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Graduate 2015-16 Courses

DRA2011HS Shocking Art
Prof. T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko
Spring, Tuesdays 11-1

What do we consider shocking – in art, in performance, in the media…in life? Does art still maintain the power to shock its audiences, or have we reached the point Richard Schechner signalled in 1993 when he wrote, with regard to contemporary avant-garde theatre, “[I]n the West, at least, there is little artists can do, or even ought to do, to shock audiences (though quite a bit can offend them).” What is the difference between shock and offense? In the contexts of the artistic investment we make in what Jennifer Doyle names “work that is difficult: and the complex pedagogy we enact in our negotiations of trigger warnings and academic freedom, can and should we strive artistically toward one (shock) while intellectually evading the other (offense)? From the premieres of Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring in 1913 and John Cage’s 4’33” in 1952, to Karen Finley’s “chocolate-smeared woman” and the attending backlash launched against the NEA4 in the early 1990’s; from the Living Theatre’s anti-authoritarian The Brig in 1963 to Brad Fraser’s commentary on disability and love, Kill Me Now, in 2014; and from Vietnam War protests, to the Occupy movement, to #BlackLivesMatter, this course will explore twentieth and twenty-first century shock in all its performative and offensive possibilities. Trigger warning noted.

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DRA3904HF Performing Failure: Critical Theories on Perfection and the Sublime
Prof. Antje Budde
Fall, Mondays 12-3

“I hold on to what have been characterized as childish and immature notions of possibility…By exploring and mapping, I also mean detouring and getting lost.” (Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure)

“Transforming the frustration from failing into energy for learning is the key to success, that is to say, The Art of Failure.” (Pascaline Lorentz on Jesper Juul’s book on video gaming. Web June 2014).

In this course we will, in a culturally and historically comparative fashion, explore concepts and practices of failure in performance as an indication and a marker of underlying aesthetics and daily life concepts of perfection. While walking on a thousand plateaus we will look at the sublime as a utopian concept of becoming in pre-modern, modern and post-modern societies. And we will DO/MAKE things happen in the form of transmedia publishing, employing  interactive dramaturgies. What makes practices of error, glitch, noise, accident, disruption, gaps, malfunction, imperfection, paradoxical contradiction and endgame situations productive for politically engaged and historically aware artistic production across histories, cultures, identities? How can we express and share the pleasures of learning, failing, becoming in transmedia practices of writing/performing. Based on the idea of critical making and in the wake of a dramatic shift towards interactive and transmedia publishing/dramaturgies in the digital humanities, we will learn-hands on- how to produce interactive transmedia scholarship using software such as Scalar, Popcornmaker, Cinemek composer, Isadora and online depositories such as Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo, Pinterest, Reddit and Wix. This course is inspired and supported by the think tank creations of the Digital Dramaturgy Lab.

Keywords: thousand plateaus, interactive dramaturgy, transmedia storytelling, sublime, failure, perfection, Zeami, Schiller, Kleist, living machines, theatre anthropology, Kathakali, Chinese theatre, hybridity, indigenous performance, automata, Meyerhold, Artaud, body without organs, Brecht, Cage, post-colonial and post-modern critique, Marxist cultural studies, feminist intervention, queer celebration, affect theory, getting lost.

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DRA3905HS Art and Politics in China
Prof. Xing Fan
Spring, Wednesdays 1-4

This course offers an examination of the interaction between art and politics in the People’s Republic of China since 1949.  The dramatic dialogue between politics and artistic creation in China has been the most obscure yet crucial part of constructing socialistic culture within the parameters prescribed by the Chinese Communist Party.  In this course, we will not only conduct a close analysis of Chinese visual and performing arts as social, cultural, and/or political institutions, but also look into the political struggles and intellectual debates that have shaped artistic creation.  Delving into a wide range of negotiations between political obligations and artistic sensitivities, our research and discussions will shed light on the so-called “known” and explore the “unknown” in both China-related subjects and art and politics in general.

