PERF07010 2013 Culture Performance and Representation (Postmodern Performance)

General Details

Full Title
Culture Performance and Representation (Postmodern Performance)
Transcript Title
Cult Perf and Rep Postmod
N/A %
Subject Area
PERF - Performing Arts
COMP - Computing & Creative Practices
07 - NFQ Level 7
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2013 - Full Academic Year 2013-14
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Rhona Trench
Programme Membership
SG_APERF_H08 201300 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Performing Arts SG_APERA_B07 201700 Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts (Acting) SG_APERT_B07 201700 Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts (Theatre Design)

This module explores contemporary performance techniques for actor training and devising by companies like Theatre du Complicite, Blue Raincoat Theatre Company and Ontological Hysteric Company for example, who have used the notion of 'ensemble' to create new and innovative ways of staging, through devised work created in collaboration with the entire company of performers and directors, rather than relying on the traditional hegemonic structure of the theatre director controlling the artistic input into the performance. The module considers how postmodern practitioners use innovative theatre practice and acting techniques to create new work. General definitions of the term "postmodernism" show a tendency to favour reflexivity, self consciousness, fragmentation, discontinuity, ambiguity, simultaneity. The module examines the work of theatre companies/productions/plays,  exploring how postmodern performance practice encapsulates some of the definitions of the postmodern and how this transforms the theatrical landscape.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


critique a range of performance media from the postmodern framework


understand the significance of non-text or 'anti-text' based productions which might be inspired by the visual potential of photography, painting, lighting, colour, mood; or through the impact of devising, facebook and second-life etc.


design a postmodern presentation, debating the choice of subject matter and the significance of its meaning critiqued through the postmodern lens


investigate the impact of postmodernism on any one issue, such as gender, cultural identity and power for example 

Module Assessment Strategies

Continuous Assessment - 10%

Exam - 50%

Term Essay - 30%

Presentation -10%

Indicative Syllabus

Key trends/philosophers/figures examined in this module will include the following:

Theatre of Images - Robert Wilson. Wilson's productions have decisively shaped the look of theatre and opera. He thinks in images and not in words. Through his signature use of light, his investigations into the structure of a simple movement, and the classical rigour of his scenic and furniture design, Wilson has continuously articulated the force and originality of his vision. Wilson's work has close ties and collaborations with leading artists, writers, and musicians. He is into slowing down movement/displacing formal language/listening to the body/the importances of silences and rhythm/ to the significance of inner worlds.

Richard Foreman - Ontological Hysteric Theatre- Foreman's work draws on design, text and the live performance of actors equally, to create a different focus and relationship between the stage and audience. Foreman describes his works as "total theatre". The goal of his performances is a "disorientation massage", in contrast to Aristotle's goal of catharsis. Foreman is responding to a world in which visionary sages and poets are being replaced by specialists who make platitudes out of the immediately observable and hand-feed them to the public. In Richard Foreman's universe, his muse and ally, the unconscious, fights back to life in a shape resembling "the stone that rolls up the hill backwards" (the evil one) and from such "evil", life renews itself.

Robert Lepage - Interested in past and present/Identity/Reality and memory/Truth and myth in the postmodern sensibility. Repeated reliance on flashbacks, parallel montage; in his films, tracking shots, and invisible cutting, use of colour, water imagery, and films-within-films. His work is purposely open to interpretation, non-defined, fragmentation, and can be pulled in different directions. Its micro-narratives strive to deconstruct the framework of the whole or grand-narrative. Interested in the phenomenon of creative expression through a highbrid of arts, culture and new technology -particularly the use of the internet and digital systems.

Jean Baudrillard: loss of history/proliferation of kitsch, mass-produced products which contribute to society as simulacra/ a consumer society/Loss of the real - simulacra and simulation/reliant on language to structure our perceptions, any representation of reality is always already ideological, always already constructed by simulacra.

Linda Hutcheon: The Politics of Postmodernism and the Poetics of Postmodernism, has outlined some of the major aesthetic features of postmodern literature, particularly of what she terms "historiographic metafiction." According to Hutcheon, one of the main features that distinguishes postmodernism from modernism is the fact the it "takes the form of self-conscious, self-contradictory, self-undermining statement". Hutcheon argues that "through a double process of installing and ironizing, parody signals how present representations come from past ones and what ideological consequences derive from both continuity and difference". Her discussion of parody and irony has also been highly influential, helping scholars and students alike think through the value and effectiveness of various postmodern artistic forms. She thus provides a positive take on the strategies of postmodern works.

