DAY 7     May 1, 5, 8

Theatre as Laboratory

Experimentation with Non-Human Partners in Expanding Dramaturgies

Rebecca Rouse, Ashley Ferro-Murray



Theatre as Laboratory:

Experimentation with Non-Human Partners in Expanding Dramaturgies

Saturday, May 1: 2pm - 5:30pm (public) Wednesday, May 5: 2pm - 5pm (participants only)
Saturday, May 8: 2pm - 5pm (participants only)

In this three part workshop, participants will work together and independently to experiment with technologies and other non-human entities through the frameworks of partnership and play to re-imagine or be in conversation with Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet (1922) for today’s distributed audiences, nearly 100 years later. Schlemmer’s work is a theatrical movement experiment that explores the interaction of human and material in co-creation of space, as part of the Modernist project of making theatre “new” again. Participants are encouraged to use aesthetic, historical, or conceptual material from the Schlemmer ballet as inspiration for their own works. We anticipate both close interpretations and radical departures from this inspirational score.

In addition, workshop co-leaders Rebecca Rouse and Ashley Ferro-Murray will present various perspectives on research-performance methods that center the theatre as a laboratory for investigating fluid human and non-human collaborations.

The first session of the workshop will provide a research framework for production, and will be open to the public. Following the public presentations, workshop participants will gather in a closed forum to engage in a guided embodied ideation activity. As workshop participants develop short experimental prototypes, a second closed session will take place for participants to share works in progress. Finally, a third session will provide a platform for participants to present their short experimental works to the public, and be in discussion in a roundtable setting moderated by Rouse and Ferro-Murray. All activities will take place on Zoom.

Workshop Part 1 of 3

Saturday, May 1: 2pm - 6pm

2:00 - 2:15pm - Workshop introduction and overview, including                            description of the “assignment” for the public
2:15 - 3:00pm - Lecture 1:
Theatre as Laboratory for Expanded Human & Non-Human Partnerships (Rebecca Rouse)This talk examines the rich history of theatre as a laboratory for innovation and experimentation, with a particular focus on uses of new technologies on stage. Theatre is discussed as a medium uniquely suited to reflect, (re)enact, and share our own postdigital lived realities, in which our existence is marked by a heightened awareness of our shifting entanglement of human, technological, and nonhuman in interconnected negotiation
3:00 - 3:15 pm - Discussion
3:15 - 3:45pm - Break
3:45 - 4:30pm - Lecture 2:

Circumscribing Media: Historicizing the Contemporary in Media Performance (Ashley Ferro-Murray)This talk tracks performance makers who use or intersect with contemporaneous technical practices including doplar, biomedicine, infrastructure design, and televisual aesthetics. By way of case studies, Ferro-Murray lays a historical groundwork to frame the content of her own practice as curator of dance and theater at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC). The varied practices of several artists that Ferro-Murray has produced at EMPAC illustrate how the slippery relationship between human and non-human plays out in twenty-first century performance.
4:30 - 4:45pm - Discussion
4:45 - 5:00pm - Break
5:00 - 6:00pm - participants only - change to introduce each other, plus discussion of the assignment and do a brief guided activity to get creative juices flowing.

Workshop Part 2 of 3

Wednesday, May 5: 2 - 5pm

Facilitated sharing and feedback on work in progress by participants (closed to public). This could be split into two breakout rooms, to give each participant maximum time, with each of us in one room. 

Workshop Part 3 of 3

Saturday, May 8: 2 - 5pm

Public Presentation of short works (10 minutes maximum per participant) Followed by roundtable discussion / Q+A moderated by Rebecca and Ashley

Rebecca Rouse

Rebecca Rouse, PhD is a Senior Lecturer in Media Arts, Aesthetics & Narration in the School of Informatics’ Division of Game Development at the University of Skövde, Sweden. Rouse holds a PhD in Digital Media from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA), an MA in Communication & Culture from the joint program at York University and Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada), and a BA in Theatre Studies and German Studies from Brown University (Providence, RI), and has also trained at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company (New York, NY).

Rouse’s research focuses on theoretical, critical, and design production work with storytelling for new technologies, such as augmented and mixed reality. Rouse designs and develops projects across theatrical performance, museums, cultural heritage sites, interactive installations, movable books, and games, all with the thread of investigating and inventing new modes of storytelling. Recent theatrical works directed by Rouse include a production of Wilder’s classic play, “Our Town,” that incorporated a gesture-responsive large-scale 360-degree immersive screen; an adaptation of Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt” that utilised a range of technologies old and new from a miniature toy theatre, to large-scale live projection, to oversized puppets, and more; and a production of the Sondheim musical “Sweeney Todd” that incorporated responsive facial projection technology as well as traditional mask work. This artistic work dovetails with Rouse’s research in design methods, media theory, and the history of technology.

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Ashley Ferro-Murray

Ashley Ferro-Murray is a Curator of Theatre and Dance at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She also serves on the curatorial board of Body, Image, Movement Biennial in Madrid, Spain, and the editorial board of TURBA: The Journal for Global Practices in Live Arts Curation. Ferro-Murray’s curatorial practice focuses on expanding historical frames for performance and technology artworks while supporting artist-centered approaches to media. Publications include Chameleonic Survivalism: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s ‘Adaptive Strategies and Ways of Being in the World (forthcoming), Biological determinism – Evolutionary inertia, constraints (forthcoming), Transborder Immigrant Tool: Choreographic Resistance in the US-Mexican Borderlands, and Technologies of Performance: Machinic Staging and Corporeal Choreographies. Ferro-Murray holds a PhD in performance studies with emphasis in new media from the University of California, Berkeley.