Upcoming Events

October 20, 2015: Maurya Wickstrom

Black Spartacus: Césaire, C.L.R.James, and the New Present

vertieres This talk is derived from a book project that advocates the re-thinking of time as a political urgency. It looks to theatre and performance for a singular kind of exploration of radical temporalities. These temporalities – penultimate time, kairos, and the new present – are presented as experiences, and new forms of politics, with the potential to challenge chronological and capitalist time.

The talk itself will focus on two plays about the Haitian revolution, which took place alongside of and in deadly tension with the French Revolution and its ideals. The first is Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History by C.L.R. James, Trinidadian author of the Black Jacobins, and an internationalist, Pan-Africanist, and revolutionary socialist. The second is The Tragedy of King Christophe: A Play, by the founder of the Francophone Negritude movement, Martiniquean Aimé Césaire. The former premiered in 1936 and the latter in 1963. Both plays are explored against the genre designations they are given, including “tragedy” or “chronicle play” or “history play”. Instead, they are treated as a resurgence of the slave Spartacus in Louverture that opens a revolutionary new present in Saint-Domingue (later renamed Haiti). This new present unfolds within, and in opposition to, the temporal logic of French, English and Spanish colonial expansion and its dependence on slavery, the accumulation of private property and European nationalism.

Maurya Wickstrom is currently teaching as a Visiting Professor in the Yale School of Drama’s Dramaturgy Department. She is on sabbatical leave from the City University of New York where she is Professor of Theatre at the Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island. She is the author of Performing Consumers: Global Capital and Its Theatrical Seductions (Routledge 2006) and Performance in the Blockades of Neoliberalism: Thinking the Political Anew (Studies in International Performance series: Palgrave Macmillan 2012). Her articles and essays have been published in Theatre Journal, TDR:The Drama Review, Performance Research, Modern Drama and others, as well as in edited volumes. Her book, Fiery Temporalities in Theatre and Performance: The Initiation of History is forthcoming from Bloomsbury Methuen Drama’s Engage series.

October 13, 2015: Christopher Grobe

Why It’s “Easier to Act with a Telephone than a Man”

IMG_0042Among theater critics, then among their film counterparts, a strange consensus emerged in the early 20th century: the greatest performances were drawn out of actors by a particular scene partner, the telephone. “If I could figure out why, I’d write an essay on the subject,” wrote theater critic George Jean Nathan in 1928. The telephone, this talk argues, was like a set of training wheels, steadying many actors’ first wobbly attempts at realism. Only when acting with a telephone, as one actress relates, can you learn to exist “subconsciously” onstage.

Scholars tend to present technology as a disruptive force, one that can deconstruct the deep and centered self. The opposite is true, though, in the case of the telephone: this technology helped mystify this sort of self in the first place. Through a wide-ranging exploration of the telephone’s stage and film career, this talk affords new perspectives on media studies and suggests new applications for acting theory. Media history has tended to ignore performance culture, much to its detriment; this talk demonstrates what performance studies can contribute to that discipline. Meanwhile, the talk suggests new pathways from the study of acting to larger cultural histories: new technologies birth new acting techniques, which, in turn, make whole new technês of the human feel suddenly possible.

Christopher Grobe is Assistant Professor of English at Amherst College. Broadly speaking, his research concerns the fluid and reciprocal influence of America’s literary, performance, and media cultures. He is currently completing a book called Performing Confession: From Robert Lowell to Reality TV. His reviews and essays can be found (or are forthcoming) in PMLA, Theater, Modern Drama, New Literary History, Public Books, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

October 6, 2015: Kimberly Jannarone

French Revolutionary Festivals and the Invention of Tradition

Federation, big

In 1793, the Committee of Public Safety dispatched functionaries into small villages in the French countryside to refashion local customs of public assembly.  Traditional gatherings, such as those at churches, were outlawed.  Instead, officials re-routed loyalties by instructing citizens to gather under secular circumstances to communally praise the nation. They introduced elaborately conceptualized ceremonies in which the young and old would embody unity and fraternity in new mass ceremonies: Dancing, physical exchanges of symbolic objects, and group participation in just-devised celebrations formed necessary parts of solidifying the new republic.

These ceremonies demonstrate how the French Revolution conceived of the power of bodies in space as a defining element in organizing the new, post-monarchical nation.  This talk will focus on two aspects of these festivals: how they embodied what Eric Hobsbawm has called “the invention of tradition” and how they demonstrate the power of live performance in the process of crafting a new social and political world.

