Performance as Public Practice

The University of Texas at Austin's Performance as Public Practice program focuses on the historical development, cultural and theoretical contexts, and artistic significance of theatre, dance and performance disciplines and institutions, as well as the interrelationships of these fields 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. Our internationally renowned program offers three degrees: M.A., M.F.A. and Ph.D.

Students have access to world-class research centers such as the Nettie Benson Latin American Collection, the Harry Ransom Center and the LBJ Presidential Library. The Performance as Public Practice Program and the Department of Theatre and Dance 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. Students have many opportunities to take courses across the university and can also pursue portfolio certification programs in such areas as African and African Diaspora Studies, Mexican American and Latino/a Studies, Women's and Gender Studies and Arts & Cultural Management & Entrepreneurship. The program is also an affiliate member of the Hemipheric Institute.

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"Performance," "Public" and "Practice" are defined as follows:

Theatre, Dance, Culture, Ritual and Identity

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

Samples of faculty publications:

  • Canning, Charlotte. The Most American Thing in America: Circuit Chautauqua as Performance. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2005. 
  • Guitiérrez, Laura. Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010. 
  • Guitiérrez, Laura. "El derecho de re-hacer": Signifyin(g) Blackness in Contemporary Mexican Political Cabaret. Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. Vol. 16 (2012), pp. 163-176 
  • Rossen, Rebecca. Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Policy, Activism and Leadership

Public refers variously to the social impact and scope of performance works, community engagement projects and activities, as public policy studies and development. It also refers to a myriad of identities and political position, as well as materialist histories.

Samples of faculty publications:

  • Bonin-Rodriguez, Paul. Performing Policy: How Contemporary Politics and Cultural Programs Redefined U.S. Artists for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 
  • Canning, Charlotte. Feminist Theatres in the U.S.A.: Staging Women's Experience. New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • Jones, Joni (Omi Osun) with Sharon Bridgeforth and Lisa Moore. Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism and the Austin Project. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010
  • Rossen, Rebecca. "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 and Historiography

Practice encompasses the doing of performance and acts related to that doing. Students conduct performance-based research, and have the opportunity to work with local professional companies and departmental productions, develop site-specific performances, and collaborate and create performances for the biennial Cohen New Works Festival.

Samples of faculty publications:

  • 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). Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Àse and the Power of the Present Moment. Columbus: Ohio State University, 2015. 
  • Thompson, Lisa. Single Black Female. New York: Samuel French, 2012.