DRA5001Y Theatre Practice II (Req’d PhD)
Prof. Antje Budde
Year, Mondays 3-5

This course (along with DRA5000HF for MA students) is the focal point of the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies’s mandate to pursue a thorough integration of practice and theory in its degree programs. It is an opportunity for PhD candidates to thoroughly explore their proposed research projects as well as a range of professional skills.  A core requirement provides a dramaturgical “laboratory” experience in which scholarly, practical, and training opportunities intersect and interact in an end-of-year presentation. Flexibility in the execution of the course will be accommodated, based on individual training, experience and need. Involvement in workshops, colloquia, and the Centre’s season of performances will be a part of the discussion in regular meetings. Completion may be over two years.

DRA6000Y Research Seminar/Professional Skills ***CANCELLED***

Graduate Seminar Courses 2013-14

DRA1003HS Introduction to Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies (Req’d MA)
Prof. T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko
Spring, Tuesdays 10-1

This course provides participants with the skills (material, critical/analytical, methodological) needed for the academic study of theatre, drama, and performance. The coverage of the course will vary from year to year, but will be structured to provide exposure to a range of disciplines pertinent to the Centre’s mandate: in history and historiography, historical and contemporary theory, and production and developmental dramaturgy. We will pay particular attention to foundational debates within and between theatre and performance studies, such as those concerning liveness and mediation, the archive and the repertoire, and theatricality and performativity. This course will also directly engage concurrent events and performances at the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, including the annual FOOT conference, and will feature several guest lecturers.

Students are responsible for weekly responses, which will be shared in regular workshopping sessions, and a final portfolio, as well as attendance to monthly Colloquia and Chat Series events. Students will present their work in a DRA1003 mini-conference in mid-March that will be open to members of the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies and by invitation. This course is required for all MA students and recommended to PhD students (particularly those who have not taken previous courses that engage the field of performance studies).
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DRA1011HS Traditions of Performance Theory (Req’d PhD)
Prof. Stephen Johnson
Spring, Thursdays 10-1

A survey of theories of drama, theatre, and performance in the European tradition from the Greeks (Aristotle and Plato) to the 19th Century.  This course is required for all incoming PhD candidates.
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DRA1012HF Twentieth Century Theatre and Performance (Req’d PhD)
Prof. Tamara Trojanowska
Fall, Thursdays 10-1

The course has two aims. The first is to familiarize students with some of the major practical and theoretical developments in European and North American theatre in the twentieth and twenty first centuries and to look at these developments from the perspective of the changing notions of truth, subjectivity, and representation. The theatre practitioners and theoreticians we encounter range from Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Brecht, Artaud, Grotowski, Kantor, Wilson and Bausch to contemporary theatre and performance artists. We investigate realism, avant-garde, ritual, and ecological, intercultural, and site-specific theatre and performance through diverse lenses of the writings of Aristotle, Adorno, Heidegger, Szondi, Lehmann, and Said, among others. The second aim is to investigate the usefulness of the wide range of theories that are central to critical debates in the humanities (psychoanalysis, post-colonialism, feminist, gay and lesbian/queer theories, and many more) to theatre studies. The course provides the opportunity to discuss, evaluate, and to test these theories against the plays and performances under discussion. While plays, performances, and theoretical texts form the material of the course, the interaction of theory and praxis is its central focus. Note: registration is restricted to students in the first year of the PhD, except with permission of the instructor.
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DRA3019HF Shakespeare in Modern Production
Prof. John Astington
Fall, Wednesdays 2-4

DRA3120HS “Something More Than a Woman”: The Way of the Actress
Prof. Paula Sperdakos
Spring, Wednesdays 10-12

In its complete form, the quotation in the course title – variously attributed to Cecil B. DeMille, Ginger Rogers, and more plausibly, Richard Burton – reads: An actor is something less than a man, while an actress is something more than a woman. The distinguished American stage and screen actress, Ethel Barrymore, developed the idea of the larger-than-life aspects of the female performer when she said, For an actress to be a success she must have the face of Venus, the brains of Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of Macaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros.

