Performance Studies:
  Seminar in English

            Week 3
Chapter 2 What is Performance?
           Iris Tuan
Richard Schechner’s Dionysus in 69
Students’ show “My Fairy Lady”
The relationship between God and human
Time: 1960s
Place: The Performance Garage in New
The birth ritual
Show the clips
     What is “To Perform”?
“To perform” relates to:
1. Being
2. Doing
3. Showing doing
4. Explaining showing doing
Guillermo Gómez-Peňa (p. 259)
Guillermo Gómez-Peňa and Coco
Fusco’s Couple in the Cage (p. 261)
Performances can “mark identities,
bend time, reshape and adorn the
body, and tell stories”(22).
Performances—art, rituals, or
ordinary life
Performances are made of “twice-
behaved behaviors”
Restored behavior—not-for-the first
time physical or verbal actions
       Ideas of Performances
Erving Goffman defines a performance as “all
the activity of a given participant on a given
occasion which serves to influence in any way
any of the other participants” (p. 23).
Allan Kaprow’s term “Happening” (p. 23) and
notion “Artlike Art and Lifelike Art” (p. 32)
The advertisement “Bill Parcells Wants You to
Perform” “conflates performing in sports,
business, sex, the arts, and technology” (p. 24).
   Eight Kinds of Performance
1. in everyday life—cooking, socializing, “just
2. in the arts
3. in sports and other popular entertainments
4. in business
5. in technology
6. in sex
7. in ritual—sacred and secular
8. in play (p. 25)
Marvin Carlon’s idea
E.g. Ice-skating
Show the clips
    Restoration of Behavior
O.B. Hardison’s concept “The
Medieval Mass was Drama” (p. 27)
Already behaved behaviors
Nakedness caused a stir in the 1960s
E.g. Richard Schechner’s “Dionysus in
Restored behaviors—habits, rituals,
and routines of life
“out there,” separate from “me”
      Beware of Generalizations
“Every performance is specific and different from each
other” (p. 29).
According to Clifford Geertz, “human behavior as
symbolic action” (p. 29)
“Is” Performance
Difference between “is” performance and “as”
performance? (p. 30)
what “is” a performance—should consider specific
cultural circumstances
The 3 Greek playwrights--Aeschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides and their famous plays (p. 31)
“as” performance—can be analyzed in terms of doing,
behaving, and showing (p. 32)
E.g. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s indicates “food as
performance” (p. 33)
   Make Believe vs. Make Belief
Make-believe performances “maintain a
clearly marked boundary b.t. the world of the
performance and everyday reality” (p. 35)
However, make-belief performances
“intentionally blur that boundary” (p. 35)
the kinds of activities are staged in detail
E.g. American Presidency
“spin masters”
Build the “human interest” angle into every
E.g. News
             Blurry Boundaries
Werner Heisenberg proposes his “uncertainty principle”
(p. 37)
John Cage’s music used indeterminacy as the basis (p.
Listen to his music concert on 4/12 Thu.
The Functions of Performance
Several proposals:
Bharata Muni: a comprehensive repository of
knowledge and a very powerful vehicle for the
expression of emotions (p. 38)
Horace: theatre ought to entertain and educate
This idea is followed by Bertolt Brecht
7 functions of performance (p. 38)
       Spheres of performance
Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed—
belongs to Political Theatre (p. 39)
Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai: The Model
Operas (p. 40)—serve for the Communist
Party of China
Susanne K. Langer notion “Every good art
work is beautiful” (p. 41)
Conclusion—many ways to understand
Performances in everyday life and identity
constructions are relatively fluid (p. 42)
Things to Think About
Things to Do
Arrange the order of students’
Invite 1-2 outside speakers’ talks in
class this semester for this course
Preview: see one of Peter Brook’s

Shared By: