Special Topics (Group A)

Special Seminar Topics - Summer 2021

DRM387H1 S Race, Gender & Performance

This online course will enable students to look at performance in generative new ways by introducing them to theoretical frameworks and critical perspectives from postcolonial theory and queer theory, critical race studies and gender studies. As well as learning to apply these critical tools to everyday acts of performance and canonical works in theatre and performance art, students will be introduced to work in activist performance and feminist, queer, and anti-racist performance art from outside the canon.

Instructor: Sarah Robbins
Prerequisite: DRM101Y
Recommended Preparation: DRM220Y
S term: Tuesday & Thursday 6-8pm
CAP: 35

Special Seminar Topics 2021-2022

DRM385H1 S Radical Performance Art: Local, Global, and Digital

This course focuses on the transformation of the radical in performance art from the politically engaged, anti-commercial aesthetics of the 1970s to the current mainstream business which may still act an effective political tool in the globalized world of the 21st century. We’ll look at the radical in social and political life through performance art's radical lens.  We'll examine the works of artists such as Marina Abramovic, Rebecca Belmore, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and Coco Fusco (to name just a few) to probe their interventionist capacity. 

To address these issues, we will ask how the artists' social and political position – and their intersectional identities – has changed concerning the local and global audience. Our comparative analysis will open a conversation about performance art's ability to maintain radicalism while participating in the highly organized global art market and cultural industry. The seminar encourages critical thinking and creativity through the active participation of the students in discussions, a creative project presentation, and a final essay.

Prerequisite: 4.0 FCE (priority for DRM Majors, Minors & Specialists)
Recommended Preparation: DRM220Y1
S term: Mondays, 6pm–9pm
CAP: 35

DRM487H1 S/ DRA3905H S Photography of and as Performance

As the preferred medium for the documentation and dissemination of early Performance Art, photography largely informs our knowledge and understanding of this body of work. Until recently, however, little attention has been given to performance photography as a distinctive photographic practice, treating it instead merely as a more or less accurate access point into work taken to exist outside and independently of the photographic. In an attempt to complicate this naïve understanding of the relation between live event and photographic documentation, in this seminar course we will examine the photographic record of 1960s and 1970s Performance Art in relation to the photographic practices associated with a number of contemporaneous movements, such as Conceptual Art and Land Art, that shared Performance Art’s commitment to dematerialization as well as its reliance on photographic mediation. We will think about photography itself as a nexus of performative practices—the photographer’s, the subject’s, and the viewer’s—and consider how these various practices come to bear on our ways of engaging with performance photography.  

Instructor: Francesco Gagliardi
Prerequisite: 10.0 FCE and DRM220Y1 (priority for DRM Majors & Specialists)
S term: Tuesdays, 10am–1pm
CAP: 8

Previous Special Seminar Topics 2020-2021

DRM386H1 S Performing Science Fiction
Instructor: Sanja Vodovnik

This course focuses on North American and European sf megatext (cf. Broderick 1995) from the 20th and 21st century and aims to introduce participants to a broad spectrum of sf performance. Beginning with the turn of the 20th century and plays by Karel Čapek, through radio plays and Klingon Opera, all the way to contemporary productions, the course will traverse selected materials from the past(s) and consider possible futures of science fiction in theatre and performance. In addition to exploring plays and theatre productions of sf texts, readings/discussions will also address more performative aspects of sf, such as human-robot interactions (on/off stage), immersive sf theatre and World Fairs. The seminar aims to encourage participants to consider ways of thinking about and understanding science fiction (sf) in media-specific landscapes and cultural contexts.

DRM388H1 S Performing For Change: Equity, Activism, and Radical Approaches to Performance
Instructor: Jessica Watkin

This course is designed to engage and expand students’ understanding of what performance can do to contribute to social change while opening up the ways that is possible through these framing questions:

  1. What constitutes theatre and/or performance? What constitutes “social change”? What can we learn from historical contexts of performance and social change?
  2. What are the relationships between performance and activism? What can we learn about both while focusing on their relationships?
  3. How do artists that exist on the margins of society make meaning, carve out space for themselves, and what can we learn from them?
  4. What is the relationship between digital performance and social change? How can we challenge and adapt with the uprising of virtual performance?

Through close analysis during lecture of both theory (theatre and performance studies, black feminist theory, critical disability and care studies, Indigenous protocols and models) and practical examples of performances of social change (The Disabled U.S. Citizens “Die-Ins”, Making Treaty 7, Antigone in Ferguson) students are invited to work together to challenge, dismantle, and co-create knowledge.

DRM487H1 / DRA3904H F Puppets and the Puppeteers
Instructor: Xing Fan

How do artists, audiences, and scholars understand and engage with puppetry? How do puppets combine anthropomorphic elements with craftsmanship, engineering, and technology? How do puppeteers define their roles, artistry, and the aesthetics of their puppets? This course offers an examination of the philosophical, historical, cultural, political, and technological dimensions of puppetry and material performance in a global context. Some important themes include different kinds of puppet practices; scholarly efforts that constantly reshape puppet historiography; transformations of puppet traditions; the art of operation and the theatricality of the performing object; and the imagination of puppetry in new physical and virtual venues. Course activities include lectures, presentations, discussions, projects, and engagement in the BMO Lab. Students will have the opportunity to explore topics of their interest.  

