Seminar 1: On the edge of the visible: Theatre, philosophy and dramaturgy of sound (Wednesday, 2-4pm)

Like philosophy, theatre is a form of knowledge of the world, a way of existence. This seminar explores forms of theatrical composition in conjunction with concepts from the ancient philosophical tradition, pre-Socratic in the first instance. The relationship between philosophy and theatre opens up a preliminary investigation of contemporary theatre as creating a new theatrological perspective through the concepts of theatre (theatron), soundscape (akousma) or vocalization (phoné). The analysis of works by Romeo Castellucci|Societas, Raffaello Sanzio, Teatro delle Albe, Shiro Takatani, Bob Wilson, Jan Fabre or Heiner Goebbels and others will play a crucial role in this context. At the heart of our discussion lies the notion of a «dramaturgy of sound». On the contemporary stage, forms, sounds and colours seem to arise as a challenge to the visual paradigm, questioning the status of theatre as a place of vision. What do we see in the theatre? The epiphany of being could be one answer. It is exactly in this sense that the acoustic image can emerge –both in electronic soundscapes but also importantly in the use of the «theatre of voice» as Carmelo Bene, Ermanna Montanari and others have shown. In their works sound becomes an element that structures the logic of scenic composition, acting in a latent way on the attention of the spectator so as to re-organize their listening modalities: sound, like colour, marks the scene’s temperature in order to re-orient the audience’s perceptual faculties toward an immersive experience to be inhabited. To talk about the atmosphere in theatrical sense is to consider some acoustic and chromatic elements that extend and persist by acting on all aspects of the scene in a latent way. An atmosphere remains diffused, deep and almost imperceptible: it emerges from the play with chromatic variations, sound pulsations, light and acoustic figures.

Weekly seminar sessions start: December 11, 2019; plus obligatory masterclass: February 13-15, 2020)

Seminar 2: States of presence: Dance, technologies and immersive audiovisual environments (Wednesdays, 4-6pm)

This seminar sets out from an interdisciplinary understanding of the following concepts: bodies, perception and technologies of performance. In doing so, it draws on neurophysiology, architecture and immersive arts in particular to attempt to define the general aesthetic notion of corporeal presence onstage. In a survey of some key stage and choreographic practices, we will analyze the intermedial works of artists in Japan, Canada, USA and Europe, including Merce Cunningham, William Forsythe, Wayne McGregor, Ginette Laurin, Isabelle Van Grimde, Saburo Teshigawara and others. This course has two main objectives: firstly, it analyzes the impact of technologies in redefining the performer’s perceptual processes when composing movement; secondly, it re-defines the composition of the audiovisual stage itself. In the first instance, we will focus on the neurophysiological modalities of movement and presence. Here, we will pay particular attention to the role of imagination in composing gestures beyond the intervention of technologies on the performer’s perception – as is the case with motion capture, for example. This leads us to think of technologies not only as scenographic devices, but as a way of improving our sensory knowledge of the body and as an aid to develop new gestures. Secondly, new manifestations of multimedia performance have also led to the emergence of an autonomous form of theatre of objects and machines that operates in the absence of the actor’s body; instead the only presences are light and sound. This new composition of devices gives the scenic ambience an immersive quality, conveying a unique aesthetic that might be provisionally identified by a logic of latency. Finally, we will also tackle the notion of empathy as the active involvement of the spectator in this media environment.

Weekly seminar sessions start: November 27, 2019; plus obligatory weekend intensive: February 7, 12-4pm and February 8, 10-4pm)

Seminar 3: New dramaturgies and innovative tools of documentation in the performing arts (Thursdays, 10-12pm)

The aim of this seminar is to investigate two operative notions at work on the contemporary stage. We will explore the notion of «new dramaturgies» that emphasize sound and light as the main elements of stage composition. Building on this idea, this seminar investigates how multimedia arts’ performances, installations, audiovisual and immersive digital environments, etc. can be preserved through experiments with audiovisual documentation. We will employ both technical and theoretical-analytical skills in order to move from the analysis of creative processes and works produced toward a new prototype of documentation in the performing arts (including film, video and other documents). The seminar will consist of some discussion-based introductory sessions to analyze specific theatrical and choreographic works, and also be comprised of workshop sessions, in which students will be able to work on the creation of a documentation storyboard, starting from one of the performances discussed during the course.Working in this manner will allow us to think through how we remember, record and disseminate performances (and document the creative processes that support them) to create effective ways for promoting «immaterial» forms of cultural heritage.

In other words, the purpose of the seminar is to reflect on how to reconceive – with the support of advanced technologies – the tools and manners of engagement with the performing arts.

Weekly seminar sessions start: November 28, 2019; plus obligatory weekend intensive: January 24, 12-4pm and January 25, 10-4pm)