Performance as Public Practice


The Performance as Public Practice Program at the University of Texas at Austin offers three degrees—M.A., M.F.A, and Ph.D. The Program focuses on the historical development, cultural and theoretical contexts, and artistic significance of theatre and dance disciplines and institutions, as well the interrelationships of theatre arts, and the role of performance in public spheres. The program is highly influenced by interdisciplinary work in performance studies, defining performance in varied and wide cultural contexts. Students are expected to give primary attention to an area of expertise of their choice, while training in the broader theoretical, critical, and historical contexts of the field. The Performance as Public Practice Program aims to graduate the next generation of leaders in the arts and academia. Our faculty defines "Performance," "Public," and "Practice," as follows:

Theatre, Dance, Culture, Ritual, and Identity

Performance reflects and produces cultural, historical, and political meanings. PPP students and faculty study embodiment and/or the analyses of texts.

Students and faculty in PPP examine a wide range of performances, texts, and embodied practices in order to consider the myriad ways in which performance both reflects and makes cultural, historical, and political meanings.

We access multiple campus archives such as the Nettie Benson Latin American Collection, the Harry Ransom Center, and the LBJ Library. We have interdisciplinary associations Center for Mexican American Studies, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, and Texas Performing Art. PPP is also an affiliate member of the Hemipheric Institute.

Student Work:

  • Funding Footprints: US State Department sponsorship of international dance tours, 1954-2010.
  • Roaring Times a Thousand: Performances of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Taiko Drumming
  • “Listen to the Stories, Hear it in the Songs”: Musical Theatre as Queer Historiography Progressive Compromises: Performing Gender, Race, and Class in Historical Pageants of 1913

Faculty Work:

  • Canning, Charlotte. The Most American Thing in America: Circuit Chautauqua as Performance. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2005.
  • Rossen, Rebecca. “The Jewish Man and his Dancing Schtick: Stock Characterization and Jewish Masculinity in Postmodern Dance.” “You Should See Yourself!”: Jewish Identity and American Postmodern Culture. Ed. Vincent Brook. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2006.
  • Paredez, Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.

Policy, Activism, Leadership

Public refers variously to the social impact and scope of performance works, community engagement projects and activities, as public policy studies and development.

Public refers to a myriad of identities and political positions, as well as materialist histories.

Student Work:

  • Adapting Boal's Legislative Theatre: Producing Democracies, Casting Citizens as Policy Experts.
  • Radical Street Theatre and the Yippie Legacy: A Performance History of the Youth International Party, 1967-1968.
  • (Re)Embodying girlhood: collective autobiography and identity performance in Rude Mechanicals' Grrl Action
  • Performing Liminal Citizenship
  • Too foul and dishonoring to be overlooked: newspaper responses to controversial English stars in the Northeastern United States, 1820-1870.

Faculty Work:

  • Canning, Charlotte. Feminist Theatres in the U.S.A.: Staging Women’s Experience. New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • Rebecca Rossen, “Uneasy Duets: Contemporary American Dances about Israel and the Mideast Crisis,” TDR: The Drama Review 55, 3 (Fall 2011), 40-49

Directing, Criticism, Performing, Dramaturgy, Pedagogy, Historiography

Practice encompasses the doing of performance and acts related to that doing. PPP students conduct performance-based research. They have the opportunity to work in local professional companies and departmental productions, develop site-specific performances, and collaborate and create performances for the biennial New Works Festival. Students teach courses about performance and including performance.

Student Work:

  • Actors as embodied public intellectuals: reanimating consciousness, community and activism through oral history interviewing and solo performance in an intertextual method of actor training
  • Embodied resistance: a historiographic intervention into the performance of queer violence
  • Landscapes of American modernity [electronic resource] : a cultural history of theatrical design, 1912-1951

Performance Events:

  • Susan Todd, Sycorax
  • Jaclyn Pryor, floodlines (2004-2010), pink: a love courier service, bread
  • Rayna Matthews, campcamp!
  • Roen Salinas, Grupo Aztlan

Faculty Work:

  • Bonin-Rodriguez, Paul. “Between One and Many: Dramaturgical Praxis at Jump-Start Performance Co.” Theatre Topics, Volume 13, Number 1, March 2003
  • Jones, Joni (Omi Osun) with Sharon Bridgeforth and Lisa Moore. Experiments in a jazz aesthetic : art, activism, academia, and the Austin Project. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010.

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