Previous 2019-2020 Special Seminar Topics

DRM385H1 F: Seminar: Performing Sport - The Athlete, The Artist
Instructor: Christine Mazumdar

“To bring the expectations that arise from an artistic interpretation to sport distorts sport” (Edgar, Sport and Art). Blurring the boundaries between sport and art, the focal point of this course is this very distortion. Some examples of aesthetic sports include artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, figure skating, and synchronized swimming. While it is not uncommon to hear the term “artist” used in reference to these aesthetic athletes, what happens if the audience does bring an artistic interpretation to non-aesthetic sports—can an MLB pitcher or an NHL goalie be considered an artist as well? Considering the evaluative processes established in aesthetic sport—more specifically, the complications and contradictions that arise from trying to quantify the technical (the objective) and the artistic (the subjective)—and implementing them to non-aesthetic disciplines, this course will consider the inherent interconnectivity between sports and performance, and athletes and artists.

Prerequisite: 4.0 FCE(priority for DRM Majors, Minors & Specialists)
Recommended Preparation: DRM220Y1/DRM230Y1
F term: Mondays, 5pm–8pm

DRM386H1 S – Seminar: Dance and Politics

This course introduces students to the field of critical dance studies by examining bodily movement as a social, cultural, and political practice. Drawing examples from concert dance, social dance, ritual practice, and choreographies of protest, we will engage with questions such as: How does dance express belonging and exclusion, and participation in the making of modern national states and their subjects? How does choreography by Black and Indigenous activists build community, express dissent, and enact world-making? Readings drawn from the fields of dance studies, performance studies, and critical race and gender studies will be complemented by screenings, movement experiments, and viewings of live dance performance. The goal of the course is to develop critical methods for analyzing embodied politics of movement, on and off the stage.

DRM387H1 F Seminar: Experimental Music-Theatre
Instructor: Nikki Cesare Schotzko

A genre that emerged in the 1960s and fell out of favour shortly after, “music-theatre” comprises, broadly, productions in which “spectacle and dramatic impact are emphasized over purely musical factors,” as Robert P. Morgan writes in Twentieth-Century Music. We will be engaging this definition of music-theatre (and noting the distinction from musical theatre) through its historical precedents (Richard Wagner’s epic music-dramas), the crossover between “new music” and performance art (John Cage, Yoko Ono, Alison Knowles). In particular, we will explore work from the last five to ten years, including that by Sarah Hennies, Du Yun, d’bi.young anitafrika, Christian Marclay, Janet Cardiff, and Raven Chacon, among others.

We will also collaborate with students in Professor Norbert Palej’s graduate composition course in the Faculty of Music, meeting bi-weekly in a music-theatre creation lab, and in January 2020, perform a collective-creation piece as part of the Faculty of Music’s annual New Music Festival.

DRM388H1 S Seminar: Burlesque Theory, History, and Practice
Instructor: Jessica Thorp

This course explores the rich history of burlesque performance from the Victorian era to the present-day’s neo-burlesque movement. We will trace the lineage of this style of performance from the first incarnations of American Burlesque in the 1860s, to the heyday of classic burlesque striptease, to the revival in the late 1990s and growing popularity in the 2000s. We will also look forward to currently emerging subgenres. In investigating this style of performance, we will examine questions of race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will explore tensions between what is considered respectable theatre and what is seen as low-brow or tawdry theatre.

Course readings will present differing, even conflicting views of burlesque performance and performers, striptease and sex work, the male gaze, and feminism. The class format will be a mixture of lecture and discussion with some movement work. Guest artists and lecturers will also attend class throughout the term. Students will have the opportunity in their final assignments to either write a formal essay or to create a burlesque performance piece and to submit an artist’s statement and process journal. 

DRM487H1 S – Livestreaming with (DDL)2: Artistic and Professional Explorations of a Digital Media Challenge
Instructor: Antje Budde 

Increasingly, theatre practitioners (performers, dramaturgs, directors, designers, scholars, writers, and producers, etc.) are asked to participate in online, web-based live stream auditions, job interviews and present creative ideas to festival programmers or performance venues. They are expected to efficiently present themselves and their ideas through live-stream media.

Our innovative course explores both critical discourses but also practices of live stream performance, internet theatre documentation and job interview situations. Students will be building and practicing professional, creative and critical analytical skills, when conceptualizing and performing live-stream tasks. This includes critical writing, technical skills in terms of setup, the use of equipment (sound, light, camera, post-production), digital post-production and representation strategies/performance. This is a project of Professor Budde’s creative research hub Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared or (DDL)2, and is co-funded by the Provost’s ITIF Fund and CDTPS.

DRM488H1 F – Seminar: Black Playwrights: Resistance, Resilience and Transformation  
Instructor: Djanet Sears

An exploration of dramatic literature by writers from the African Diaspora (Canada, USA, UK and the Caribbean) from 1959 to the present. The course will identify a selection of playwrights central to the development of Black drama, their plays, and preformative practices. Emphasis will be placed on dramaturgical analysis, sociohistorical context, the author’s influences, and relevant critical writing, in order to evaluate these works as sites of social resistance, cultural resilience, and aesthetic transformation. Readings include works for the stage by Lorraine Hansberry,Wole Soyinka, August Wilson, Derek Walcott, Debbie Hunter Green, George Elliott Clarke, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Walter Borden, Jocelyn Bioh, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Ntozake Shange.