Both quotations in different ways sum up the complex subject who is at the front and centre of this seminar course. Unquestionably, the actress has played a central role in both cultural and women’s history, and the story of her journey from disreputable variety performer, banned from the legitimate theatre for nearly 2000 years, to emblem of the emancipated woman (however threatening to the social order), to feminist icon, is one that speaks to a myriad of issues, among them anti-theatrical hostility, sexuality, gender, race, identity, image and representation.

In this course, we will investigate the history and role of the actress in society, through a consideration of actress’s memoirs and biographies, photographs and drawings, performance reviews, histories of the theatre, plays and films, the growing catalogue of scholarly work about the figure of the actress, and so on. Our main objective will be to engage in research about our subject: to expand our understanding of why and how the actress/female performer has functioned and continues to function in society as both a complex sign system – a symbol, an icon – and as a working woman.
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DRA3211HF Performing Bodies
Prof. Bruce Barton
Fall, Thursdays 2-4

This course investigates a wide range of theoretical and practical perspectives on performing bodies. The foundation for this exploration is established through a multidisciplinary survey of conceptualizations of the body, ranging from its celebration as a site of transcendence and transformation through to its condemnation as an object of repulsion and disgust (to site only the most immediate and least complicated of binaries). Discourse theory, phenomenology, semiotics, cognition, gender studies, postmodernism, performance studies, the postdramatic, and intermediality constitute a partial list of theoretical frameworks that will be brought into play through an analysis of key documents, artifacts, and illustrations from these and related perspectives. This interactive field of ideas thus becomes the theoretical and philosophical network within which our discussion will then progress to a focused consideration of interdisciplinary bodies in performance. Multiple (often contradictory) understandings of “presence” will be explored in relation to physical and intellectual processes of conditioning, discipline, and competence (in regards to performers, participants, and spectators). Issues of attention and perception, with a particular focus on implicit yet active cognitive processes of consciousness (knowledge retention, retrieval, and application), will also figure within the theoretical context of our study. A variety of self-defined assignments will allow students to partially satisfy the course requirements through practice-based research models.
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DRA3903HS Theatre and Globalization
Prof. Barry Freeman
Spring, Fridays 10-12

This course will examine the interface between theatre and globalization through historical and contemporary case-study. Defined broadly in Nicholas Ridout’s book Theatre & Globalization as the “becoming worldwide of things,” globalization comprises a range of political, social, cultural and especially economic forces with roots that stretch back to the early modern period. In the course, a range of contemporary, interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives will be brought into play from the fields of sociology, cultural philosophy, and global ethics. We will consider how theatre has been implicated in or even co-opted by the agendas of globalization, giving rise to post-colonial, intercultural, transnational and cosmopolitan orientations in practice and theory. We will also trace how, and particularly today, theatre provides a space wherein agendas of globalization can be questioned and resisted, such as within anti- or alter-globalization activist movements that oppose or propose alternatives to capitalist and neoliberal ideologies. This will be a ‘permeable classroom’ in which we engage with practitioners and scholars in the community and abroad through theatre outings, guest lectures, Skype conversations, and other opportunities arising. Students will have the opportunity to examine the subject in projects of their own design that focus on a contemporary site of performance in a traditional theatre, activist, pop-culture, or online context. Each student will lead a seminar and write a research paper, in addition to being responsible for stewarding some themed discussions.
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DRA3905HF Chinese Theatre – Experimentation and Resistance
Prof. Antje Budde
Fall, Mondays 2-5

