M:PA, HI, GC
This is a methodology course for the LUC major of Political Arts and thus must be taken by students wishing to graduate with that major. It can also function as an elective under the Global Citizenship component of the LUC curriculum. There are no prerequisites for this course, and prior formal experience or training in the performing arts is not required.
In addition to voting at elections, signing petitions, joining focus groups, lobbying representatives, and availing ourselves of other conventional instruments for political participation, how do and can we express ourselves as active local and global citizens? Beyond the structures of institutional politics and the constraints of socio-economic choice, how do and can we exercise our creativity in response to political stasis and flux? Taking human expression as the starting point of political inquiry, this course tests the thesis that performance—of individual and collective identity, motivation, responsibility, will, and agency—is a powerful source for political awakening and understanding, towards a robust realisation of citizenship. The internal reflexivity and external responsiveness required for the preparation and delivery of any performance, for instance, may be analogous to the political, social, and ethical attitude we adopt towards ourselves when we take a stance and communicate it to our fellow citizens, our government, and the wider world; the aesthetic dimension of performance may also elicit and explain those emotions that move audiences from the stage and the rostrum alike. By analysing the political potential inherent in the performing arts in general and experimenting with the theatrical form in particular (in collaboration with the Dutch National Theatre here in The Hague), we will be in a position to draw well-informed conclusions after having experienced and reflected on the various theoretical and practical elements of this course. As with any exploration of citizenship worth the name, active participation will be key!
By the end of our exploration, we should expect to achieve:
a clear understanding of the political, social, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions of the performing arts in general and the theatre in particular;
a keen awareness of parallel elements in political participation, dramatic action, human expression, and social receptivity;
a deep appreciation of the political potential of performance, widely construed, and the transformative potential of such an appreciation;
a critical capacity for analysing and conceiving performances and creative citizenship; and
a dynamic approach towards possibilities and spaces for active participation.
Mode of Instruction
There will be two 2-hour sessions per regular week (N.B. due to public holidays in Block 4, missed sessions may be rescheduled), which will be organised largely as follows:
First session: seminar discussion
Classroom analysis of assigned texts, widely construed, with debate and reflection.
Second session: theatre workshop
Illustration of the foregoing analysis, with various practical exercises in participatory performance, in rehearsal and performance spaces in The Hague.
A blackboard site will support our in-class discussion. Do check our course site regularly for up-to-date reading assignments, multi-media material, and announcements. For further details of how the course will proceed, see sections below on “Assessment” and “Weekly overview”.
Seminar participation: 15%
Continuous assessment of your individual engagement with the course material and with the thoughts of your peers throughout the course.
Workshop participation: 15%
Continuous assessment of your individual engagement with the practical activities throughout the course, including collaboration with your peers during these exercises.
Reflection papers: 40%
Regular assessment of the progress of your understanding of the connection between performance and citizenship, through five short reflections of 500 – 600 words spread over the material and activities covered in Weeks 2 – 6. You will be graded on this cumulative portfolio of 2500 – 3000 words over this period.
Final assignment: 30%
Final assessment of your grasp of the importance of action, participation, expression, and receptivity in performance and citizenship, through a pre-approved group creation of the members’ devising, to be performed and/or presented on Monday of Week 8. The number of groups, group size and membership, and duration per performance/presentation will be determined collectively by the entire class in Week 2.
There is no set textbook for the course. Assigned readings will be made available on BlackBoard, alongside audio-visual material complementary to the course.
Dr. Cissie Fu at [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Week 1 – Introductions: Participatory aesthetics and expressive politics
Week 2 – Exploration I: Embodying me
Week 3 – Exploration II: Representing us
Week 4 – Exploration III: Scripting space
Week 5 – Exploration IV: Engaging audience
[N.B. no class on Thursday: to be rescheduled]
Week 6 – Exploration V: Claiming the common
Week 7 – Conclusions: Towards creative citizenship
[N.B. no class on Monday: rehearsal time!]
Week 8 – Presentation/performance of final group assignments on Monday evening
Preparation for first session
To be announced on the course BlackBoard site before Spring Break.