Space & Spectatorship

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2PS2044

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon

Course Coordinator and Team: Deepan Sivaraman

Email of course coordinator: deepan[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: No prior knowledge assumed.

Course Objectives/Description:

Space is a social product and the nature of this space will vary according to the values, habits, ideology and social practices of a group, in the particular historical moment of their production. All these factors need to be considered when analysing spatial practice. In this course we will address these issues of spatial construction looking at variety of performance spaces from a historical, socio political, metaphysical and geographic perspective. It will discuss the sacredness, interactivity, power, politics, gender and aesthetics of performance spaces. The key feature of this course is it deals with practice as well as theoretical studies. It encourage the students to produce experimental performances guided by the course leader in the context of establish spatial theories of performance. Through a number of performance practice, lecture series, performance watching and debates students will study the taxonomy of the spatial conventions of building based theatre; tracking the shift from stage space to performance spaces both within and outside theatre buildings, analysing the site specificity of environmental theatre, engaging with the philosophy of theatre in found spaces, and engage with the hyper realities of immersive and virtual spaces.

Course Outcomes:

  • Learn the configuration of performance spaces across time and culture looking closely how the spatiality influences the spectatorship.
  • Learn how to make performance exploring space as the starting point.
  • Learn to collaborate with fellow artists.
  • Learn the language of theatre of scenography
  • Learn how to critically reflect upon theatre practice through writing.
  • Learn professional skills of managing a theatre performance.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Week 1 – 2

Spaces and spectatorship in Indian performance tradition.

Week 3-4

Emergence of proscenium, theatre trade and class based viewership.

Week 4-5

Proscenium and its influence over post-colonial Indian theatre

Week 6-7

Spatiality of site specific and environmental performances

Week 8- 9

Alternative spaces of 20th century Avant- Garde theatre

Week 10-14

During the last four weeks of the course students will be devising a theatre performance inspired by a literary work directed by the course leader.

Assessment Details with weights:

assessment involves students presenting their weekly readings and taking part in a performance practice and reflective writing. Students are also expected to actively involve in the discussions and the process of play making.

  • Class participation and attendance: 30%
  • Class presentation: 20%
  • Performance participations – 30%
  • Reflective paper: 20%

*All students must participate in all course assessments to obtain a passing course grade.


Reading List:

  • Bablet, D. and Bablet, M.L., 1982. Adolphe Appia 1862-1928: actor - space - light. London: John Calder.
  • Bachelard, G. 1994. The Poetics of Space, trans. M. Jolas. Boston: Beacon Press
  • Brook, p., 1990. The Empty Space, London: Penguin Books.
  • Collins, J. and Nisbet, A., 2010. Theatre and performance Design- A Reader in Scenography, London: Routledge
  • Condee, F. W., 1995. Theatrical Space, Maryland: Scarecrow Press.
  • Foucault, M. and Miskowiec, J. 1986. Of Other Spaces,
  • Grotowski, J. (1975) Towards a Poor Theatre, London: Methuen Drama.
  • Hunter, V., 2005. Embodying the Site: the here and now in site-specific dance performance, New Theatre Quarterly 21(4), pp. 367-81
  • Kantor, T., 1993. A Journey Through Other Spaces: Essays and Manifestos, 1944-1990, California: University of California Press.
  • Kaye, N., 2000. Site- Specific Art: Performance, place and documentation. London: Routledge
  • Massey, B. D., 1994. Space, Place and Gender, Minniapolis: University of Minnesota Press
  • Massey, B. D., 2005. For Space, London: Sage Publications.
  • McAuley, G., 1999. Space in Performance: Making meaning in the theatre. Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press
  • Panchal, G., 1984. Koothambalam & Koodiyattom, New Delhi: Sangeetha Nadaka Academy.
  • Richmond, P. F. Swann, L. D. and Zarilli, B. P. Eds., 1993. Indian theatre traditions of performance, New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publications.
  • Rugg, J., 2010. Exploring Site Specific – Issues of Space and Internationalism. New York: I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd
  • Schechner, R. 1994. Environmental Theatre. New York: Applause
  • Awasthi, S., 1988 ‘Theatre of Roots’-Encounter with Tradition, TDR, vol. 33 No. 4.
  • Kapur, A., 2006. Actors, Pilgrims, Kings and Gods: The Ramlila of Ramnagar. London: Seagull Books.
  • Pichel, I. 1925. Modern Theatres, Harcourt Brace: New York
  • Guthrie, T., 1964. Argument for the stage, World Theatre XIII: 1&2 (Spring and Summer)
  • Karnad, G., 1989. Theatre in India, Daedalus, Vol.118, No 4