This course teaches students the rudiments of theatre history writing and performance analysis. There are two parts to this course that reflect the traditional scholarly division between theatre history and contemporary performance analysis. The first part ‘Theatre History/The Historical Record as Archive’ will present relevant case studies on ‘modern’ theatre and performance traditions in colonial South and Southeast Asia (e.g. English theatre in India, Parsi theatre, Komedie Stamboel). Simultaneously, you will be introduced to the research methods necessary to conduct original archival work (through digitized newspaper collections) and will be trained to develop a scholarly argument based on the primary sources that you have found. In the second part of the course ‘Performance Analysis/Performance as Archive’, we will read autobiographical texts by and critical works on the key practitioners of the most important performance movements of the twentieth century. Drawing on our understandings of these significant twentieth century performance movements, we will analyse contemporary theatre and dance productions staged at the Hong Kong Arts Festival. You will therefore learn to perform the work of not only theatre historians and historiographers but also performance studies scholars.
Topics include but are not limited to touring theatre circuits and Empire; colonial exhibitions; epic, intercultural, postcolonial and postdramatic theatre.
The primary focus of this course is to teach students how to do theatre and performance studies, that is, to produce an original piece of historical writing and analyse contemporary performances.
At the end of this class, students should be able to:
- Conduct basic archival research on colonial performance cultures in colonial South and Southeast Asia
- Construct a critical argument through a combination of primary and secondary literature and thereby produce an original piece of historical research.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the links between several influential theatre forms and genres and contemporary performance
- Possess the theoretical vocabulary to conduct performance analyses.
Class time will be devoted to presentations and seminar-style discussions. Students are expected to have read the required readings before attending class.
100% coursework, consisting of:
- Midterm Essay (40%)
- Final Essay (40%)
- Participation (20%)
Balme, Christopher, ‘The Bandmann Circuit: Theatrical Networks in the First Age of Globalization’, (2015).
Bharucha, Rustom, ‘A Collision of Cultures: Some Western Interpretations of the Indian Theatre’, (1984).
The required readings will be uploaded on Moodle.