Theatre and Performance Brown Bag Lunch Series

Friday, September 22
READING THE ORACULAR SYSTEM OF IFÁ IN THE PITTSBURGH CYCLE
Presented by Prof. Artisia Green

This talk considers the late playwright, August Wilson and his signification on the oracular system of Ifá across plays within his Pittsburgh Cycle. I examine the effects of the symbols on the structure of the dramatic texts and on the politics and practices of characters within the Cycle. In plays such as Gem of the Ocean, Fences, and Two Trains Running, Wilson uses what I term an ethnocultural dramatic structure (Green 2015). In an ethnocultural dramatic structure, linear frameworks and their organizational markers—exposition, inciting incident, conflict, climax, and resolution—are inspired by and at times wholly marooned by distinct cultural and/or temporal Africanisms. Wilson’s use of this structure within the Cycle, rooted in the oracular system of Ifa, holds several implications. First, it demonstrates an intertextuality between orature and literature while affirming a particular oracular system whose origins can be geographically situated, have been preserved across time and space, and can be invoked in the dramaturgical and production process. Second, Wilson’s dramaturgy as informed by a Yorùbá oracular impulse, is an expression of a “distinctively African ethos” (Neal 1968) that offers an approach to dramatic analysis which challenges western epistemologies of textual production, examination, literary theory, and play production. And third, Wilson’s use of this particular ethnocultural dramatic structure affirms the intersection of the cosmos with the drama of the human condition. Through cosmic design characters (readers and those who bear witness to Wilson's plays) achieve unity with the divine aspects of their identity and are reminded that the solutions to the social dilemmas of their present can be found in their past.

Artisia Green (BA, College of William and Mary; MFA, Virginia Commonwealth University) joined the William and Mary faculty in 2010. In 2016, she earned an Arts & Sciences Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence and she holds concurrent appointments as the Sharpe Associate Professor of Civic Renewal and Entrepreneurship of Theatre and Africana Studies and Director of the Program in Africana Studies. Artisia is published in August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle: Critical Perspectives on the Plays edited by Sandra Shannon, Continuum: the Journal of African/Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance, and African American Culture: From Dashikis to Yoruba (forthcoming with Greenwood Press). She is an Educational Coordinator for the August Wilson Society and Co-Editor of the AWS Study Guides.

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Friday, November 3
A REPERTOIRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN POST-DICTATORSHIP ARGENTINA
Presented by Prof. Silvia R. Tandeciarz

This talk focuses on the pedagogical program, Jóvenes y Memoria (Youth and Memory) developed by an Argentine NGO to encourage the kind of historical recollection among Argentine youth—individual and communal—that can help educate citizens committed to the defense of democratic principles. Drawn from the final chapter of my forthcoming book, Citizens of Memory: Affect, Representation, and Human Rights in Post-dictatorship Argentina, I frame my analysis of this high school educational program using Performance Studies, especially Diana Taylor’s conceptualization of the archive and the repertoire.

Silvia R. Tandeciarz is the Chair of Modern Languages and Literatures, Alfred Ritter Term Professor of Hispanic Studies and CLA Fellow. Her research over the last decade has focused on the intersection of trauma, memory, and human rights in Latin America’s Southern Cone. It rests on the conviction that storytelling is vital to the creation of collective memory and to the ongoing work of democratization; that it provides the necessary frameworks for tapping our shared aspirations and generates spaces of hope to map a way forward. In addition to this work, she is a translator and a poet. Her most recent courses include a senior seminar on "Cultures of Dictatorship," "Introduction to Hispanic Studies," and a COLL 300 Poetry Writing Workshop taught in Spanish.

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Friday, December 1
BODY IMAGING IN POPULAR FILM AND MEDIA
Presented by Prof. Laurie J. Wolf and Students

The cinematic body of the woman has long been the central focus for theories of spectatorship and psychoanalytic film theory as well as feminist media and cultural studies. As such it provides rich material for an interdisciplinary conversation, not only about socio-cultural and psychological constructions of gender, sexualities, and power but also about the pathologies of body disturbances and eating disorders which have become increasingly prevalent among contemporary women and girls. Using film and related popular media as our texts, students examine how screen "embodiments" of the woman visualize ideologies of discipline and desire in a culture in which her body has become a representation of the ability to control appetites, size and shape while investing personal and social capital in its rehabilitation as a project of endless reconstruction, redesign and maintenance.

Laurie J. Wolf is an Associate Professor and Director of Theatre at the College of William and Mary, where she teaches theatre history, Renaissance studies, and feminist theory. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA, and previously taught at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is the author of several books on theatre, including Performance Analysis: an Introductory Coursebook, co-edited with Colin Counsell and published by Routledge, and Introduction to Theatre: A Direct Approach, published by XLibris. She is dedicated to the development of new writing; previous students have had works produced at NYC Fringe, Capital Fringe and the Royal Court Theatre in London.​

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