Sean Metzger//September 17

Sean Metzger//September 17



Sean Metzger presents research from his recent book, The Chinese Atlantic: Seascapes and the Theatricality of Globalization, on 9/17/21 at 12pm-1pm EST.

“In The Chinese Atlantic, Sean Metzger charts processes of global circulation across and beyond the Atlantic, exploring how seascapes generate new understandings of Chinese migration, financial networks and artistic production. Moving across film, painting, performance, and installation art, Metzger traces flows of money, culture, and aesthetics to reveal the ways in which routes of commerce stretching back to the Dutch Golden Age have molded and continue to influence the social reproduction of Chineseness. With a particular focus on the Caribbean, Metzger investigates the expressive culture of Chinese migrants and the communities that received these waves of people. He interrogates central issues in the study of similar case studies from South Africa and England to demonstrate how Chinese Atlantic seascapes frame globalization as we experience it today. Frequently focusing on art that interacts directly with the sites in which it is located, Metzger explores how Chinese migrant laborers and entrepreneurs did the same to shape—both physically and culturally—the new spaces in which they found themselves. In this manner, Metzger encourages us to see how artistic imagination and practice interact with migration to produce a new way of framing the global.”

BIO: Sean Metzger is Associate Dean for Faculty and Students and a professor in the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. He has published Chinese Looks: Fashion, Performance Race (2014) and The Chinese Atlantic: Seascapes and the Theatricality of Globalization (2020) both with Indiana University Press. He has coedited six collections of essays and a volume of plays and authored more than 50 articles and reviews. He is the former president of Performance Studies international and the editor of Theatre Journal.

Phoenix Gonzalez

Phoenix Gonzalez
Feb 23 noon-1pm EST

“‘The Fleetinge Fludd’: Ecological Thinking in a Contemporary Performance of Two Medieval Noah Pageants”
Phoenix Gonzalez is a Master of Arts in Religion student at Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music. In her work, she combines medieval drama and climate activism, staging medieval texts today to explore how they can forge community and help us question our assumptions, beliefs, and practices, both about religion and our environmental crisis. She received her BA in Religion at Princeton, where she first caught the medieval “bug.” Prior to her work at Yale, she lived in New York, where she performed in various new musicals and plays.
The Noah story was well known in late medieval English iconography, appearing frequently in striking stained glass windows and elaborate, emotional illuminations in personal Bibles, Books of Hours, and manuals for sermons such as the Holkham Bible. It was also one of the few Hebrew Bible stories to be found across the English mystery plays, those plays that added contemporary issues to stories in the Bible and then staged them for their communities each summer on the Feast of Corpus Christi. The importance of the Noah story in the medieval biblical narrative and its cosmic proportions beg the question, what sort of ecology did this pageant put forth for its medieval audiences? What image of nature would an audience have walked away with? This essay explores how two medieval plays performed at Yale Divinity School’s Marquand Chapel were staged to redefine the ecology of human relationships and their material surroundings, thereby reinterpreting what it means to interact with the wildness of God, each other, and the natural world. What can we learn from this reinterpretation today?


Yana Ross

Yana Ross

Feb 16, noon-1pm EST

Yana Ross is a cultural nomad— since age 5 she has been traveling through a vast variety of countries and cultures, absorbing experiences and adapting to various conditions of life and work. Her artistic passion is digging deep into a foreign culture to unveil a taboo subject which often is invisible to the locals. She then explores the themes in collaborative and improvisational methods often based on classical texts but ascued to transmit the main subject of research. Her Swedish Uncle Vanya took on ideas of “forced” inheritance and gender equalities, Our Class in Vilnius with local history of genocide and Icelandic “Salka Valka” with a subject of incest and overwhelming sexual child abuse in a local society. All of her international productions since 2013 have been awarded Best Director award in respective countries. Ross is the first female director to work on legendary Volksbuehne stage in Berlin (Macbeth 2008) and first and still the only female director who won the Golden Cross for best performance in Lithuania (2014, 2019)

She now is part of the artistic team at Schauspielhaus Zurich where during the 3-year tenure she shapes and navigates a state institution together with other seven artists: Trajal Harrel, Wu Tsang, Leoni Boehm, Nicolas Stemann, Alexander Giesche, Suna Geurler and Christopher Rühping. After completing her commitment in 2022 she will embark on a long-term collaboration with Berliner Ensemble.

Ross is currently in pre-production for performance based on David Foster Wallace “Brief interviews with hideous men” — working title “Requiem for Masculinity.” She is creating a strange dream Californian landscape with a bunch of mythical cowboys who take on human personae but perhaps are a reincarnation of greek gods propelling masculine mythology to it’s end. In the same landscape they encounter an Adam/Eve combo represented by two German adult industry performers who literally fuck on stage and also highjack some narratives.