The course investigates China’s struggle with modernity and colonialism through theatre history, theatre politics and performance practices/aesthetics that focus on theatre as a means of resistance and social change. This interest includes pre-modern practices such as Yuan drama (Yuan zaju) and Peking Opera (Jingju), new modern hybrid forms such as Huaju (spoken drama) and extends to post-colonial transnational (Gao Xingjian), cross-cultural (Chinese-international collaborations) and multi-cultural (Chinese-Canadian) theatre. We will take both a historically and culturally comparative approach that will allow for discussions of experimental practices of appropriation of Chinese theatre by the Western Avant-garde (Meyerhold, Brecht, Grotowski, Mnouchkine) and vice versa (Chinese appropriations of Shakespeare, Stanislavsky, Ibsen, Brecht, Meyerhold, Artaud, Beckett). Furthermore, the course will address sexual and gender politics as an indicator of social engagement with/of theatre (i.e. cross-gender acting traditions, feminist playwriting, queer and multi-media performance practices etc.)

Major methods of learning in this course are research assignments regarding theory, history and aesthetics (both in literary and performance dramaturgy) combined with performance experiments and creation.

The course is highly participatory and collaborative and requires from participants both open-minded playfulness and reliable work ethics.
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DRA3906HF Cognitive Performance Studies / Performing Cognitive Processes
Prof. Pil Hansen
Fall, Fridays 10-12

Developments in the cognitive sciences have radically changed the approaches to psychology available to theatre, dance, and performance studies. New and revisited theories of memory and perception have implications for the understanding of relationships between physical and language-based forms of expression; the maintenance of an autobiographical self; the human ability to adapt and form connections; our attention and action; and of course our engagement with other people and the environment. In extension, the theories open up new or recalibrated perspectives on topics such as performer training, acting and dance techniques, improvisation, creative processes, interdisciplinary and intermedial creation, audience perception, dramaturgy, and the possibility of affecting – or bringing something new into – the world. Such perspectives have been pursued analytically, through empirical experiments, and in practice-based research over the past ten years. Books series, international research networks and centres, and journal issues on cognition and performance now constitute an established field. The objective of the course is not only to study this field, but also to engage directly with the methodological challenges it involves and propose our own solutions and sites of application. Thus we begin with a brief introduction to relevant aspects of theory of knowledge and empirical research methodology. Building on this base, we will read sources from the cognitive sciences that have proven relevant to performance studies. Examples of application to performance studies will be examined, and finally we will discuss how cognitive theory can be applied to areas of performance studies and practice chosen by students and candidates in the course. The cycle from cognitive theory through to performance (studies) application will be repeated on different topics throughout the term, allowing students and candidates to schedule their assignments with their interests in mind.
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DRA3907HS Digital Dramaturgy in Performance
Prof. Antje Budde
Spring, Wednesdays 2-5

Classes are in the Luella Massey Studio Theatre, 4 Glen Morris Street (behind Robarts Library)

“The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision.”

–THE CRITICAL ENGINEERING MANIFESTO, 2011. http://criticalengineering.org

This course is inspired by and rooted in practice-based research projects and events of the Digital Dramaturgy Lab (DDL), which was founded in April 2012 in Toronto.

The DDL is a networking platform for multi-disciplinary artists, creative programmers, technicians and designers with conceptual/ dramaturgical interest in dynamic/queering relationships between digital technology and live performance, the complexities of real and virtual bodies, multi-disciplinary  linguality/terminology, as well as aesthetical and technological literacy in collaborative rehearsal processes in theatre, performance art and interactive installations.

Digital dramaturgy, for the purpose of this course, is defined here as the conceptual and structuring critical making of intermedial performance (digital or otherwise) that informs an integrated approach to aspects of creative learning/critical thinking in the field of artistic performative production. Of particular interest is the challenging juxtaposition between the analog nature of human perception and digitally informed or organized performance practices.

