The Game of I-Lands

U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Todd P. Cichonowicz via Wikimedia Commons
Monday 31 August 2020
10.00 - 3.00pm

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Australian Performance Exchange (APE) and Performosa (Taiwan)
Department of Theatre & Performance Studies

The Game of I-Lands is an intercultural science-art performance project about the impact of the South China Sea conflict on the creatures who inhabit the South China sea. The Game of I-Lands reorients geo-political questions away from nationalistic perspectives (claims of singular island ownership – hence “I-Lands”), towards thinking about shared histories, ecologies and the productive potentials of creative collaborations across borders.

Overshadowed by the strategic rivalries over island claims, shipping rights and resources in the South China Sea, the sentient beings and the marine eco-system play dodgem with “Freedom of Navigation Operations”, naval maneuvers, military exercises and the building of artificial atolls. The Game of I-Lands explores ways to give a theatrical platform to those marginalized voices; to shine a light on the marine ecologies and the threatened species.

This workshop with scientists, scholars and artists is designed to open up the creative development process to input from scholarly research in the area. Artists examine the impact of the South China Sea conflict on the marine ecosystem, with many questions arising. Is it possible that their manifestation of the world below the surface may become an analogy of how things are operating between competing rivals in the South China sea? Or perhaps an alternative reading will surface.


Maria Byrne is Professor of Marine and Developmental Biology at the University of Sydney. For 12 years she was the director of One Tree Island Research Station, the University’s facility on the Great Barrier Reef. Over the years this iconic, fully protected reef system has provided a major platform for Prof Byrne’s research on the biology and ecology of marine invertebrates that has largely involved echinoderms as model organisms. Her work on comparative evolutionary developmental biology and marine climate change has been funded by the Australian Research Council and other agencies for over 20 years.

William Figueira is an Associate Professor in Marine Animal Biology at the University of Sydney and Director of One Tree Island Research Station. His general interests lie in the area of fish population ecology and his research has focused on the behaviour and demographics of individual fish populations as well as the large scale connectivity between these populations. His interest in the larger scale dynamics of reef fish involves understanding the mechanisms and consequences of meta-population, and specifically source-sink, dynamics in these systems.

Elaine Baker is a Professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney. She holds the inaugural UNESCO Chair in Marine Science at the University of Sydney and is the Director of the University’s Marine Studies Institute. Professor Baker is also the Director of the GRID-­Arendal office (an official collaborating centre of UNEP) at the University.

Nathan Hart is an Associate Professor of Comparative Neurophysiology at Macquarie University and heads the Neurobiology Lab. The main focus of his research is the evolution and functional adaptation of animal sensory systems, especially vision.

Jingdong Yuan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. He specializes in Asia-Pacific security, Chinese defence and foreign policy, and global and regional arms control and non-proliferation issues. He is currently working on a book manuscript on post-Cold War Chinese security policy. Prior to joining CISS, Dr. Yuan served as Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program and was Associate Professor of International Policy Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College. In July-August 2009, he was a visiting senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore.

Justin Hastings is Professor in International Relations and Comparative Politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, where he is also affiliated with the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, the China Studies Centre, the Sydney Cyber Security Network, and the Centre of International Security Studies. From 2008 to 2010, he was an Assistant Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he remains affiliated with the Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy.


This closed workshop is hosted in partnership with the Australian Performance Exchange (APE) 澳洲表演艺术交流剧院 and Performosa (Taiwan) 演摩莎劇團 and Department of Theatre and Performance Studies.