Seminar available to Cultural Studies Students
The performative turn of contemporary societies is regularly observed by cultural, performance and architectural theorists. Performance and installation art has long ago left the constraints of galleries and live performances have derived narratives from sites and human interactions at them. Taking the campus of Queen’s University as our specific site we will study its spaces as sites for performance. Cafeterias, study spaces, labs, stages and art galleries have been designed for specific performance by their users. There are, however, many spaces on campus that are not programmed. Some of these allow for encounters which contest the anonymity of our expanding campus. Locating and animating such spaces (including some that have lost their original use), will be an object of our study.
Students are expected to generate spatial experiments on campus, demonstrating potential site interactions. Research seminars, critical writing and a series of open studio workshops throughout the term will be methods used. No experience or formal training in theatre is prescribed.
Admission to the course by permission of the instructor: N. Rewa and by arrangement with the Department of Drama
“It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
of what is found there”
William Carlos Williams, “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”.
Director Peter Brook writes that the audience is a third eye whose presence must always be felt as a positive challenge, an accomplice to the action, “a constant participant through it’s awakened presence” (1993:18). The challenge Brook poses to those of us who create and perform stories is to consider all of our actions public, communal and witnessed.To become a witness is to be exposed, vulnerable, to have something at stake. This course will explore how to think about what is at stake for artists and those who work with them – educators, community members, archivists and curators - as translators of stories of public violence. We will examine how issues of performance relate to discussions in the fields of history, architecture, critical theory and psychoanalysis. We will study models of memorials, performance installations and theatre. No formal experience in theatre is necessary for the course.
Students will be expected to think and write critically, and to create and perform performance memorials. The central questions for the class are:
- Do we live in a "tragic" culture? What does this mean?
- What forms of theatre and representation do we consider "ok" when it comes to performing testimony or remembering violent histories? What is the role of the comedic or the absurd in intervening in a melancholic tragic telling of events?
- How is performing history an ethical practice? How is the aesthetic and content of a performance an ethical issue?
- What is involved in designing and executing performance memorials?
- What is the theatre’s role in making memory?
- What does it mean to explore and perform the stories of violent events with a focus on the perpetrator?
Please contact the instructor for permission to take this course.