Nahuel Telleria


“Becoming Boezzio: Exemplary Bodies and the Ethics of Memory in Postdictatorship Argentina


Museums typically display inert objects, and theaters present live bodies. But what happens when exhibitions have minds of their own? When what used to be still is? In the play Museo Miguel Ángel Boezzio (Miguel Ángel Boezzio Museum, 1998), a Malvinas veteran gives a lecture performance about his life while expectant audience members await the revelation of a secret history that never comes into being. Tied to the recent past of disappearances, war, and military dictatorship in Argentina between 1976 and 1983, the veteran’s exemplary body testifies to his survival and the recurring nature of national trauma. By affording him a stage and platform, playwright and director Federico León reflects on the logic (or illogic) of museum curation and puts the country’s troubled memory politics on display.


Nahuel Telleria is a doctoral candidate in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale School of Drama. His research looks at the confessional attributes that structure postdictatorship Argentine theater in relationship to the socioeconomic contexts of democratic return and financial collapse. He has an MFA from Yale, an MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and is the recipient of a 2019 Fulbright Research Grant. Alongside his scholarly endeavors, Nahuel works as a freelance dramaturg, translator, and writer.

Michael Portnoy//April 27th, 2021

In his artist’s talk, Portnoy will trace the themes and approaches that animate his work: his participatory projects based in his method of “Relational Stalinism”; his sustained engagement with experimental comedy; and his method of generative satire aimed at the “improvement” of visual art performance practices.  Along the way, he’ll reflect on the entanglement of language, movement (ie, dance and behavior), and theory in the creation of his performances.

Michael Portnoy (b. 1971, Washington, DC, USA) is a New York-based artist. Coming from a background in dance and stand-up comedy, his performance-based work employs a variety of media: from participatory installations to sculpture, painting, writing, theater, video and curation. Portnoy is largely concerned with manipulating language and behavior as a tool for world-bending – either in his “Relational Stalinist” game structures in which confusion, complication, and ambiguity are used to stretch participants’ speech and movement; or his quest to “improve” existing breeds of art through re-engineering. He has presented internationally in museums, art galleries, theatres and music halls, including recently Steirischer Herbst, Graz, Austria (2019 & 2018); Witte de With, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2016); the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2015); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2014); Cricoteka, Krakow, Poland (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2013); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2013); The Kitchen, New York, USA (2013); dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); 11th Baltic Triennial (co-curator), Vilnius, Lithuania (2012); and the Taipei Biennial, Taipei, Taiwan (2010).


Caden will discuss the history of Big Art Group, their works, and their framework for building and executing their performances. In the realization of the work, the company developed several strategies and techniques for performance training. Among these are Real-Time Film; Movement-based training in awareness of the video camera and its frame; and strategies for mediated presence. Caden will also discuss the company’s tactics of Queering Character: creating a character that exists only as an assemblage of the effort of several actors working as a group, negotiating representation from moment to moment, and existing as a cyborg.
Caden Manson is a performance and media artist, co-founder of the performance/media ensemble Big Art Group, editor at Contemporary Performance, and curates the annual Special Effects Festival in NYC. Caden has co-created, directed, media and set designed 22 Big Art Group productions; shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; and performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore, and Vietnam. Big Art Group has toured throughout Europe and North North America and has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Manson is a Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, Pew Fellow, and a MacDowell Fellow. and has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, Theater der Zeit, and Theater Journal. Caden is the Director of The Theatre Program at Sarah Lawrence College BA, MFA

Ariel Sibert // May 11th


A small, actor-facing screen showing a feed of performance capture is called a “vanity monitor” or a “confidence monitor.” Implicit in either term is a kind of a backhanded compliment, a condescending acknowledgment of the backfooted relation between captured object and capturing apparatus. The performer—whether understood as vain or insecure—is judged for volunteering vulnerability. This talk examines technological media as a means of self-monitoring, from the early days of personal video to the present epoch of compulsory telepresence, and builds on my work connecting performance practice to the history of information theory and informatics.

Ariel Sibert is a doctoral student at the Yale School of Drama and a dramaturg of the multi-media performance collective Fake Friends. As a dramaturg and a producer of film, she has contributed to work shown at the Park Avenue Armory, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Ars Nova, Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop, Spectrum Arts, the Exponential Festival, BAM, Yale Repertory Theater, and the Yale School of Drama. Her writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Theater, and American Theatre. Currently, she is a teaching fellow at the Yale School of Drama and a lecturer at Quinnipiac University. Her dissertation examines the influence of information theory on avant-garde and experimental performance practices.