In the course we will apply strategies of Critical making, “The use of the term critical making to describe our work signals a desire to theoretically and pragmatically connect two modes of engagement with the world that are often held separate—critical thinking, typically understood as conceptually and linguistically based, and physical “making,” goal-based material work.” Ratto, M. (2011) “Critical Making: conceptual and material studies in technology and social life”, The Information Society 27(4). Critical Making Lab, U of T. http://criticalmaking.com/about/

In order to better understand our current challenges with technology in live performance we will study performance dramaturgies and political aesthetics of early modern avant-garde-movements and play with a comparative approach.


1. This course will collaborate with the “Interactive Stage” course taught at York U. by Prof. Don Sinclair and Prof. William Mackwood (Digital Media Program).
2. Our course will include two mandatory weekend workshops (Sat/Sun 11am-4:30pm including break), one at our Centre and one at York U. This will not exceed the total hours of the course. It simply means that not all sessions are taught on a regular weekly basis. Students of this course need to make sure they can attend these workshops.


Wed. Jan.8   3-5pm (2 hrs.)
Wed. Jan.15 3-5pm (2 hrs.)
Wed. Jan.22 2-5pm (3 hrs.)
Wed. Jan.29 2-5pm (3 hrs.)
Note: Sat./ Sun. Jan.18/19 10am – 5pm ISADORA workshop with Monty Martin (not obligatory but strongly suggested)

Wed. Feb. 5    2-5pm (3 hrs.)
Sat./Sun. Feb. 8, 9   Sat. 12pm-4pm    Sun. 10am-2pm   Weekend Workshop Venue: LCR at 75 St. George Street, basement
Feb. 17-21, 2014  Reading Week
Wed. Feb. 26   3-5pm (2 hrs.)

Wed. March 5   3-5pm (2 hrs.)
Sat./Sun. March. 15/16 12pm-4pm (8 hrs.) Weekend Workshop Venue: Digital Media Studio, York U.
Wed. March 19 2-5pm (3 hrs.)

April 4, 2014 U of T classes end. Possibility of end of term presentations to be discussed with students.
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DRA3908HS Experimental Music Theatre
Prof. T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko
Spring, Mondays 2-5

A genre that emerged in the 1960s and fell out of favor shortly after, “music-theatre” comprises, broadly, productions in which “spectacle and dramatic impact are emphasized over purely musical factors.” We’ll be engaging this definition of music-theatre (and noting the distinction from musical theatre) through its historical precedents in Richard Wagner’s epic music-dramas, Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, Bertolt Brecht’s collaborations with Kurt Weill, Samuel Beckett’s engagement with breath and utterance, and John Cage’s filled silences, as well as challenging it through the experimental music-theatre of such contemporary artists as Amiri Baraka, Cynthia Hopkins, DJ Spooky, Juliet Palmer, Olga Neuwirth, Julio Estrada, Michel van der Aa, and even the singular Lady Gaga. Through close analysis of specific pieces and productions, we will reconsider modes we employ in perceiving the dramatic body onstage and query how it is that we determine genre in performance.
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DRA4090Y/DRA4091HF/DRA4092HS Directed Reading/Directed Theatre Research
Prof. TBD
Year/Fall/Spring, N/A

Approval for a Directed Reading course normally will be given to doctoral candidates who wish to study a subject related to their intended area of thesis research but for which there exists no graduate seminar course. This can be either a half- or full-year course. The amount of work involved, and the number of meetings with the instructor, should be equivalent to that of a half- or full-year seminar course. Before a student can be registered in such a course, he/she must find an instructor willing to direct it, and both must agree on the subject matter and methodology (refer to the list of faculty and their specializations and consult the Graduate Co-ordinator if necessary). No more than one full Directed Reading course (i.e. one “Y” or two “H”s) may be included in a student’s degree program. A brief description of the course, signed by the student and instructor, must be submitted to the Graduate Co-ordinator at the time of registration.

