Academic journal article About Performance

Report on Teaching

Academic journal article About Performance

Report on Teaching

Article excerpt

Teaching is an aspect of academic work that is consistently undervalued and poorly acknowledged, so we decided an attempt to remedy this disservice would be in order. Since we instituted the second year course in Performance Studies (1996), our third year offerings have burgeoned, along with our enrolment. As a result, many of us have developed new course options which have stimulated students and even colleagues, in some cases. The first part below documents the many ways in which projects and workshops contribute to our teaching programme. We have then invited a selection of lecturers to reflect on their new offerings and how these have influenced directions in research and postgraduate work. To show how teaching and research are intimately connected, the editors will discuss the relations berween two of their new courses, Embodiment and Theories of the Actor, and the ongoing theoretical dialogue which has resulted from them.

Project-related teaching

Laura Ginters

It is a core part of the second year lecture course that the students are exposed to a variety of theatre practitioners. In 1997 guest lecturers included Noclle Janaczewska (playwright), Stephen Dunne and Pamela Payne (critics), David Ritchie and Gertraud Ingeborg (directors), Brett Sheehy (festival producer), Colin Mitchell (designer) and Deborah Kennedy (actor). A number of the third year options also made use of the experience of theatre professionals. To name just a few: Antony Ernst (dramaturg, The Bell Shakespeare Company) spoke to the Performing Shakespeare in England, North America and Australia seminar; Zanni Brothers (Commedia deUArte troupe) visited and performed for the Flexible Performance/ Commedia option; the Kinetic Energy Company lectured and demonstrated to the Rehearsal to Performance students; and the students taking part in Michelle Arrow's An is a Weapon option went on a field trip to visit the New Theatre.

Students are encouraged to attend as much performance as possible and this is supported by the Centre through a large number of subsidised, cheap or free tickets for a wide variety of performance. Other theatre visits form a compulsory part of some courses and attendance and documentation by video or still photography forms an essential part of Gay McAuley's Documentation of Performance course.

The major project forms a core part of the teaching in second year and third year (390). Students observe rehearsals over a period of two weeks and then write a casebook based on their experiences and analysis of the process. This year Harlos Productions, a company dedicated to realising contemporary European work on the Australian stage, rehearsed Esther Vi Jar's Stundenplan einer Rache ("Timerablc of Revenge") at the Centre. Translated from the German by Udo Borgen from the Department of Germanic Studies and Laura Ginters, the play is a rewriting of the Tristan and Isolde legend from the point of view of the character Isolde-hence its English title, Isolde and Tristan. The production enjoyed a very successful (sellout!) season at the Lookout Theatre and received very positive reviews.

In Fourth Year, Honours students all do a placement within the profession to witness at first hand how performance is made. They then write a casebook documenting their experiences. This year students did professional observation with the following companies and people: Company B at Bclvoir Street (Black Mary and The Birthday Party), the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA), Anna-Marie Dalziel and Colin Mitchell (designers), Public Works Theatre and Peter Matheson (dramaturg).

Embodiment

Lowell Lewis

I developed this course as an extension of my research interest in the ethnographic study of organised human movement. I argued in my book about Brazilian capoeira (1992), that scmeiotic systems which were not language-based (codified sound, movement, and visual patterning, primarily) should not be studied in the same way that language was studied, since the former were not organised in the same way. …

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