Mission Statement:

“Political Performance”—the website—evolved from a course of the same name taught by professor Diana Taylor in Performance Studies at NYU in Spring 2004. The course examined the use of performance—by the State, by oppositional groups, and by theatre and performance practitioners—to solidify or challenge structures of power. We looked at specific paradigms of power (conquest, colonionialsm, fascism, military dictatorship, globalization) of the 20th and 21st Centuries. How have public spectacles been used to support or contest state power? We looked at Nazi rallies, anti-war demonstrations, AIDS activism,‘escraches’ (acts of public shaming by the children of the ‘disappeared’ in Argentina), and the current use of stagecraft by the Bush administration. Following the lead of theorist Guy Debord, we examined how the “concentrated spectacle” of fascism and military dictatorships blended with “diffuse” spectacles of capitalism resulting in the “integrated spectacle” of the current U.S. administration. We also explored language. How did theatrical terms such as ‘catharsis,’ ‘mimesis,’ ‘identification,’ ‘spectatorship,’ and so on, serve to elucidate political strategies? And how had language changed so that words such as “freedom” could refer to invasion, “patriot” (as in “Patriot Act”) become shorthand for blind allegiance, and intelligence gathering be demoted to unintelligable “chatter?”

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