This course explores world drama in cultural contexts by actively examining ways in which performance mirrors cultures. Fueled by viewing films as well as experiencing live performances and discussions with theatre artists in the scheduled ports, the course analyzes a variety of theatrical traditions, practices, texts, design, and performance styles. The analyses of dramatic texts from each area (including the USA) form the theoretical base for the course’s seminar styled explorations. These texts include both traditional and contemporary works, both obscure and award-winning. The course considers each culture’s history, aesthetics, values, and socioeconomic standing, and how these components influence the culture’s theatrical forms and performance styles. Conversely, the course considers whether theatre “merely” mirrors these components of each culture, or actually influences them. The course challenges students to consider Western Theatre as a “co-star” on the world stage, rather than the center of it.
Field WorkCountry: Myanmar (Burma)
Date: February 20, 2019
Throughout the world and across many cultures, puppetry is one of the oldest forms of dramatic expression. According to most sources, Traditional Burmese puppet theatre dates from around the 15th century, with strings being added in the 18th century. Today the tradition is almost lost. Several individuals and organizations are striving to keep this important cultural heritage alive. We will spend a day with one such organization, the Myanmar Traditional Puppet Theatre. We will divide the day between history (both of the tradition and of the company), character descriptions, stories, and puppet making and later a dance demonstration by a local troupe. A local lunch will separate the day’s two sessions.
- Students will learn about the historical and cultural significance of Burmese Marionette Puppetry, both locally, and on the world stage.
- Students will see some of the craft of this dramatic art form, including the making of puppets and their manipulation by master puppeteers.
- Through observation, participation as audience members, and follow-up reflective discussions and activities, students will be able to appreciate and place this unique form of theatre within the broader context of World Drama.