Confessions of a Student Body (THTR 280/480)

Inside Out:  Confessions of a Student Body was a performance created within Interdisciplinary Performance classes 280 and 480.  THTR 280/480 are intensive laboratory courses in performance creation leading to a public presentation.  Both senior and junior students work together to produce the work and compulsory rehearsals are scheduled outside of class time.

The objective of the courses (taught in tandem) is to train students in the skills required to create, produce and perform a devised public performance piece. These skills include:

  • Researching a defined source
  • Collaborating in the creation of performance pieces
  • Creating and disseminating publicity material
  • Recording audio and video material and employing it in the creation of performance pieces
  • Devising set, props and costumes
  • Performing and running the lights and sound for a series of performances

As the professor for this course, I initiated a research process with the students that would respond to my need to better understand student passions.  In some cases I sensed real loneliness amongst my students, in others, a disengagement from their own learning.  I challenged the students to explore and produce material that would serve to make themselves known to me, and consequently to the audience.  Stories ranged from an irreverent look at learning, loss, and living it up, to revealing insight into loneliness and fear on campus.

Two graduate students have assisted me in facilitating and directing this project:  Lara Haworth and Gabriel Newman.  Kevin Robertson, a Cultural Studies student, served as the digital media artist and documentarian, and Kyle Kotowick, a Computer Science student, served as the sound and lighting designer.  The performers came from various academic disciplines, including Management, Geography, History, English, Psychology and Interdisciplinary Performance.

Rather than simply asking the students to talk about their issues and interests with me, we generated the material indirectly.  At first I asked them to describe an aesthetic experience that resonated with them.  I wanted to know when the students truly felt “present” and engaged with their world.  In doing so, we discovered what constituted a transcendent or meaningful encounter for them.  They were also asked to describe important objects, photographs, and dreams.  They observed the campus itself and students on campus and attempted to recreate the spatial dynamics of their surroundings.  The material generated through this process was then structured into the performance.

We designed the room to reflect private and public space.  The audience travelled in nine different groups that circulated to nine different private cubicles where smaller groups and individuals performed eight minute presentations.  These individual cubicles matched the students’ personal stories to a wide variety of theatrical styles.

Click on LINK below to view poster:

Inside Out Poster