Kimberly Jannarone is a scholar, director, dramaturg, and translator.  She received her MFA and DFA from the Yale School of Drama and is currently on leave from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is Professor of Theater Arts, Digital Arts and New Media, and History of Consciousness, and where she holds the Gary D. Licker Memorial Chair.

She is the author of Artaud and His Doubles, winner of the Honorable Mention for the Joe Callaway Prize for best book in drama. She has published in journals including Theatre Journal, French Forum, Modernism/Modernity, TDR, the Chinese journal Theater Arts, and others.  She won the Gerald Kahan Scholar’s Prize and Honorable Mention for the Oscar Brockett Essay Prize for essays on Artaud.  Forthcoming books include Mass Performance, History, and the Invention of Tradition and the edited volume Vanguard Performance Beyond Left and Right (University of Michigan Press).

September 29, 2015: Claire Pamment

Dancing at the Edges of Section 377:
Hijraism and Colonial Legislation in Contemporary Pakistan

dhammal
Copyright: Claire Pamment.

Hijras, the South Asian community of transgender women, were subject to criminalization by nineteenth century colonial laws. The Criminal Tribes Act (1871) targeted their feminine public appearances and long tradition of performance at Hindu and Sufi festivals, fairs, celebratory gatherings and badhai, the giving of fertility blessings births and weddings (hijras believed to grant auspicious prayers or curses), as a means to police and prohibit sexual ‘intercourse against the order of nature’ as defined in Section 377 (1860). Stripped of its cultural and religious significance, hijraism was re-visioned in public discourse to signify deviant sexuality and outlawed. Yet hijraism proved an unstable signifier; impossible to police and dislocate from culturally embedded knowledge, lending to repeal of CTA in 1910. In contemporary Pakistan, though Section 377 still exists, hijras/khwajasaras have recently been awarded legitimate citizenship identities (2009). I explore how recent media and legal attention that accompanied these reforms, reasserts the legacies of the colonial past; extending the anti-performance imperatives, to police ‘unnatural’ bodies and ‘unnatural’ sexuality in favor of making ‘good’ Pakistani citizens. In turn, I explore how khwajasaras are drawing upon their traditional performance repertoire to redress their marginalization beyond the microscopic gaze of Section 377, to re situate themselves in cultural space.

Claire Pamment is a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. She is a performance practitioner and scholar, working in South Asian theater and performance, with a focus on the popular, comedic, burlesque and queer in Pakistan. Her Ph.D. thesis from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama explored comic performance in Pakistan with a focus on the bhand tradition through Sufi wise fools, and transformations in contemporary culture. Her book ‘Comic Performance in Pakistan: The Bhand’ is forthcoming from Palgrave. Over the last two years, with the support of a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant, she has been working on the performance culture of the Pakistani transgender community of khwajasaras (hijras). During her fellowship at Yale she will further this research by investigating how Sufism informs khwajasara identity and history in Pakistan, and shapes performance practices that enable this transgender community to negotiate a variety of restrictive social scripts.

September 22, 2015: Rachel Anderson-Rabern

pictured: Pamela Vail. photo credit: Rachel Anderson-Rabern.
Pictured: Pamela Vail. Photo credit: Rachel Anderson-Rabern.

Fragments of Chekhov, Memories of Wolves

In the early 20th century the last black wolves in Pennsylvania die out, in tandem with the premier of Chekhov’s Three Sisters on the other side of the world. In the early 21st century (or thereabouts) black wolves are reintroduced to Pennsylvania’s farmland via curated sanctuary, and a college in Lancaster County performs the “antiquated” Three Sisters. 

Inspired by these events, the talk investigates intersections of performance and theory, seeking to articulate vestiges of disappearing acts that coalesce into kaleidoscopes of perception for audiences and artists. A collage emerges, as creative writing converses with the words of contemporary undergraduate students, Anton Chekhov, Pennsylvania hunters and trappers, and theatre and performance scholars. Might this juxtaposition re-frame questions of pedagogy and performance that echo through Chekhov’s work? Can we distinguish loosening lines between wildness and domesticity, formality and apathy?

Rachel Anderson-Rabern holds a PhD in Drama from Stanford University and is an Assistant Professor of Theatre in F&M’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film. She researches contemporary collective creation, ensemble dynamics, and marginal aesthetics: slowness, smallness, fun; and her writings have appeared in Theatre JournalTDR: The Drama ReviewCollective Creation in Contemporary Performance, and Women, Collective Creation, and Devised Performance(forthcoming from Palgrave). She studied acting at the Moscow Art Theatre, and has directed plays and devised works for colleges and universities as well as for Bootstrap Theatre, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Miracle Theatre/Teatro Milagro, Stanford Summer Theatre, and the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Rachel is co-founder (with mathematician Landon Rabern) of Wee Keep Company, an in-process rural arts space for collaborative thinkers and theatre-makers.

