|Course Type||Course Code||No. Of Credits|
Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon
Course Coordinator and Team: Deepan Sivaraman & Prof. Anuradha Kapur
Email of course coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-requisites: No prior knowledge assumed.
Performance studies has articulated a critique of knowledge and research to question their modes of production, transmission and accumulation by positioning the notion of performance as ‘episteme’, as a way of knowing reality. The notion of performance as embodied knowledge- as bodily movement and sensorial experience constitutes a specific realm of language, reason and modes of dissemination. Processes of signification thus arrived at resist fixity and encapsulation that characterize specific linguistic systems, narrative description, and traditional notions of scientific methodology. Practice as Research both within academic institutions in the form of research and in the ‘field’ as informed creative practice can be viewed as a creative/academic response to the larger twentith century phenomenon signalling a ‘turn to practice’. Within the academe, conventions of knowing, experiencing and recording (writing, documenting and reproducing) are constantly being challenged and appended for measuring the terms and meanings of the informational flux between social reality, its embodiment and expression through performance. The field of performance practice hasn’t remained untouched by this blurring of boundaries between creative practice and critical analysis, between epistemology and ontology. Conventional notions of theatre and performance practice have been problematised and reconfigured to think of preparatory work, production processes and time based cultural events like theatre production, installation, film, live art themselves as forms of research. At the very basis of PaR in performance is a dislocation of the understanding of knowledge as emanating strictly from abstract theorising and scientific rationality to accommodate action based investigations oriented towards practical engagement in the world.
Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
This week discusses the terms performance-practice-research and how performance has been seen as a critical way of producing and transmitting knowledge within the academe. The focus will be on laying the context for the emergence of the field of performance/theatre studies, its brief history and challenges, looking briefly at its genealogies, particularly in the Euro-American context. Many of the key terms that will be encountered through the course will be introduced and opened up for discussion.
The week locates PaR methodology within the Performance Studies’ critique of knowledge, its production and dissemination and discusses its premise as a paradigm shift within the discipline. A mapping of PaR conceptualisations and workings within British and American institutional contexts are examined.
A pioneering PaR Project PARIP (2001-06, University of Bristol), as documented and reflected upon by a participant artist, Bella Merlin and a leading Practitioner-Researcher Baz Kershaw provides the case for discussion on key ideas and concepts involved in PaR. the relationship between institutions, researchers and how they enable or obstruct the production of certain knowledges is also reflected upon.
The week looks at the historical understanding of knowledge and the privileging of the written word therein, right from the theorisation of Plato. Theories of phenomenolohy, post-structuralism and performativity within the western intellectual tradition are examined to look at ideas of self- reflexivity, experiential insights and ‘tacit knowledge’ for the purposes of Practice based research.
Performing archive- archiving performance
The week explores the notions of the archive and the repertoire and their relatuonship not sequentially but as forces that are in constant tension with one another that play themselves out through stagings of history, memory and conflict. the second reading provides a basis for the discussion on how the repertoire of embodied practices are translated through performance as important systems of knowing and transmitting historic data, experience and trauma.
Ways of Seeing: Towards Materiality in theatre/performance
The readings and discussions this week will focus on bringing back the notion of materiality: space, objects and bodies to bear upon the perception of performance and its transformative possibilities.
Being and creating: Towards a dramaturgical approach
The week looks at dramaturgy as a conceptual tool that forces a rearrangement of materials for performance: the objects of the archive, the landscape, texts and actors. Dramaturgical practice and attitude are considered ‘as research’, that bring the focus back on the processual and the interactive rather than the fixity of the product in performance making.
Performing History and heritage in postcolony.
The methods of PaR as put in practice in these two performance- research projects help an understanding of organising practice, archival materials, repertoire of images, bodily experiences and how these are translated as research in the form of a written document.
Performance, Document and Documentation
The week returns to discuss the making of the archive, through documentation practices. Documentation of PaR projects, as distinct from commonsensical understanding of the term takes into account corporeal or embodied documentation as in the actor’s body and notions of time/memory, space/embodiment within time-bound live events as well as performances that are durational, use multi-media, are site specific etc.
Physicality and Embodiment
The week investigates the Research models of key modern actor trainers like Eugino Barba, Grotowski and Stanislavsky that hinges on modes of embodiment and representation.
Politics, Aesthetics and transformation: Critical-Affective readings of performance
Institutionalized culture and cultural politics: Theatre of the Roots (Indian Theatre)
The week focuses on the construction of historical models of modern Indian theatre practice within an institutional framework of cultural politics, representation and funding surrounded by the debates on national culture and politics of language.
Feminist strands in Theatre Praxis: Case of women’s Theatre in Modern Indian Theatre
The week explores tools and techniques that researcher-practitioners use in body-centred performance research to explore their prevalence, purpose and organization. The work of three women theatre practitioners is considered to account for the ways in which they position the body as interpretable and flexible, yet materially and culturally specific in performances directed by them to create a feminist aesthetics.
This week will examine the emerging theorizations of curation within the performance studies context. Moving on from the visual arts perspective of curation and the figure of the curator or arts administrator, the notion of the ‘curational’ is posited as that which is inherent to the process of art making. what do these practices of curation- that are tied up with issues of internationalization, travel, collaboration, funding etc are central to contemporary performance making and can lend themselves to research.
Assessment Details with weights:
Students will be assessed for their overall understanding of the course and their contribution towards performances, group discussions and knowledge sharing. Attending weekly lectures and presentations are vital and any absence may affect the grades.
*All students must participate in all course assessments to obtain a passing course grade.