Topic outline

  • General Intro

    Borders, Boundaries, and Crossings

    Instructors: Brenda Foley and Carmelita Tropicana

    Level: Advanced

    T, TH 11:30-12:50

    Green Room and Whittemore


    Which presentation of myself

    Would make you want to touch

    What would make you cross the border

    Savage/Love, Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin

    This class will be an exploration of the ways in which we construct and perform narratives of identity. Employing perspectives from performance, gender, and global studies we will combine theory and practice through a series of workshop projects, including classes led by renowned Cuban-American performance artist/writer Carmelita Tropicana who will be in residency at Marlboro this spring. The class will culminate in a workshop showing of student written performance pieces.  Prerequisite: intermediate performance class and permission of instructor. 


    The semester is divided into (approximately) four three-week study/exploratory thematic sections: history, place, identity, and hybridity.  Each section will include combinations of readings, writing (creative and scholarly), and performance projects.

    This is a discussion-based class therefore attendance and reading of the material is essential for individual accomplishment as well as the success of the class as a whole. Readings and class discussions 30%, writing and project assignments 30%, final project and performance w/ six page paper 40%

    There are three excused absences, after which your grade will drop a half grade per absence. Late assignments will be marked down one full grade for each day past the due date. I do not accept assignments by email. Please do not use your laptop, cell phone, or google glasses in class and consult the college policy in the handbook with regard to plagiarism.

    The syllabus is subject to change.

    • Intro Class 1/22

      Overview of the course

      Due in the next class: Read Milk of Amnesia/Leche de Amnesia (pg. 52) and Performance Art Manifesto (pg. 177) in I, Carmelita Tropicana

    • Tuesday 1/28


       “The murmur of time is the essence of the theater space, mantic, coded by history…” Herbert Blau (as qtd by elin diamond in Unmaking Mimesis)

      Discussion: Structure of the class, assigned readings, and how we’re defining narrative (or aren't)

      Due in the next class: read the first two chapters in The Knowing Body and Jose Munoz’s essay, "Sister Acts: Ela Troyano and Carmelita Tropicana"

      • Thursday 1/30

        Discuss the readings, do a collaborative in-class writing exercise

        Due in the next class: in preparation for Carmelita’s visit, read Memories of the Revolution and her Intro (in I, Carmelita Tropicana) and Arnold Aronson’s Performance Art chapter in American Avant-Garde Theatre

        • Tuesday 2/4

          Carmelita Tropicana joins us! Discussion and Q&A

          Bring in your assigned writing pieces for a roundtable with Carmelita

          Due in the next class: Based on Carmelita's notes/collaboration, present a workshop reading of your piece

          • Thursday 2/6

            Continued Carmelita Tropicana's residency - workshop writing/performance pieces based on an injustice you either witnessed or in which you participated. 

            Due in the next class: watch Spalding Gray's Gray's Anatomy and read Savran’s "The Haunted Stages of Modernity" and Schacter’s "Emotional Memories"

          • Tuesday 2/11

            Discuss the readings and Spalding Gray's work

            Due in the next class: Read Deb Margolin's Time is the Mercy of Eternity and Split Britches by Peggy Shaw, Deb Margolin, and Lois Weaver and bring in your performance pieces with the additions/changes from Carmelita's notes

            • Thursday 2/13

              Discuss the plays and perform your workshopped pieces

              Due in the next class: Read Bachelard's "Nests" and "Corners," Massey's "The Elusiveness of Place" 

              • Tuesday 2/18


                Discuss the essays and play

                Due in the next class: Read "Site-Specific Art," "Playing the Other," and Karen Finley's play TBD, and plan a site-specific exercise for the next class

                Attend The Guthrie's Hamlet downtown at The Latchis 7:00 on Feb. 20th

                • Thursday 2/20

                  Discuss reading and perform site-specific exercises

                  Attend The Guthrie's Hamlet downtown at The Latchis tonight at 7:00 and write a response due 2/25

                  Due in the next class:

                  Part One: Choose an object you either love or hate.
                  Describe in detail the physical properties- shape, size texture, etc.
                  When how did you acquire this object? Do you use this object - alone with others? How does object make you feel when you use it? where is this object?
                  Part Two:
                  Give this object to someone you know really well. Who is this person?How do they relate to it? How do they use it? Do they share same feelings you do- love or hate or other feeling.

