I want to start with a question:
Can you briefly summarize some of the aspects involved in teaching performance? (note I didn’t say “problems” or “issues,” just yet)
In alphabetical order.
4. mindfulness (patience in observation)
Here are some thoughts that I have been cooking up. I’d like to add to them soon.
Aspects of teaching performance:
-Because I sometimes feel at sea when thinking about this topic, I attempt to ground myself and locate my work within the academy by thinking about the genealogy of theatre studies, as outlined by Shannon Jackson in Professing Performance. I often conceive of the discipline as a sort of variegated feast containing a bit of rhetoric, some literature, traces of historiography, some anthropology/ethnography….plus the flexibility to create a space in which to flesh out the text as a potential or actual production.
-The degree of performance practice included in our courses may vary – at my institution, for example, the students have a conservatory curriculum, and we are their history/literature/criticism component. I am interested in how different teachers create a balance between the ‘scholarly’ component (in which we sit at desks and clear our throats and wear glasses and ‘analyze’ things) and the practice component, which ideally should lead to revelations as well, albeit of different kinds and through different methods/routes.
-Creativity, contrary to what some academicians might believe, does not take students away from ‘rational’ analytical thought but rather frequently brings them back to the analytical questions through different angles of approach. For example, in a class that I was teaching on theatre and psychology, we discussed ways to stage ‘childhood’ in Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. One student proposed that the roles of children be played by adults, and those of adults by children. When pressed to explain what he meant by this, he opened up a fascinating discussion of the ways that childhood has been distorted, repressed, questioned, and fundamentally queered in the play. Others then began to echo these staging choices with their own suggestions on how to stage a world in which human development has gone awry and no one is spared.
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