Opening Night: A Symposium on Performance and Urban Space

Academic Symposium

Thu 11 Feb




City Gallery Wellington

Te Ngākau Civic Square, Wellington Central, Wellington 6011, New Zealand


wheelchair accessible

The public is invited to attend the opening night of the "What if the City was a Theatre?" Symposium on Performance and Urban Space. The evening will begin with a Mihi Whakatau by Kurt Komene and representatives of Te Ātiawa / Taranaki Whanui.
Readings and performances by Awa Puna, Chris Tse, and Emma Barnes.

These will be followed by a keynote address by Dr. Dorita Hannah. RSVP is appreciated.

RELEASE THE FURIES!... Theatre has left the Building
Keynote by Dorita Hannah

It wasn’t so long ago that we negotiated the city as self-organising citizens: free from security fencing, stanchion barriers, fluoro-orange traffic cones and proliferating signage; all designed to regulate our individual and collective movement. This new normal, which signals impending catastrophe and therefore a precarious existence, not only limits how we engage with the urban environment but curtails spontaneous self-expression and risk-taking while disregarding the city’s multiple histories, cultural mythologies and socio-political realities. And yet, recent incidents on a highly mediatized global stage have revealed a hyper-theatricalization of everyday life, blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction. This is accompanied by a tendency for contemporary theatre to leave the ‘dead air’ of its designated buildings, seeking ‘the real’ in all its manifestations. In this keynote address, Dorita Hannah presents a range of key performance projects, including her own collaborative dance-architecture events, in order to consider how challenging well-established binaries—between safety and danger, mythos and materiality, theatre and city—can enrich urban development with opportunities for liminal scenographic encounters, particularly in Wellington, Te Whanganui-a-Tara.


Dr Dorita Hannah is a designer and independent academic whose practice and research — operating across the architectural, performing, culinary and visual arts — focus on performance space and spatial performativity. Her projects in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and America, range from theatre architecture (space-in-action) to public events (action-in-space), addressing the dynamics, politics and intermediality of the public realm. Hannah has published on Performance Design and Event-Space, while designing, curating and directing exhibitions, installations, performances, feasts, symposia and workshops. Her design work has gained awards and citations and has been regularly selected for exhibition in World Stage Design and the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design & Space.

For further information about the symposium, please see the programme:

Curated by Melody Nixon in association with Victoria University's School of Languages and Cultures