Objects in Performance

THST 447 / ART 387 / PLSH 447  • Objects in Performance • Dominika Laster & Nathan Roberts

A historical, theoretical, and practical exploration of objects in performance.  An examination of the performer-object relation, with a particular focus on the work of Polish painter, assemblage artist, set designer, and theater director, Tadeusz Kantor.This production seminar will examine the wide-ranging meanings and functions of material objects in performance, including puppets, marionettes, mannequins, and stage properties. Students will develop a theoretical and practical understanding of the affordances of objects; consider how “fetishized” or “haunted” objects ventriloquize absent histories and subjects; investigate the fluid interplay between objects and agents; and question the subject/object divide.

While referring to such historical antecedents as Edward Gordon Craig’s notion of the Über-marionette, the primary focus of the course will be the theoretical and creative work of Tadeusz Kantor. Relying on primary and secondary sources, students will undertake a careful study of his manifestos, paintings, and performances.   Integrating scholarly research, theoretical inquiry, and practical experimentation, students will engage in the development of a devised theatrical work that will culminate in a public performance.