Ritual Drama – Dramatic Ritual: Anthropology, Theatre and Performance Practices (Berlin)

A 900 euro summer course in Berlin on theatre and Performance ritual with formed CCS prof Klaus Peter Koepping. Might be of interest to people.

Ritual Drama – Dramatic Ritual: Anthropology, Theatre and Performance Practices

wie versprochen: hier der Link zu Ihrem Kurs: More here. [this is the winter schedule, but the course is to be repeated in summer]

Deadline for application is June 16 2013

Write to: klaus.peter.koepping[at]urz.uni-heidelberg.de

Course schedule
Unit 1 Introduction: Overview of course content, grading, attendance, paper presentation, museum visit and final exam.

Frames: Theatre, Ritual and Everyday Action

Key Question: How do rituals frame our lives?

1. What is an “altar”, what a “stage”? The framing of space and time, the personnel, actor-audience relationships; performance in every-day interaction and as aesthetic events (feast, play, theatre, ritual), with excerpts from Pina Bausch’s “Kontakthof”, older and young amateurs rehearsing “the meeting of gender”.
2. a) Can rituals exist without society/or society without rituals? (excerpts from the film “Dogtooth” by Rachel Tsarangi; see also 4.3). 2.b) Can rituals be abolished by decree? (Point of reference will be the recent German court ruling against infant circumcision).
3. Do new Global Festive Events (Socker Cup, Love Parades and Carneval of Cultures) lead to new regional, national or global identities and community feelings? Example: When Tourist Routes replace Pilgrimages (excerpts from documentary by Dennis O’Rourke, “Cannibal Tours”; see also 6.3).

Unit 2 Social Components: The Creation of Collective Identity

Key Question: Which functions can ritual play for communal life and how are cultural “rules “ (or conventions) imprinted” in bodies?

1.The social functions of ritual as process and performance. Showing of an ethnological documentary (“Waiting for Harry” from Aboriginal Australia), incorporating everyday life into a ritual frame.
2.The three stages of the “ritual process”, including the notion of “liminality” as necessary component. The discussion will turn to the power of ritual to renew communal life and foster solidarity (excerpts from Japanese Butoh Performances expressing the state of humans as intertwining the natural and the cultural).
3. Comparison of initiations into groups of gender or social class (new educational methods of using rituals for crime prevention among youth or to strengthen gender-identities; film clips from “Wilderness School” in the US and the TV docu-play “The strictest parents of the world”. The notion of painful bodily inscriptions of “rules” (excerpts from performances by Orlan and Yoko Ono).

Unit 3 Rituals of History, Memory and Trauma

Key Question: How do we negotiate collective (and personal) identity in performing the past?

1. The creation of historical memory through new ritual forms (Foundation Days, Independence Day Parades, Memory Parks or Architecture). Photo section on various ritual venues: Christian Church Architecture and Shinto Shrines.
2. Bodily inscribing collective identity as well as memories and traumata (excerpts of a performance by Marina Abramovic).

3.Visit to Berlin Holocaust Memorial with observation of ritual space and visitors (see Unit 5 date for hand-in of paper on this as midterm-exam).

Unit 4 Rituals of Sacrifice and their Performative Re-creation

Key Question: What means authenticity in ritual and theatre?

1. The exemplary character of sacrificial rites as gift-exchange between humanity and the non-human realm.
2.The three sacrificial orders in ancient Greek mythic narrative, in ritual events and staged tragedies: the citizen’s rituals, the Dionysian rituals and the Pythagorean forms (excerpts from Schechner’s “Dionysos 69”). Sacrifice as compulsory excess and wasteful consumption like a “potlatch”.
3. Excerpts from “Sacre du Printemps” (“Rites of Spring” by Stravinsky) in the original Russian version and the version of Pina Bausch (see also 1.2 and 2.1).

Unit 5 As Midterm Exam: Hand-in of a short paper on the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Rituals and Public Displays of Power

Key Question: How does power use multi –sensorial means to achieve an a-(e-)ffective impact on the public?

1. Power and aesthetics at the court of Louis XIV; comparison to Balinese court-theatre (film excerpts on the ritual of the French court). The affective side of performative acts with emphasis on the sensual experience of music .
2.Discussion on the conjunction of ritual and theatre: the power of performance in modern political rituals (the creation of global icons such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or Che Guevara, among others).
3. Question: Can rituals ever fail? (Excerpts from a film on the public suicide by the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima).

Unit 6 Rituals of Subversion of Power: Ritual and Theatrical Figures of the Comic and the Marginal

Key Question: Can ritual or theatrical performances bring about concrete social change?
1. Discussion on braking taboos in “sacred” ritual and in modern theatrical productions (excerpts from musicals like “Hair” or “Jesus Christ Superstar”).
2. The subversion of normal reality and of status positions of power through ritual clowns(“tricksters”)/fools/jesters and other figures of “comedy”. Examples from North American Myths, African rituals, Classical Greek comedies, Italian cinema and Japanese folk rituals as forms of “ritual rebellion”.
3. The performance by Coco Fusco (“Couple in the Cage”) as paradigm for performing encounters with “Otherness”(see also 1.3).

Unit 7 Full-day excursion to Berlin “sites of ritual”
Unit 8 Final Exam