What responsibility does theatre have to its local community or to the greater public? How is theatre an inherently “social practice”? Is “socially engaged art” just a fancy term for community theatre? When do good intentions lead to good art? Tackling these questions through both a seminar and experiential-based educational format, students will consider the aesthetics and ethics of performance as a model of “social practice.” As a major component of the course, Williams students will team up and collaborate with elementary school children from our regional school districts to devise a work of theatre that engages both the Williams College and Berkshire-wide communities. In the seminar component, students will conduct and share independent research on artists (Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Santiago Sierra, Francis Alÿs, Tino Sehgal, Theaster Gates, Paul Chan), theatre collectives and outreach initiatives (Bread and Puppet, The TEAM, Public Works, Gorilla Girls, Sojourn Theatre, The Neofuturists, 600 Highwaymen, Rimini Protokoll), as well as community-based initiatives in our local art institutions (WCMA, Mass MoCA, The Clark). Critics and theorists to be addressed in the course may include: Allan Kaprow, Theodor Adorno, Augusto Boal, Nicolas Bourriaud, Jacques Rancière, Shannon Jackson, Claire Bishop, Grant Kester, Nato Thompson, Jill Dolan, Pablo Helguera, and Guillermo Gomez-Peña. Note: this course requires that all enrolled students be able to attend one weekly class meeting that meets outside of the Division of the Day hours, so as to be able to collaborate with elementary school children.
The Class: Format: seminar/laboratory
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly writing and active, in-class participation; 20-minute oral presentation and handout based on independent research; one leading/teaching of a "rehearsal" with school-age children; creating and performing in a collaborative work of social practice; 10- to 12-page final paper.
Enrollment Preferences: Theatre Majors
Unit Notes: this is both a studio and seminar course, with both a workshop/lab and discussion
Distributions: Division I
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- THEA 280 - Theatre As Social Practice