|No. Of Credits
Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon
Course Coordinator and Team: Benil Biswas
Email of course coordinator: benil[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in
Pre-requisites: The students should be aware of debates, modes of analysis, and practices in Performance Studies. They would have received some of this through courses studied in the first two semesters. MA Students from any discipline can credit this course as an Elective, provided they demonstrate a keen interest in the course content.
Reading/Decoding Performance is an important component of the Performance Studies Programme. Its primary focus is to critically and creatively investigate performances and enable students to represent these investigations in writing. The course will involve two significant activities: (i.) watching performances, and (ii.) reading analogous critical texts which will provide lenses and methods through which these performances can be read/decoded.
The course will work with the assumption that methodologies to study performance might be as numerous as the kinds of performances themselves. Given this, the readings prescribed for the course will be selective rather than comprehensive. The readings will engage with a wide variety of disciplinary methods with an emphasis on careful study. Student participation in class will take four key forms: Presence, Reading, Discussion, Writing. Through class discussions, one presentation, two response papers, a curated performance diary, and a term paper, students will be encouraged to hone their skills in performance analysis which brings together attentive scrutiny of the materiality of performance with sophisticated critique.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
Mapping the terrain: Introduction to Reading and Decoding Performance
The week will be an introduction to the course through watching and discussing basic elements of Performance analysis- that is Reading and Decoding. Student will be familiarised with the four key forms: Presence, Reading, Discussion, Writing. It will be attained through class discussions, one presentation, two response papers, a curated performance diary, and a term paper
Week 2 & 3
These two weeks will take us further into the concept of Archive and Repertoire, while we develop our skills of describing a performance.
Week # 4: Decoding Performance and Semiology
This week we will explore the possibility of ‘semiology of performance’, as essentially analysing a performance would mean to be in a position to understand the signs and symbols encoded with the body of the performance and what it implies.
Week # 5 : Documentation, Reportage and Reconstruction in Performance
We also tend to focus on the debate between reportage and reconstruction of performance. We also tend to focus on the debate between reportage and reconstruction of performance in analysis.
Activity: We will watch a short performance once in the classroom and students will be advised to take down notes. One will prepare an essay based on that viewing and present it to the class.
Week # 6: Actor/Performer and Mimesis
As the actor/performer is at the centre of mise- en-scene, we will analyse the actor and acting per say to make meaning in a performance. Further exploring possibilities to read an actor body in a dance, mime, theatre, dance theatre.
Week # 7: Mise-en-Scene in Performance
We would explore various reading and watch performance to understand the idea of the mise-en-scene and how it works, led by Deepan Sivaraman. We will critically look at a performance piece delving into the meaning of mise-en-scene.
Week # 8: Space, Time and Action
We would explore how in a performance, we see that the time, space and action interacts with each other in performance. The exploration would further be to understand how it translates on stage (Materiality) to the extent of the fiction and imagined (experiential). One would explore the concept of ‘Chonotopes’ by Bakhtin.
Week # 9: Dynamics of Smell, Touch and Taste.
We will explore the possibility of how the above mentioned ingredients of performance in analysis adds on or appeals to our senses of smell, touch and taste.
Week # 10: Approaches I: Psychoanalytical and Sociological
Though the major ingredients are already explored but to contextualize all these one has to locate oneself within the circumstance of the psychological, sociological, anthropological and intercultural approaches. These are distinct but complementary methods, which enables us to bridge the gap between the visible exploration of the craft and the cerebral exploration of the perspective.
We will revisit the already explored components of performance with the cited examples from these approaches.
Week # 11: Approaches II: Anthropological and Intercultural
Week # 12: Performance, Practice, Knowledge and Academia
Week # 13: Towards the praxis of Reading/Decoding Performance.
We will explore the arena of contemporary performance practice in India, and students will be encouraged to analyze performance and along with that, the students will prepare the final submission and draft of MA Dissertation Proposal. Requirements for the final submission:
1. It should be analysis of a performance which has not been written upon.
2. The performance should have a proper documentation, which has to be attached with the submission.
Sontag, Susan. Against Interpretation. New York: Dell, 1967.
Bathes, Roland. Image, Music, Text, (trans. Stephen Heath). London: Fontana, 1977. http://harvardmagazine.com/2007/09/writing-as-performance.html http://www.carolinebergvall.com/content/text/BERGVALL-KEYNOTE.pdf
Assessment Details with weights:
This course requires a substantial amount of reading, writing, viewing performance (video and live). Each week we will read, respond to theoretical approaches and address some specific issues about documenting and analysing performance.
As a 4 credit course, it will run for 2 hours per day for 2 days a week. Every fortnight, one of the 2 hours session may be conducted as a seminar/workshop, where students are required to make presentations/have performance workshop. The activities for each week will include four important steps:
1. Lecture and assigned readings
2. Weekly presentations
3. Class discussion and critique of assigned readings and presentations.
4. Discussion and analysis of video screenings and performances watched/experienced.
The assessment involves students submitting two home assignments (one could be a book review or performance analysis), Presentation, One end-semester paper. These require no outside reading (other than the assigned readings and discussions in the class i.e. Each week we will read and respond to theoretical approaches and address some specific issues about studying key figures and practices in
 If you want to audit the course, you still have to complete the presentation and assignments.