With roots in Vaudeville, the Commedia dell-Arte, and beyond, improvisatory theatre has a rich tradition of political, social and artistic subversions. In this course, students will both study the history and theory of improvisation, and experiment with it in performance. In addition to theatre, we will explore improvisation as a phenomenon in other arts, and will hear from experts about the ways improvisatory approaches nourish their practices. Readings and viewings will include excerpts from the works of John Cage, Mikhail Bakhtin, John Rudlin, Tadeusz Kantor, E. Gordon Craig, Jaques LeCoq, and Augusto Boal, among others. Various guest artists will introduce students to contemporary practices in devised theatre, theatre of the oppressed technique, and more. Classes will alternate between days devoted to discussion of assigned readings and viewings, and days of immersion in practice. The course will culminate in a public performance of a devised, original improvisatory performance of a work-in-progress, on a chosen theme.
There will be two papers and ongoing discussion paragraphs assigned, as well as a final project.