COMP 303
Embodied Archives: Global Theatre & Performance Histories Fall 2021
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed THEA 301 / COMP 303

Class Details

What is the past good for? Why study theatre history now? What do the archival performance traditions, practices, and sources of yesterday have, if anything, to offer the theatre artists of today and tomorrow? Digging into these questions, this combined studio/seminar course will introduce students to major global theatre and performance histories by considering how they’ve been taken up–adapted, appropriated, recycled, critiqued, and re-appropriated–by artists working in the field now. Why does dramatist Luis Alfaro return to Sophocles’ Electra to tell a story about the experiences of Chicanx communities in L.A.? What does the playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins find compelling about the allegorical performances of English Medieval theatre? What role does traditional Korean dance ritual play in the experimental theatre of artist Young Jean Lee? How have collaborators at New York’s Public Theater sought to re-vitalize Shakespeare’s works through community-driven practices? Through comparative pairings such as these, we will study and draw inspiration from the ways contemporary dramatists, makers, directors, and performers have approached the theatrical forms and performance practices of the past in the effort to create new perspectives on the present. While attending to theatre’s formal and aesthetic aspects, we will at the same time focus on the relationship of performance to the enduring legacies of empire, state power, colonialism, and private capital in which they are historically embedded and by which they are shaped. If and when possible, we will encounter archival sources housed in College Archives and WCMA. As a final creative project, students will adapt, critique, or re-appropriate a source material of their own choosing. This course is required for Theatre majors and is a prerequisite for THEA 401.
The Class: Format: studio; This class is a combined studio/seminar. Students will be required to present and share their creative responses to the material studied in the course.
Limit: 16
Expected: 8-10
Class#: 1264
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: journal writing and active participation in class; a midterm creative adaptation project and accompanying "research casebook"; participation as discussion leader for one class; and a final creative adaptation or performance project and accompanying "research casebook."
Prerequisites: For Theatre majors: any 100 or 200-level theatre course.
Enrollment Preferences: Theatre majors; Comparative Literature majors
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
THEA 301 Division I COMP 303 Division I
DPE Notes: This course works to dismantle the ongoing bias in theatre studies that positions textual and literary forms of theatre in the globalized north as the dominant sites of knowledge transfer, status, and value in our field. Instead, theatre and performance are approached as diverse forms of repertoire and embodied knowledge that must be analyzed in relation to the structures of social inequity and power in which they historically arise.

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