September 15, 2015: Guillermo Calderón

National Memory on International Stages: The Reinterpretation of Site-Specificity in Guillermo Calderón’s Villa + Discurso.

Alexandra Ripp in discussion with the artist.

In 2011, Chilean playwright-director Guillermo Calderón wrote two companion plays, VILLA+DISCURSO, which together consider how the country should—or could—memorialize the brutal dictatorship (1973-1990) whose unresolved legacy persists. Calderón wrote these to be performed at Chilean ex-torture centers and the Museum of Memory, in order to encourage critical consideration of official memorialization in situ, but subsequent U.S. and European stagings have occurred in theaters, lecture halls, and gallery spaces. While the themes of fractious collective memory and the delicacy of violent pasts resonate outside Chile, could the missing site-specificity detract from the plays’ power and even dramaturgy? How does the international touring of site-specific theater “work” when the work is bound up with national memory?

Alexandra Ripp will introduce the plays and critical considerations of these questions, before entering in dialogue with Calderón himself about his own perspectives and experiences.

Guillermo Calderón (Director, Playwright) is Chile’s foremost contemporary theatre artist. His plays include Neva, DiciembreClase, Villa, Discurso,QuakeSchool and Kiss.  Calderón’s productions have toured extensively through South America and Europe.  Festival stops include Buenos Aires International Theatre Festival, Chekhov Festival (Russia), Edinburgh International Festival, Festival d´ Automne (France), Santiago A Mil (Chile), Seoul Performing Arts Festival (Korea), TEATERFORMEN Festival (Germany), Wiener Festwochen (Austria), World Theatre Festival (Belgium). The Public´s Under the Radar Festival, and RADAR L.A. The English language version of Neva had its US Premiere at The Public Theater in 2013; a subsequent production toured to South Coast Rep, Center Theatre Group, and LaJolla Playhouse.  He has been commissioned by the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus (Germany), the Royal Court Theater (England) and the Public Theater.  His co-written screenplay Violeta Went to Heaven won the World Cinema Jury Prize for Drama at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He also co-wrote The Club, winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlinale in 2015.Villa and Speech were published in Theater Magazine (Yale and Duke).

Alexandra Ripp is a DFA candidate in the department of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale School of Drama, where she is writing a dissertation on post-dictatorship Chilean theater and memory politics. She is former Associate Editor of Theater Magazine and is the current Ideas Program Manager at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, programming the Festival’s annual series of lectures and panels. Her writing has appeared in Theater Journal, Theater, and PAJ. She is also a translator of Chilean plays, providing subtitles for the U.S. tours of Trinidad González’s The Meeting (2014-15), Guillermo Calderón’s Escuela (2015-2016) and Teatrocinema’s Historia de Amor (2016).

model villa con silla

April 18th, 2015: “Farewell Performances” An IPSY Conference

This conference of Interdisciplinary Performance Studies at Yale will be held at the Whitney Humanities Center, rm 208.  The schedule is as follows.

10:30-12:00 Valediction, Self, and Society

Julia Fawcett, Ryerson University
“Save the Last Dance: Performance as History in Restoration London”

Justin Sider, Yale University
“The Consummated Spell: A.C. Swinburne’s Farewell Address”

Elizabeth Wiet, Yale University
“Ron Vawter/Jack Smith: Queer Goodbyes and the New York Avant-Garde”

Andrew Brown, Yale University (Respondent)

 

12:00-1:30 Lunch

 

1:30-3:00 Memorials and Traumas of Nationhood

Michelle Martin-Baron, Hobart and William Smith College

“Farewell Performances and Futuristic Hauntings”

Jessica Rizzo, Yale University
“Trauma as Performance: Lola Arias’s El Año en Que Nací”

Carrie J. Preston, Boston University
“Undead Plays: Yeats’s Irish National Theater and Japanese Noh Drama”

Joey Plaster, Yale University (Respondent)

 

3:15-4:45 Resisting Farewell

Dominika Laster, Yale University
“Agency for Hiring the Dearly Departed”: Surrogation in Tadeusz Kantor’s Theatre of Death”

Paige McGinley, Washington University in St. Louis
“(Don’t) Take a Bow: On Curtain Calls and Concluding Songs”

Elise Morrison, Yale University
“Now You See Me, Now You Don’t: Practices of Re-Membering through Digital Surveillance”

Tina Post, Yale University (Respondent)

 

5:00 Closing Remarks
Joseph Roach, Yale University

March 3, 2015: Arkadi Zaides

Please join us for this special session of the PSWG on Tuesday, March 3rd, from 12-1 pm.