PSWG Statement on COVID-19 // Cancellation of Spring 2020 Events

Dear all,⁣

First, Kimberly and I would like to thank all of you for your sustained, vigorous, and passionate engagement with the working group this year. We’ve noticed a pronounced uptick in attendance this year, and our speakers have mentioned to us many times that they’ve appreciated the engagement and generosity of our members.⁣

In keeping with the restrictions that Yale has implemented for the rest of the year, we are cancelling the rest of the PSWG meetings for the year. We’re devastated to lose these voices and the opportunity to engage with them, but it is what we must do to keep us all as healthy as possible. We’re in the process of rescheduling as many of these speakers as we can for next year, and we hope to be able to announce plans for the next year by the end of the summer.⁣

We’ll be in touch with information and other announcements throughout the rest of the semester. We’re cancelling all our scheduled presentations, but we’re holding open the possibility of an online gathering, celebration, or exploration of community, collaboration, and liveness at the end of the semester. If you’re interested, just keep it in mind, think of what you’d like, and contact us if you have ideas.

Should you like to share your work with us next year, or if you have a person you’d like us to hear from, please reach out to Kimberly and me.⁣

Our best,⁣

Charlie & Kimberly

Sumarsam // March 3, 2020

Epistemology, Lights, and Power in Javanese Wayang Puppet Play

Sumarsam, Tue. March 3, 2-3pm. 220 York Street room 001

Integrated with gamelan, dance, and visual arts, and its endemic to socioreligious life, Javanese wayang puppet play commands deep aesthetic, religious, and emotional adherence. However, since the 1980s wayang performance has gone through radical transformation, involving the adaptation of Western technology and theatrical idioms. The tendency to spectacularize the play—the use of bright electric light sources (sometimes with many colors) and elaborate amplification systems with large speakers, the featuring of several female singers and stand-up comedians, the incorporation of Indonesianized Western pop music and Western instruments, and so forth—has brought about pro and con discussion of the present and future wayang.

Sumarsam has played Javanese gamelan since childhood. He was also trained as puppeteer. He holds a BA from Indonesia music academy, MA from Wesleyan, and PhD from Cornell. Currently, he holds the status of Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music at Wesleyan. His research on the history, theory, and performance practice of gamelan and wayang, and on Indonesia-Western encounter theme has resulted the publication of numerous articles and two books: Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java (1995) and Javanese Gamelan and the West (2013). Sumarsam’s recent research focuses on the intersections between religion and performing arts. He is the recipient of a number of fellowship grants and awards, including the NEH and the ACLS fellowship, and Indonesian Bintang Satyalencana Cultural Award. He was recently named the 2018 honorary membership of the Society for Ethnomusicology. This year, he is a Yale ISM Fellow.

Jonah Westerman // Feb. 18

Performance ca. 1979: The Invention of an Artistic Medium and Some Consequences

Jonah Westerman, Tue. Feb. 18, 2-3pm. 220 York Street, room 001. 



This talk details how the discursive invention of “performance” (circa 1979) in the pages of journals and scholarly histories dedicated to new modes of artistic activity blazed a decisive trail through roughly thirty years’ worth of critical confusion. Over that period, art historians and critics had struggled to come to terms with a postwar emphasis on process in artistic production—from Jackson Pollock’s “action painting” to the globally dispersed form of the “Happening” to Fluxus “Events” to new collaborations between the visual and performing arts (like Robert Rauschenberg’s projects with Merce Cunningham). “Performance” (as an all-encompassing term) arrived at the end of a thirty-year expansion in art and claimed this multi-faceted territory as its own. This invention of “performance” secured legitimacy for a widely disparate range of practices. This paper not only traces this process of invention, but also elaborates its unintended consequences. First, I argue that the critical construction of performance as a medium brought artistic practices designed to flout convention under the regulatory gaze of a new essentializing vision. Second (and more importantly), these artworks’ claims to social and political experimentation became limited as well, insofar as the newly codified medium privileged individuality as the site of cultural significance. Each of these disciplinary presumptions has constrained and haunted our discussions of performance art ever since.

Jonah Westerman is Assistant Professor of Art History at Purchase College, State University of New York. In 2016-17 he was Chester Dale Senior Fellow in Art History at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. From 2014-2016 he was Postdoctoral Research Associate at Tate in London, where he collaborated with Curatorial, Research, Collection Care, and Archive departments on Performance at Tate, a project that produced an institutional history, as well as new strategies for collecting, displaying, and commissioning performance. He is co-editor of Histories of Performance Documentation: Museum, Artistic, and Scholarly Practices (Routledge, 2018). Most recently, he has published an essay on work by Anne Imhof in the summer 2019 issue of Artforum and completed an article about performance and museums for the forthcoming edited volume, The Methuen Drama Companion to Performance Art (Bloomsbury, 2020). He is currently working on a book titled The Invention of Performance: An Archaeology of Contemporary Art, which historicizes and theorizes the changing meanings of the word “performance” in relation to the artworks it is meant to describe over the last forty years.