                  • Tuesday 2/25

                    Discuss the "object" writing pieces with Carmelita and Ain

                    Attend Carmelita's History Herstory performative interview with Ain Gordon on Feb. 26th at 7:00 (and write a response paper due 3/4)

                    Due in the next class: Perform the "object" pieces based on the notes from Carmelita and Ain

                    • Thursday 2/27

                      Workshop the "object" pieces with Carmelita

                      Due in the next class: Read Carmelita's The Conquest of Mexico as Seen Through the Eyes of Hernan Cortes's Horse, "Theory and Practice" from Devising Theatre, and Clare's "Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies"

                      • Tuesday 3/4

                        Discuss the readings and Carmelita's notes 

                        Due in the next class: Continue workshopping the "object" pieces and finish reading Margolin's Time is the Mercy of Eternity (it's in the bookstore now)

                        • Thursday 3/6

                          Due in the next class: Read the Holly Hughes, Alec Mapa, and Peggy Shaw plays from O Solo Homo, and Anzaldua's The Coatlicue State (see link)

                        • Tuesday 3/11


                          Discuss the readings

                          Due in the next class: Read Ping's Details Cannot Body Wants, Finley's Mothers at the Graves

                          Also, bring in your pieces you've written thus far so we can go over them and think about how they might fit together

                          • Thursday 3/13

                            Discuss the plays and workshop the pieces and how they might fit together

                            • Tuesday 4/1

                              Bring in your pieces written thus far so we can discuss how they might fit together 

                              ATTEND Carmelita's work-in-progress, Schwanze-Beast, this evening in Whittemore at 7:00 and write a response (due April 8th)

                              Due in the next class:  Quan's The Girl Who  Wouldn't Sing, and workshop your pieces

                              • Thursday 4/3

                                Workshop pieces and discuss plays

                                Due next class: Read pieces from Animal Acts: Performing Species Today Rachel Rosenthal's, The Others

                                Bring in new "Identity" writing piece based on the following prompt: Explore a moment when another person or event imposed an identity on you – be as abstract and inventive as you want  

                                • Tuesday 4/8

                                  Read and discuss Rachel Rosenthal's play and new Identity writing pieces

                                  • Thursday 4/10

                                    Workshop Identity pieces 

                                    Due in the next class: Writing piece from Carmelita's prompt:

                                    There are stories in our bodies, markers. See yourself or another person who has a scar, a beauty mark, birth mark or designed tattoo.
                                    How did this scar, tattoo happen? When, where? How did it affect the person/character? Were there other people present?
                                    Tell the real story describing details.
                                    Then write an account that is fiction.

                                    • Tuesday 4/15


                                      Read and discuss the new writing pieces

                                      Due in the next class: We will go over all the pieces and pick which ones to use in the works-in-process showing on the 5th

                                      • Thursday 4/17

                                        Deliberation Day! Come prepared with your pieces and ready to discuss them and make a decision about which ones to use in the works-in-process on the 5th. 

                                        Due in the next class: Construct a running order - and workshop the pieces; Read Ain Gordon's Art, Life, and Showbiz which is on reserve in the library (in a box w/ my name behind the desk)

                                        • Tuesday 4/22

                                          Discuss Ain's play, finalize which pieces we'll be performing on the 5th, solidify the running order

                                          Due next class: workshop pieces and run them using tech - try to have them memorized - line due date is Tuesday April 29th

                                          WEDNESDAY DED HOUR REHEARSAL 4/23 1:15 in Whittemore

                                          • Thursday 4/24

                                            Block staging with lines off book where possible

                                            Due next class: Carmelita joins us, lines due, run the pieces for her notes/advice

                                            • Tuesday 4/29

                                              Carmelita's last residency week to workshop writing pieces with us

                                              WEDNESDAY 4/30 DED HOUR in Whittemore 1:15 roundtable w/ Carmelita

                                              • Thursday 5/1

                                                Carmelita joins the class to rehearse pieces for work-in-progress

                                                TECH FOR THE SHOWING IS SUNDAY AT 1:00

                                                WORK IN PROGRESS SHOWING MONDAY MAY 5th at 7:00 with Deb Margolin

                                                • Tuesday 5/6

                                                  Final class - Guest Artist Workshop: Deb Margolin