The dancer and choreographer Arkadi Zaides will discuss his new work, Archive, based on video filmed by volunteers of the B’tselem Camera Project. B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, distributes cameras to Palestinians living in high-conflict areas. Participants document human rights violations and expose the reality of life under the occupation. Through his appropriation of gestures and voices, Zaides engages with the materials and embodies them, turning his body into a living archive.

We will meet in the Whitney Humanities Center, rm 208. A light lunch will be provided and all are welcome.

This discussion will precede Zaides’ performance of Archive in the Off Broadway Theater that evening at 7pm. The artist’s related installation Capture Practice will be on view at the Off Broadway Theater Thursday, March 5 – Saturday, March 7. Please find more information about the performance, panel discussion, and exhibit here.

 

December 2, 2014: Justin Sider

Parting Words: Valedictory Performance in Victorian Poetry

Drawn from my dissertation project, this talk explores the relationship among leave-taking, self-presentation, and public address in Victorian poetry. From Tennyson’s “Ulysses” to A.C. Swinburne’s “Anactoria,” the era’s poems of retreat and departure, I argue, take the measure not only of poets’ disenchantment or exclusion from the public sphere, but more importantly, of their engagement with poetry’s changing status in an emergent mass culture. When critics have attended to Victorian poetry’s role in the public sphere, it has generally been through that poetry’s engagement with political or cultural discourse. My project considers instead the rhetorical possibilities that poets employed to grapple with the idea of publicness itself. In their valedictory poems, poets present speakers who imagine leave-taking as their entrance into circulation as exemplary figures and cultural icons. As scenes of performance, their speeches manage problems of distance and relation: taking leave makes public the personal and, in doing so, comments on the forms of publication—the books and pages and print—that are presumed to survive the departure of the speaker.

Justin Sider is a PhD candidate in English at Yale University and will receive his degree this December. He has recently completed his dissertation, entitled “Parting Words: Address and Exemplarity in Victorian Poetry,” which explores the relationship among poetic address, public speech, and cultural authority in Victorian poetry’s valedictions and scenes of leave-taking. He has published articles on Alfred Tennyson and John Ruskin in Victorian Poetry and Studies in English Literature respectively.

November 18, 2014: William Fleming

Restaging the Forty-Seven Rōnin: Performance and Print in Late Eighteenth-Century Japan

As two of the principal spheres of cultural production in early modern Japan, performance and print naturally developed a close relationship. In the case of pictorial fiction, which rose to enormous popularity in the mid- to late eighteenth century, this relationship is particularly complicated, with performance informing many aspects of such works. This talk explores this dynamic through an examination of a “comicbook” parody of the play Chūshingura, or A Treasury of Loyal Retainers (1748). Almost from its premiere, Chūshingura became the definitive version of the story of the forty-seven rōnin, a group of masterless samurai who carried out a sensational vendetta at the dawn of the eighteenth century. The play quickly became the most popular in the repertoire, and inspired numerous adaptations and parodies. As one such parody, the comicbook considered in this talk has a debt to the stage that is, on the surface, obvious. Yet it is precisely as a parody of a play that it offers valuable insights into the relationship between performance and the printed page. There are many ways one might retell a play in fiction, but the author and illustrator instead rely extensively on kabuki visuality, performance practice, and even specific performances. At the same time, the comicbook, like other works in its genre, is a richly allusive, witty, and palimpsestic text in its own right that is by no means reducible to a representation of the stage. Kabuki and other forms of performance are appropriated as organizing principles, but the end result is an altogether unique form of performance that weaves together many of the diverse strands of Japan’s eighteenth century.

William Fleming is assistant professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures and Theater Studies at Yale. His writings have appeared in journals including Sino-Japanese StudiesAsian Theatre JournalJapan Forum, and The International Journal of Comic Art. He is currently working on a book exploring aspects of the reception of Chinese fiction in early modern Japan, and his co-authored catalogSamurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace, written in conjunction with an exhibition he is jointly curating at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History (opening early next year), is forthcoming in February, 2015.