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Participatory Performance: Artists, Audiences, and Civic Engagement

Semester and Year SP 2016
Course Number ARTS-UG1090
Section 001
Instructor Kristin Horton, Leila Buck
Days T
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U



Beginning from the premise that by its nature theater is inherently participatory, this arts workshop explores a wide spectrum of direct audience engagement by examining the history of the spectator’s relationship to performance with an emphasis on contemporary practices and their potential for civic engagement. Specific attention will be given to the relationships between artist, event and spectator as well as forms of interactivity and the spectrum of engagement they provide. Who is in the audience? What does theater or performance do for those who witness or participate in it? What does it mean to participate? How does participatory performance affect the role and process of the writer, director, designer, performer, and audience member? Throughout the course students will engage as creators as well as audience-participants as we examine these relationships and questions. We will investigate the work of artists and companies using participatory forms to explore such concepts as democracy, citizenship, and systems of privilege including Aaron Landsman ( City Council ), Dread Scott ( Dread Scott:   Decision ), dog & pony dc ( Squares)  and others. The course will also address the issues raised by working cross-culturally and frameworks for artists to consider the political and philosophical implications of making work in, with, about and for diverse communities. Texts will include readings by Claire Bishop, Helen Freshwater, Nicolas Bourriaud, Augusto Boal, Bertolt Brecht, and Richard Schechner, and others based on student research interests. The course culminates in a public sharing of short participatory performances-in-progress created by students based on intersections with their own research and practices.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Arts Workshops (ARTS-UG)