Department of
Theatre Arts

THTR 412: History & Theory of New Media in Performance

Since the late nineteenth century cultural performance has been impacted by and closely linked to developments in technological media. 


This course explores the compelling interactions between live forms and mediated experiences, and the theatrical potential of new technologies. Beginning with a critical look at what a medium is and what constitutes a performance, we will survey key facets of the media/performance relationship from 19th century stage practices and the beginnings of cinema, the innovations of the 20th avant-garde, and the multimedia pioneers of the 1950-1970s. The balance of the course will focus on significant contemporary examples of the use of new media in performance to explore emerging patterns of practice and to consider how our cultural and aesthetic ideas about performance have been expanded. Discussion topics will include the uses of media on traditional stages, perceptions of the body in mediated and live contexts, spatial and temporal displacements, and immersive and interactive environments. Readings in the theory and history of the field will provide a context to understand and appreciate these innovations, and there will be substantial use of online and audio-visual materials. Some of the many artists, performers, choreographers and companies covered include the Wooster Group, the Builders Association, Josef Svoboda, Merce Cunningham, Bill T. Jones, Nam June Paik, Stelarc, Deborah Hay, Laurie Anderson, and Chunky Move. Students will be encouraged to think creatively about the use of media and performance in their final projects and we will use the resources of NYC for live performances and exhibits.