Across Disciplines: Performance Research and Response
Produced by Ruth Laurion Bowman
September 6 & 7
To open our eighth season in the Black Box, we tried something new; the first in what has become an annual event. The general aims of Across Disciplines are to highlight the interdisciplinary texture and dynamic of research in and as performance through its demonstration (by, specifically, graduate students) and in dialogue with scholars and artists from different disciplines. In the first event, four students presented their research. Justin Trudeau investigated Free Speech and Spectacle in the 1836 Channing/Phillips debate regarding mob violence. Greg Cavenaugh deconstructed the hermetic aspects of Dels-Art (i.e., Delsartes practices) through its embodiment. Rebecca Kennerly got messy: in the field and at the crossroads of roadside shrines. And Bruce France dramatized the connections between gonzo journalism and performative ethnography in a piece about Hunter [Thompson] and Me. The respondents on September 6 were Brian Casemore from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Wayne Parent from Political Science, and Ken Zagacki from Communication Studies. On September 7, we were joined by Les Wade from Theatre, John Whittaker and Roger Payne from Philosophy & Religious Studies, and Andrew King from Communication Studies.
The Moment I Wake Up . . .
Adapted & performed by Gretchen Stein
In her light-hearted comedy of made-up manners, Stein guided her audience past the Estee Lauder counter (and the understanding of make-up as solely a reproductive practice of gender discipline and consumption) to explore a range of cosmetic practices and aims. Performing a montage of materials, drawn in part from her MA thesis, Stein both interrogated and celebrated the performances and identities we construct and often invent through the art of making-up.
Faculty Performance Hour
Members of the CMST faculty graced the boards in an evening of solo and group performances. With fiery eloquence, Andrew King performed the classic recitation piece, The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert Service. Michael Bowman drew the audience into fits of laughter with his performance from Red Diaper Baby by Josh Kornbluth. Patricia Suchy charmed listeners with her comic look at Terse Verse, or, a Ten-Minute Package Tour of the Major Works of the Dead White Male Poets. And Jim Honeycutts band, Pepe, played three original pieces, which proved that drum solos are alive and kickin in Baton Rouge.
Contagion, or The Sad Story of a Performance Critic
Adapted by Craig Gingrich-Philbrook & Michael Bowman
Directed by Michael Bowman
In their adaptations, Gingrich-Philbrook and Bowman updated H. G. Wellss story about the young Egbert Cummins by making him a fledgling critic of performance art rather than of conventional theatre. By including additional characters (such as the Angel of Performance History) and materials (such as writings by Guillaume Apollinaire, Walter Benjamin, Pat Buchanan, Carrie Nation, and others), Bowman highlighted not only the anti-theatrical prejudice that concerned Wells but also the structural similarity in the language(s) of prejudice. Through performances that ranged from fierce to bittersweet to downright goofy, the cast also demonstrated the power of performance as a mode of risk-taking and invention as well as an activity that sometimes goes awry.
2040 Performance Hour
To conclude the semester, students in the introductory course offered pieces that ranged from Richard McKinneys performance of Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare to Wendy Armingtons performance of Grace Paleys Distance. The celebration also included a riotous group performance of Allen Ginsbergs First Party at Ken Keseys With Hells Angels presented by the entire Tuesday 2040 class!
Graduate Performance Hour
Our bards of spring ushered in the semester with pieces of prose, poetry, nonfiction, an original monologue, and collected narratives from individuals who live in the largely Spanish-settled St. Bernard Parish. Of further note were the song-stylings of Joe Mitchell who debuted his now famous folksong, The Blue Parka.
On the Road
By Jack Kerouac
Adapted & performed by Bruce France, Nick Slie, and Justin Trudeau
A quintessential beat story performed in a quintessential beat style, which of course questioned its own quintessence. In their performance of Kerouacs 1955 novel, the trio took us on the road with Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity, reveling in their coming-of-age adventures of friendship and self-discovery. To keep the beat, the ensemble interwove representational and presentational modes, enacting scenes amidst the audience who were seated on floor cushions, and reading directly from the novel, at mics and accompanied by live jazz musicians.
By Barry Unsworth * Adapted & performed by Greg Cavenaugh
Set in the middle ages, Unsworths tale recounts a wandering troupe of players who upon arriving in a village hear news of a murder. Rather than stage a play of Biblical truths (as expected), the players decide to enact what they know of the murder, leading them to question the authorities version of the events and landing them in a lot of hot water. With brilliant insight, Cavenaugh blended elements of medieval and contemporary performance to highlight their similar uses and aims that is, as practices that can conserve and also question the making of myths and mythologies.
Undergraduate Performance Hour
Our wonderful and wacky undergraduates demonstrate their inventive aplomb in a showcase of solo and group pieces. Among others, Danny Bono performed a series of original poems titled Fake Feather. Gregory Laney performed his mystory, Were off to See the Wizard, while Michael Shoemaker pondered the power of Pez dispensers in Bringing Back the Maguia. The evening concluded with a multi-media group performance inspired by Mr. Wilsons Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler.
Women of Algiers
By Assia Djebar * Adapted & directed by Karen McLaughlin
In her dazzling and disruptive retelling of the Algerian Resistance of 1954-1962, Djebar draws on the stories of women survivors and their families to recall that which the national history has forgotten. McLaughlins treatment included staged readings, striking imagery, and haunting acoustic orchestrations. Director for the Center of French and Francophone Studies at LSU, Djebar attended and offered her response to the production.
2040 Performance Hour
We closed our season with an evening of prose, poetry, and compiled pieces by our remarkable students in the introductory course.