Spring 2010

Sources of Contemporary Performance

Listed in: Theater and Dance, as THDA-20


Michael Birtwistle (Section 01)


The status quo says, “We do it the way it’s always been done.” The artist replies, “I have an idea, let’s try it another way.” Thus advance theater and dance. Thus evolve opera, happenings and performance art. This course explores several seminal theatrical events and the artists who created them. These innovations changed the course of theater and dance in the 20th century, thereby preparing those who follow to make the new art of the 21st.

After reviewing basic artistic and theoretical assumptions which governed the making of theatrical entertainment at the end of the 19th century, the course will look at playwrights, performers, choreographers, designers, directors and theorists whose ideas opened up new ways of looking at the craft of making those space-time objects we struggle to categorize as plays, dances, operas, performances and events. Particular attention will fall on work that is difficult to correctly place in a single category. Research in primary material such as plays, manifestos, documentary photographs, period criticism, and video transcriptions. Critical papers comparing and contrasting works will be studied. (Required of all majors)

Spring semester.  Professor TBA.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020