Directed Theatre Research course may involve mounting (e.g. directing, designing, or dramaturging, as appropriate) a special production in which the stage is regarded as a means of research in a specific aspect of the theory and/or practice of theatre; or else may involve a field placement at a venue or with a professional company, as arranged by the Centre. Directed Theatre Research projects require the approval of the Director of the Centre at the beginning of term. The nature, purpose and anticipated final documentation of the research to be carried out must be described in a detailed submission to the Director before approval for such projects or placements can be considered.
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DRA5000HF Praxis (Req’d MA)
Prof. Bruce Barton
Fall, Tuesdays 10-1

This course (along with DRA5001Y for PhD students) is the focal point of the Centre’s mandate to pursue a thorough integration of practice and theory in its degree programs. The course provides a “laboratory” experience in which scholarly, practical, and training opportunities intersect and interact. The course is structured around two main areas of focus that foreground and epitomize such efforts towards integration: dramaturgy and practice-based research. Students will be introduced to key elements – historical, theoretical, methodological, and practical – related to both topics through an integrated combination of readings, lecture/discussions, guest presentations, and practical assignments. The course is designed to foster and facilitate student collaboration and engagement with a broad range of performance generation within and beyond the university. A variety of student activities throughout the term will progress towards the primary course project: the design, execution, documentation and exhibition of a group-created Practice-Based Research project.
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DRA5001Y Theatre Practice II (Req’d PhD)
Prof. Bruce Barton
Year, Mondays 10-1*

This course (along with DRA5000HS for MA students) is the focal point of the Drama Centre’s mandate to pursue a thorough integration of practice and theory in its degree programs. It is an opportunity for PhD candidates to thoroughly explore their proposed research projects as well as a range of professional skills. A core requirement provides a dramaturgical “laboratory” experience in which scholarly, practical, and training opportunities intersect and interact in an end-of-year presentation. Flexibility in the execution of the course will be accommodated, based on individual training, experience and need. Involvement in workshops, colloquia, and the Centre’s season of performances will be a part of the discussion in regular meetings. Completion may be over two years.
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DRA6000Y Research Seminar/Professional Skills (Req’d PhD)
Prof. John Astington & Prof. Stephen Johnson
Year, Tuesdays 1-3*

The primary purpose of the seminar is to follow the student through to the achievement of candidacy at the University, including the following: preparation and writing of all qualifying exams; passing the language requirement; developing a finished thesis proposal; selecting a supervisor and committee; preparing a thesis prospectus; and passing an oral defense of the prospectus. Meetings, which will be regular but not weekly, will take the form of study groups with guest participants, colloquia and workshops. Students will co-organize all sessions, participating in joint critical discussion of research projects and methodologies. Grant proposals, ethics review procedures, conference etiquette, intellectual property challenges, preparation for publication, and teaching will also be discussed.

PhD I Primary goal: study group for preparation and writing of qualifying examinations; language requirement.

PhD II Primary goal: selection of the supervisor and committee; thesis proposal and prospectus. Other colloquia and workshops ongoing and shared.
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* These courses may not meet every week; consult your professor for details.

The Scenographic Reforms Adolphe Appia
Dr. Paul J. Stoesser
Mondays 2:00pm-4:00pm January and February 2014 (except Reading Week) Rm. 320 B

This seminar explores the theoretical implications and practical consequences of Adolphe Appia’s scenographic reforms with particular reference to their application in the production of The… Musician An Etude (Dancemakers Centre for Creation, January 2014).

Historical context will be examined through a selection of theoretical discourse on the Aristotelian concept of opsis in conjunction with the consideration of select Renaissance and modern manuals of practice. The seminar also includes an open conversation with founding members of the Toronto Laboratory Theatre regarding the creation and staging of The… Musician An Etude. The praxis component of the seminar allots ample time for applied exploration of Appian concepts.

Appia’s Music and the Art of the Theatre and The Work of Living Art as well as selected readings drawn mainly from the bibliography will structure the classroom discussions.

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