How do artists make art? How do we evaluate it? In this course, students of all levels get to experience firsthand the particular challenges and rewards of art making through practical engagement with five fields — creative writing, visual art, theater, dance, and music — under the guidance of professionals.
In this studio course open to all, we'll dive into experiences in which body and language meet. We'll think about these from aesthetic, cultural, political, personal, and philosophical perspectives. We'll move and create together using tools from dance, theater, visual art, improvisation, somatic, and writing practices.
Telling stories through performance is human nature, but how can we use technology to enhance, frame, or reveal new perspectives on stories told? Students will learn about tools and techniques from design professionals, and will engage directly and collaboratively with technology to design experiences focused around live performance. Areas covered may include projections and multimedia, lighting, interactivity, and programming for creative applications. This class hopes to bring together students with arts and STEM backgrounds, and does not require prior experience.
A course on works of dramatic literature whose comparative dimension is theatrical performance. We will consider four Shakespeare plays covering a range of theatrical genres; the emphasis will be on the ways in which Shakespearean meaning can be elucidated when the reader becomes a performer. Students will move from the reading/performing of individual speeches to the staging of scenes to the question of how an overall theatrical conception for a play might be a key to the fullest understanding of the text. Students will write papers about their readings and performances; grades will be based on both the writing and the performing.
In this studio course, dancers will study the past, present, and future of rhythm tap dance by learning the techniques and Black American histories, traditions, and legacies that have established and continue to sustain the form. While learning fundamental steps and foundational routines, we will interact with various media curated to introduce some of rhythm tap's important people, happenings, and places.
Comedian Maysoon Zayid will transform students from boring to hilarious in under 14 weeks. Each comic will leave this class armed with a ready for primetime, original stand-up comedy set. The class will tackle how comedy intersects with under represented groups, how to make fun of your family and deal with being disowned, song parodies and politics, and will culminate in a final comedy show on campus.
In 1963, Lionel Abel invented the term "metatheater" to discuss self-referential, anti-illusionist devices—introduced, as he thought, by some Renaissance playwrights—which had become ubiquitous in the theater of his day. "Very meta!" was soon used to describe almost every play ever written. But some plays are more "meta" than others and the methods and motives of their authors vary considerably. This seminar will spend six weeks focused on Greek, Renaissance, and Modern examples of the genre before turning to contemporary American playwrights who have found new and often jaw-dropping uses for metatheatrics.
In his speeches and online presidential campaign, Joe Biden made repeated use of Seamus Heaney's lines about making "hope and history rhyme." Seamus Heaney, who died in August 2013, was rare among contemporary poets in having both a huge public following and the admiration of his peers: both a Wordsworthian romantic and a Joycean realist; an atheist in search of the miraculous; a cosmopolitan with a little patch of remembered earth; a lover of the archaic who could not escape the urgency of contemporary history. This course follows Heaney's rich career, placing him in the context both of modern Ireland and world literature.
This course explores the many different ways in which the whole idea of a distinctively Irish theatre has been transformed every few decades, from Wilde and Shaw's subversions of England, to the search of Yeats and Synge for an authentic rural Ireland, to the often angry critiques of contemporary Ireland by Murphy, Friel and Carr. Plays of the Irish diaspora (O'Neill and McDonagh) are examined in this context. The course will also explore the ways in which ideas of physicality and performance, including the popular spectacle of Riverdance, have conflicted with and challenged Irish theatre's peculiar devotion to poetic language.
An introduction to the art and craft of lighting design for the stage and an exploration of light as a medium for expression. Students will develop an ability to observe lighting in the world and on the stage; to learn to make lighting choices based on text, space, research, and their own responses; to practice being creative, responsive and communicative under pressure and in company; to prepare well to create under pressure using the designer's visual toolbox; and to play well with others-working creatively and communicating with directors, writers, performers, fellow designers, the crew and others.
This course charts a dominant motif of British stage comedy from the Restoration—when all hell broke loose with the return of the monarchy in 1660, the introduction of the actress, and the emergence of professional women playwrights—until the present day. We'll look at work by men and women celebrated for their always witty but often controversial representations of the sexual/romantic escapades of their contemporaries. Prepare to be disturbed as well as amused. One issue we'll want to consider: Why did men's work become canonical while their female colleagues, equally successful in their own day, were disappeared from the story?
This course will be a unique venture into dance culminating in a performance for the Princeton Dance Festival. This studio course explores dance-theatre practice to address the desires, needs, and realities of the body and it's greater community, centering the politics of self and group care. We will improvise in movement, somatics, vocal sound, song, spoken and written words, creating for and with each other, with the outcome being a greatly expanded skill set for the performing artist. Studio movement practice, creation and discussion will be supplemented by selected readings and out-of-studio creation as a practice of joy and resilience.
This course combines queer centered analysis of mid century American Drama and songwriting with student generated research and performance. Using Inge's plays Picnic and Dark at the Top of the Stairs, we will investigate the codes both real and imagined embedded in the work, and the narratives we assume, project on, and long for in the American theatre cannon.
Theater artists routinely bend, twist and break all kinds of rules to create the imaginary worlds they bring to life on stage. Why, then, has the American theater so struggled to meaningfully address questions of equity, diversity and inclusion? In this course, we undertake a critical, creative and historical overview of agitation and advocacy by theater artist-activists aiming to transform American theatre-making as both industry and creative practice.
Students will use Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th century classic, 'The Decameron' as a starting point from which to explore the fundamentals of storytelling and the ways in which storytelling helps us navigate traumatic experiences. This PIIRS Global Seminar is offered June 7 – July 2, 2021. Application required.
This course offers an intensive survey of gender crossings on the American musical theater stage. The course's study of American musicals (in terms of form, content and context) will be anchored in a historical exploration of world theatrical traditions of cross-gender performance. The course will examine multiple modes of cross-gender performance, while also considering musicals that stage gender role reversals and those that open questions of gender expression and identity.
The South African Anti-Apartheid movement saw mass resistance against the government's racial segregationist policies. Students will learn about the conditions that gave rise to Apartheid and the Anti-Apartheid movement, taking a look at the instrumental role that the performing arts and protest theatre played in dismantling the unjust system.
Race in French Theater will investigate the question of race and diversity on the French stages. We will study efforts made in recent years to diversify representations both on stage and in the audience, and examine the concrete steps taken by major institutions, subsidized national theaters, festivals, drama schools, and commercial theaters. We will compare similar current undertakings in the world of dance and at the Paris Opera, and broaden the scope of our inquiries by looking at representation and inclusion in French cinema.
This course offers an exploration of visual storytelling, combined with a grounding in the practical, communicative, collaborative and anti-racist skills necessary to create physical environments for live theater making. Students are mentored as designers, directors or creators (often in teams) on realized projects for the theater program season.
This course will be an investigative performance driven process resulting in a music theater performance, devised by the students. Led by faculty member and professional director and actor Elena Araoz, this theatrical exploration will adapt to the public health circumstances in which we find ourselves and will culminate in performances that incorporate singing and spoken word.
In this course, led by critically acclaimed comedy writer Albert Samuels, students will participate in the in-process television pitch used by Samuels' cutting-edge improvisation group, Baby Wants Candy, including finalizing concept and script and developing a strong pitch. By the end of the semester, BWC will have a finished pitch package the group will present to Netflix, Amazon, Comedy Central and other networks/outlets. Students will develop their own original television concepts both in teams and individually, and also create shorter material - e.g., desk bits for late night shows, online content, etc.
This course will use the reconstruction of Evelyn Brown, a movement piece by María Irene Fornés, to interrogate questions of female labor and its portrayal on stage. Fornés, arguably the most important Latina dramatist of the 20th century, sourced Evelyn Brown from the diary of an early 20th century New England domestic servant. The class will explore the relation of Evelyn Brown to Fornés' larger body of work and lead to deeper questions about staging mundane labor as performance during our time when labor inequality has grown exponentially. Our final project will be a first step to re-staging this little-known work in a professional venue.