How does the use of one’s imagination spark social and systemic change in the world? What does it mean to devote one's life to this kind of work? Blurring the lines between the creative and political experience, students will be introduced to the radical contemporary practices that interdisciplinary artists use to build creative, impactful lives. Our texts will include live and recorded performances, as well as historical and theoretical secondary sources. Every other week the class hosts an artist talk series featuring pioneering artists.
The writer Annie Dillard says that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. With school as we know it upended, we have a unique opportunity to develop daily habits that contribute to lifelong independent learning and creating. We will look at practice as both verb and noun, paying special attention to the ways we embody the work (and change) we want to see in the world. Through somatic activities, talks with invited guests, projects, and readings (across the arts, sciences, philosophy, religion, and activism), we'll revel in the interplay between process and product, solitude and community, structure and freedom, life and art.
Modern queer writers have long written about the rich and complicated relationship straight cis women have had with queer men. And yet, outside of queer literary circles, little attention has been paid to how these relationships challenge or replicate traditional family structures, and form a community outside of the status quo. We will examine the stories male writers constructed and analyze women writers who held a mirror up to those straight and queer men who were drawn to lesbian culture. By examining photography and painting, we will further look at the artist's relationship to and identification with queerness, or straight female power.
This course introduces students to set and costume design for performance, exploring theater as a visual medium. Students will develop their ability to think about the physical environment (including clothing) as key components of story-telling and our understanding of human experience. Students will expand their vocabulary for discussing the visual world and work on their collaborative skills.
Theater relies on the physical and emotional vulnerability of live bodies to experience the pity andterror that plague, war, systemic injustice, and more ordinary forms of disease and death inflict. As we face the twin pandemics of our own time, what can "plague drama" (prompted by outbreaks of typhus, bubonic plague, cholera, AIDS, etc.) tell us about how writers use literal and metaphorical diseases to give shape to a given cultural moment? We'll look at a wide variety mostly theatrical texts to explore how playwrights use the medium of the theater to literally embody and thus make visible physical, social, and metaphysical "dis-ease".
In a universe filled with movement, how and why and where might we find relative stillness? What are the unique aesthetic, political, and daily life possibilities while school as we know it is on pause? We’ll dance, sit, question, and create practices and projects. We’ll play with movement within stillness, stillness within movement, stillness in performance and in performers' minds. We’ll look at stillness as protest and power. We’ll wonder when stillness might be an abdication of responsibility. We'll read widely within religions, philosophy, performance, disability studies, social justice, visual art, sound (and silence).
This course is a laboratory space for intentional community where we focus on the creative process in making movement-based performance and dance. I offer prompts for you to make short performances and then we reverse engineer your process through a series of questions. We are interested in understanding how our work sits inside of the contemporary context. We will critique, absorb and discard inherited notions of dance in the service of creating pieces that come from a vital and necessary place. Reading ranges from artist statements to critical theory and you will watch works on video that reframe ideas of the choreographic.
In a joint project with students from Fordham University, Georgetown University, Purchase College, and UMass-Amherst, students will create a virtual new media response to Naomi Wallace' play One Flea Spare. This story about strangers quarantining together during London's 17th Century Great Plague, will provoke our wild artistic departure about our own communities' social iniquities, abuses of power, classism, racism, burden on essential workers, fake science, and questions about who can afford to survive a plague and the boundaries of gender and the body. Absolutely no theatre or performance experience necessary, just a desire to be creative.
From the spirits and banshees of oral legends to Bram Stoker's Dracula, from the classic works of Yeats, Synge and Beckett to Garth Ennis's Preacher comics and Anne Rice's Vampire novels, Irish culture has been haunted by the Otherworld. Why has the Irish Gothic had such a long ghostly afterlife on page and stage? Can we learn something about modernist works like those of Yeats and Beckett by seeing them through the perspective of popular fictions of the supernatural?
A continuation of work begun in Introductory Playwriting, in this class, students will complete either one full-length play or two long one-acts (40-60 pages) to the end of gaining a firmer understanding of characterization, dialogue, structure, and the playwriting process. In addition to questions of craft, an emphasis will be placed on the formation of healthy creative habits and the sharpening of critical and analytical skills through reading and responding to work of both fellow students and contemporary playwrights of note.
Performance and crisis have always been partners: entangled in epidemics, state violence and resistance, and austerity regimes, as well as the crisis ordinariness of settler colonialism and structural racism. This seminar examines performance in our extraordinary present using autoethnography, ethnography, and interviews.
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.
A so-called invisible city, Trenton is one of the poorest parts of the state, but intimately connected to Princeton. Examining the historical and contemporary racisms that have shaped Trenton, we will hear from activists, policy makers, artistic directors, politicians, and artists. Readings include texts about urban invisibility, race, community theater, and public arts policy. The course will follow the development of a new play by Trenton's Passage Theater, about a community-organized sculpture that was removed over "concerns" about "gang" culture. Students will conduct field interviews and work alongside dramatists and playwrights.
This course explores models of producing and collaboration in the professional theater, with an emphasis on the relationship between reading and producing plays. Students will examine a wide variety of classic and contemporary plays and musicals as literature written for production with a detailed appreciation for what production entails, and will develop an understanding of the aesthetic, dramaturgical and values-based choices involved in producing theater.
As an art form, theater operates in the shared space and time of the present moment while also manifesting imagined worlds untethered by the limits of "real" life. In this course, we undertake a critical, creative, and historical survey of the ways contemporary theater-making in the United States — as both industry and creative practice — does (and does not) engage the most urgent concerns of contemporary American society.
This course will explore, through theory and (especially) practice, the rewriting/revising of plays, screenplays and teleplays. Students will begin the semester with a written piece of dramatic material that they wish to develop further. Through discussion, writing exercises, group feedback, and the study of existing scripts, each student will devise a revision process that is appropriate for their material and emerge with a new draft.
Why do some BIPOC dramatists (from the US and Canada) choose to adapt/revise/re-envision/deconstruct/rewrite/appropriate canonical texts from the Western theatrical tradition? While their choices might be accused of re-centering and reinforcing "white"narratives that often marginalize and/or exoticize racial and ethnic others, we might also see this risky venture as a useful strategy to write oneself into a tradition that is itself constantly being revised and reevaluated and to claim that tradition as one's own. What are the artistic, cultural, and economic "rewards"for deploying this method of playmaking? What are risks?
How do you connect your verbal and your visual brain? This course will be a series of provocations to making art. Black playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and White lighting designer Jane Cox will lead the group in connected investigations in writing and lighting as well as intertwined historic and aesthetic notions of Whiteness and Blackness. We will focus our imagination on theatrical and poetic connotations of dark and light as well as the production and philosophies of light. Classes will consist of discussions and creative exercises, and we will work towards a showing of creative projects at the end of the semester.
How might our obsession with convenience constrict our humanity? Is it possible to critique and dismantle systems of oppression from within? How do we reconcile the artist's need to enter into the experience of the Other with the need to be aware of structural inequities and the asymmetrical distribution of power? Join Christine Jones and Gabriel Kahane for a semester-long exploration of how we may aspire to change the world through art-making in a moment widely described as dystopian.