MFA Theater and Performance Making Practice Based Research Thesis Development
Development Project Two (Graduate Seminar TPM 7325)
Visiting Faculty: Ryan Tacata
California Institute of Integral Studies (SF) / University of Chichester (UK)
MFA Theater and Performance Making
This is the culmination of the ‘dissertation’ exercise. Students use their practice-as-research performance in Developmental Project 1, as well as extensive critical reading, as a starting point to realize a formal 10,000 dissertation, which reflects the critical agenda of their practice. Students are supported through their process with reading and writing-support classes, as well as regular supervision.
Developmental Project, as a whole, identifies, in academic contexts, what the student artist does and, through practice-led exploration in the studio and rigorous academic writing, identifies how they do it. While the Production module offers a significant and immediate indication of the ideas of the student, Developmental Project allows space for longer-term thinking and, as such, reflects the business plan expected as part of the Professional Portfolio module.
In Developmental Project 2, students work over an extended period to develop their reading, in relation to critical ideas emerging from Developmental Project 2, with the intention of writing an extended academic paper that shapes, defines and analyses their practice within an academic context. This is an important exercise, reflecting the likelihood of students’ recognizing the value of an academic career in parallel with a creative artist career.
At the end of the intensive period of Developmental Project 1, each individual candidate will be allocated a supervising tutor in San Francisco and/or Chichester. Regular correspondence and meetings will allow the student to develop ideas and reading towards offering a research proposal and literature review, which will serve as a starting point for the writing of a dissertation. Sharing these insights and the differences in making connections will be an integral part of the learning process and, as such, regular seminars will continue throughout the process.
SAMPLE STUDENT ABSTRACT
Mariah Jane CAstle MFA-TPM (2016)
Driving through a rainstorm on I-80 while my partner rides shotgun, blindfolded, and listening to a playlist that I hastily threw together the night before, he reaches over, takes my hand, and silently weeps. Giving this performative gift to my partner created an opening; a reconnection to his past and a deepening of intimacy between us. This moment, though, was a surprise. Rooted in third-wave feminist investigations on love and generosity, my research places performative gift-giving in the context of immersive performance for a lover. Feminist scholar bell hooks argue that transformation in relationships is not possible without a collaborative exchange between equals (hooks 2000). This paper argues that generating a feminist, one-to-one performance, as a romantic gift, creates a space of collaborative exchange that facilitates moments of unpredicted intimacy in immersive theatre. Drawing on artist collective Odyssey Works’ methodology of “falling in love” with their audience members (Burickson and LeRoux), this project asks: What happens when we apply audience-centered immersive theatre, and a methodology of love to our most intimate relationships? Can we fall more deeply in love with the people we are closest to by exchanging performative gifts? And how do we care for ourselves and our audience in equal measure in immersive performance? Ultimately, I define performative gift giving as love in action.