Making Performance on Socio-Political Questions

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“The best course I have
taken in my entire life.
I do not say that lightly”
–anonymous student evaluation

pushing the doorframe through Lavapies 449x600 Making Performance on Socio Political Questions

Loreto Ares, Miguel “Melo” Quintana, Joan Taipo-San, Eryn Rosenthal, and José Luís Cano Blanco in Tú Aquí, a chapter of The Doors Project. Doorframe design by Bea Velasco; construction at La Nave Trapecio, La Tabacalera Cultural Center, Madrid. Additional thanks to: Cristhian Salazar, Cecilia Ruiloba, José Jerónimo, Natalia Sánchez-Ton i Normand, and Jesús Escobar. Photo by Cecilia Ruiloba.
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Making Performance

on Socio-Political Questions

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Yale University, fall 2019
Wednesdays, 3.30-6.30pm
Visiting Professor Eryn Rosenthal

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Press:

RC Visiting Artist and Student Present at Convening of Campus DEI Leaders

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Course Description:

This composition workshop-style course is a generative laboratory to make rigorous, experimental works that open reflection on socio-political issues. Our seminar involves: a study of other artists’ work and ways they engage with wide-ranging political matter through performance, animation, sculpture and other media; an embodied exploration of compositional elements at different sites on Yale’s campus; and creative assignments that employ various methods to interrogate sociopolitical material of your own choosing. We’ll be examining the immediate, present, and personal relationship of the body to performance in a very expansive way, studying William Kentridge’s stop-gap animation, Titus Kaphar’s large-scale murals, and Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial, for example, alongside more traditional understandings of performance in theater, dance and film. Questioning assumptions of performance, genre, audience and politics will form an important part of our work in this interdisciplinary class, as will a detailed examination of compositional elements common to multiple art forms. We will gain practice and experience with different approaches to making performance and different ways to deploy compositional tools, depending on your objectives. No previous experience in performance or socio-political action necessary, and all bodies, abilities, and backgrounds are actively welcome on this journey; experimentation, adaptation and play with formats and tools that may be new to you will be encouraged. The course will culminate in a public showing of original student work.  

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Student responses (anonymous):

“Something deep and incredibly meaningful changed in me because of this course… I felt so much more confident and expressive and myself. I have never had an academic experience as transformative as this class. ABSOLUTELY MUST TAKE!! No matter what subject matter another student is interested in. This has been the best course I have taken in my entire life. I do not say that lightly! … I loved finding a new, more artistic side of myself in this class. I cannot recommend it enough.” 
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“This is the class to take if you want to make mind-blowing art! This is a class where we actually DID IT rather than just talking about it. … I would definitely recommend this course to any student interested in performance, in politics, in art or imagination. Having experience in performance is not necessary to succeed in this class–some of the students were Theater Studies majors and some did not have a performance background.”
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“This course was a transformative exploration into different modes of artistic creation. An excellent intersection of discussing syllabus materials and on-your-feet exercises/workshops. By the end of the semester I felt not only that I have a stronger sense of whose shoulders I stand on when I say I want to create theater that signifies politically, but also a toolkit of how to do that. Eryn is a wonderful mentor… I could not recommend this course more, for anyone, but particularly for artists interested in strengthening their knowledge of/skills in socio-political creation. The course has transformed the way I view myself as an artist and maker in the world. Take it!!”
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“Amazing professor! She taught us so much and gave us such great perspective! …This course challenged my perspectives and gave me a whole new view on art and its social impact. I learned about… many different works of art from around the world and was challenged to create powerful and moving art myself too. … If you want (or need) to leave your comfort zone, take this course! It will engage you and challenge you all while turning you into a change maker and powerful artist. If you’re used to more conventional theater studies/ art classes, you could probably use a venture outside of your bubble and this is exactly the class to do that with.”
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“Eryn pushed us firmly but feelingly to challenge ourselves and think outside the box, to discover new things about ourselves and our abilities, and to play. This level of individual attention is a rare and wonderful gift for the college student. … The blended format of the class (discussion, then into practical workshop) worked very well, and highlighted that nexus of theory and practice that a Yale education in the arts should represent, that elusive but necessary joining of thought and feeling. The emphasis in this class on play was important to me, the way that happy accidents can sometimes lead to the most thought-provoking art. On a personal level, I have become bolder and more confident as a person and artist as a result of taking this course.” 
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Bio:

Choreographer Eryn Rosenthal examines the role of the body in transgressing previously legislated boundaries. Her ongoing series, The Doors Project, investigates transitions–political, social, intimate–through site-based performance in different doorways around the world. Eryn has worked with choreographer Sello Pesa, poet Elizabeth Alexander, and documentary theatre pioneer Anna Deavere Smith, and has performed and taught throughout the US, South Africa and Europe. Her research and performance have been recognized with a Fulbright Fellowship to Spain and an Open Society Institute President’s Grant to South Africa, among other awards.

Eryn was recently the inaugural Artist in Residence for Dialogue-Building, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at the University of Michigan, and she is delighted to be back at her alma mater. www.erynrosenthal.com

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© Eryn Rosenthal, 2015-19. Please share with link to this page, and feel free to contact me with any questions.