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Performing Social Justice

Performance Lab

Katie Johnson (English) & Ann Elizabeth Armstrong (Theatre)

Performing Social Justice used performance as a way of engaging vital social issues and enacting change. Taught as a sprint course, the lab was organized around the following questions: how have notions of social justice been conceptualized over time? Who counts, or is excluded, from definitions of citizenship? How is social justice performed/embodied and by whom? How can performance reveal fissures in structures of oppression? How do various populations resist normative notions of citizenship, thus blurring lines between borders, nations, and the un/documented?

Taking inspiration from the Living Newspapers of the 1930s, as well as from contemporary practices in devising theatre, students in this lab researched, reflected, and took creative action as they experimented with ways to represent two complex civic problems--racism and climate change. The lab culminated in a short collaborative performance.  

Courses (spring 2020):

  • ENG386: Studies in Drama and Performance (Katie Johnson)
  • THE394: Topics in Dramatic Literature and Cultural Performance (Ann Elizabeth Armstrong)

Lab (8-week sprint course, spring 2020):

  • CAS320 UB: Performing Headlines, T 4:25-6:15 Hiestand 100
A group of students on a stage illuminated by spotlights
A group of students on stage singing
A group of students on stage miming eating
A cast of students standing on stage under spotlights in a row
Two students on stage one not speaking but one is
Four students stand in a circle on stage back to back in a circle