunities to co-research.

Performing Arts Heritage Network (PAHN)

Helen Munt (
Sue-Anne Wallace 

The Performing Arts Heritage Network (PAHN) is concerned with capturing and interrogating the ephemera of performance. In addition to the complexity of the performing arts scene, the transitory nature of any theatrical, musical, or audio-visual performance makes the task of documenting it and collecting it particularly difficult. In the context of the overarching conference theme, “Archives, Artists & Absences”, this working group considers the forces that shape the museological and archival heritage of the performing arts. PAHN is particularly interested the status of ‘data’ in heritage and historiography, and how archives, collections, and repositories might shape the future of the performing arts. 

For its membership, PAHN draws on performing arts collections in museums and other institutions. Over the years, membership has dropped; Covid has had a significant impact on PAHN. Performing arts collections risk becoming Cinderella collections. In convening this working group at ADSA, PAHN aims to revitalise its membership and stimulate debates on where performing arts collections and archives exist within the context of museums, universities, libraries and other institutions. PAHN welcomes new, past, and existing members to join this working group at the ADSA Conference. 

Working Practices
The PAHN Working Group will meet and share 20-minute work-in-progress papers, with a particular focus on the intersection of history and heritage, in any material, format, genre, or level of society. Proposals should also reflect some engagement with the nature of collection(s), in line with the wider ADSA Conference call.

Scenography and Performance Design

Tessa Rixon (
Tanja Beer (
Madeline Taylor (

The Scenography and Performance Design Working Group will provide a space to share research and pedagogical advancements in all areas of design for performance, including spatial, set, costume, lighting, and sound, through to intermedial design practice and digital scenography. We welcome all researchers whose work intersects with the concerns of scenography, be it questions of space, time, audience, technology, aural, visual, material and environmental aspects of performance environments. Our goal is to foster a collaborative Australasian network for performance design researchers, practitioners, architects, technicians, and tertiary educators and researchers to share advances in practice, pedagogy and scholarly work. The Scenography and Performance Design working group aims to be a long-lasting group that connects participants throughout the year, culminating in an in-person/hybrid meeting at the annual ADSA conference.

Our aim is to solidify the growing body of Australasian researchers specialising in scenography and performance design. Many of us are actively involved with international research networks, yet lack a home where we can share our achievements and advance the national dialogue on performance design. This working group will provide a space for this sharing, to connect those investigating by the power of design in performance, to find avenues to collaborate, co-publish, and support one another in our research. 

Working Practices
Working Group sessions will be a mix of:

  • Invited speakers (curated by the co-conveners) on timely and relevant topics;
  • Group discussion on issues or opportunities facing the field; 
  • Paper presentations and/or informal sharing of research projects; and
  • Networking and developing opportunities to co-research. 

We invite proposals for 20-minute paper presentations on any aspect of scenography and performance design, as well as shorter 7-minute flash talk updates on in-progress research projects. We also welcome proposals for panel discussions. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We set out here some information about how we envisage working groups functioning in an ADSA Conference context. If you have any further questions that aren't covered here, please contact Chris Hay ( 

Can I attend both the working groups and the main conference?
Yes, absolutely – there will be no clash between working groups and other conference sessions.

Do I have to attend a working group?
No: they are simply an optional extra for the 2023 ADSA Conference.

Can I just attend a working group?
While we hope that working group attendees will 'stick around' for the remainder of the conference, there will be a registration option for those who elect just to attend working group sessions.

Can I attend a working group without presenting?
Yes – all working groups meeting in 2023 are open to both presenters and auditors. When you register for the 2023 ADSA Conference, you will be able to indicate your intention to attend a particular working group.

How will the timetable work?
Participating in a working group will add an additional day to your Conference schedule. Working group meetings will take place on Monday 27 November and Tuesday 28 November. It will be possible to participate in both the Working Group sessions and the PG/ECR sessions. 

Do I need to submit a separate proposal?
No, as part of the abstract submission process, you can indicate that you wish your proposal to be considered by a specific working group. If that working group is unable to accept your proposal, it will be automatically considered for inclusion in the general conference program.