Fall 2020

Elements of Performance: Perception and Analysis

Listed in: Theater and Dance, as THDA-230

Moodle site: Course


Ron Bashford (Section 01)


When we experience a performance, we synthesize a rich array of sensations and information at once, and through time.  Yet, artists employ a variety of different means to create their work, building it bit by bit.  This course explores various elements that practioners use in the making of theater and dance, with an emphasis on the role perception plays in audience experience of meaning and feeling.  Elements of performance will include basic “building blocks” of audience perception (temporal, spatial, visual, aural), leading to consideration of more complex tools and conventions, such as ritual, language, movement, music, design, and performing techniques.  This class will study larger formal conventions used in the structure of whole performances as they reflect artists' possible intentions.

Students will develop analytical skills in the interpretation of multi-layered performance works, and in doing so, extend their own artistic possibilities and appreciation as audience members. In particular, we will investigate how artists build performances to challenge audiences and their society.  Activities include reading and viewing, discussion, targeted writing assignments, and creative exercises to develop experiential understanding. 

We will encounter influential theorists and artists (performers, playwrights, directors, choreographers, designers, etc.), including women, queer artists, and artists of color.  Authors and artists under consideration for this course include Aristotle, Stanislavsky, Grotowski, Beckett, Pinter, Churchill, Brook, Kushner, Bausch, Cunningham, Ailey, Bogart, Bill T. Jones, Lehman, Jawole Zollar, and Anna Deavere Smith, among others.  Guest Theater and Dance faculty will join class discussions as related to their areas of expertise.  Two class meetings per week, with additional collaborative time outside of class required for some creative exercises.

Open to first-year students.  Fall semester. Professor Bashford.

Instruction for this course will take place online, supported by appropriate technology.  However, collaborative work may take place in a variety of formats, online and in-person.  Options for online-only participation will be available for those students unable to participate in person.


Artistic Practice, Attention to Writing, Fine Arts for Non-majors, Online Only


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020