Frederic Jameson: offers a critical view of our present age, in particular the dangers of multi-national capitalism outlined as an internationalization of business beyond the older imperial model; in the new order of capital, multinational corporations are not tied to any one country but represent a form of power and influence greater than any one nation. That internationalization also applies to the division of labor, making possible the continued exploitation of workers from poor countries in support of multinational capital.He also warns against the dangers that result from what he sees as our society's loss of connection with history and with the suffering of the oppressed. His seminal works Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), offers a particularly influential analysis of the postmodern condition. Like Jean Baudrillard, whose concept of the simulacrum he adopts, Jameson is highly critical of our current historical situation; indeed, he paints a rather dystopic picture of the present, which he associates, in particular, with a loss of our connection to history. What we are left with is a fascination with the present. According to Jameson, postmodernity has transformed the historical past into a series of emptied-out stylizations (what Jameson terms pastiche) that can then be commodified and consumed. The result is the threatened victory of capitalist thinking over all other forms of thought. Jameson, considers postmodern parody as a symptom of the age, one way in which we have lost our connection to the past and to effective political critique.

Jean Francois Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition explored. End of Grand Narratives/explores the relations between knowledge, art, politics and history, in ways that offer radical new possibilities for thinking about modern culture. The rational self (capable of analyzing the world) is a fiction/Metanarratives, or "grand narratives" (dominant  ideologies) provide a 'credible` purpose for knowledge, science, and technology in advanced capitalist societies (e.g., knowledge is produced for its own sake)/Postmodernist thought must question, critique, and deconstruct metanarratives/Postmodernist thought must prefer mini-narratives that are "provisional, contingent, temporary, and relative"./Postmodern breakdown or fragmentation of beliefs and values.

Artists, painters, designers, music videos, MTV, reality t.v., facebook, twitter, second-life might also be considered.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Group Project participation in content and ideas Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 10 % OnGoing 1,2,3,4
2 Individual Project Presentation Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 10 % OnGoing 1,2,3,4
3 Open Book Exam Written Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 50 % End of Term 1,2,3,4
4 Individual Project Term Essay Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 30 % End of Term 1,2,3,4

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Flat Classroom Lecturer-led 1 Weekly 1.00
Tutorial Flat Classroom student-led 2 Weekly 2.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Causey, Matthew, Theatre and Performance in Digital Culture: from simulation to embeddedness, (London: Routledge, 2009)
Maria M. Delgado and Caridad Svich (eds.), Theatre in Crisis?: performance manifestos for a new century, (Manchester University Press, 2002)
Richard Foreman:
 Plays and Manifestos (1976)
 Theatre of Images (1977)
 No-body: A Novel in Parts (1996)
 Paradise Hotel and Other Plays (2001)
 Richard Foreman (Art + Performance) (2005)
 Bad Boy Nietzsche! and Other Plays (2005)
 Manifestos and Essays (forthcoming 2010)
Davey, Kate, Richard Foreman and the Ontological-Hysteric Theater, (New York: Vintage Books, 1981)
Dundjerovic, Aleksandar Sasa, The Theatricality of Robert Lepage, (London: Routledge, 2009)
Caux, Patrick & Gilbert, Bernard, EX MACHINA: Creating for the Stage, (UK: Talonbooks, 2009)
Sandler, Irving, Art Of The Postmodern Era: From The Late 1960s To The Early 1990s, (u.s.: Trade Paperback, 1997)
Murphie, Andrew and Potts, Culture and technology, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)
Bertens, Johannes Willem and Bertens, Hans, The idea of the postmodern: a history, (London: Routledge, 1995)
Leitc, Vincent B.,Postmodernism: local effects, global flows, (State University of New York, 1996)
Whitmore, Jon, Directing Postmodern Theater: Shaping Signification in Performance, (University of Michigan, 1994)  

Other Resources

Film, Director - Katherina Otto-Bernstein, Absolute Wilson: The Biography, featuring Robert Wilson, Susan Sontag, Philip Glass and David Byrne, 2006

Robert Foreman:

  • Radio Rick in Heaven and Radio Richard in Hell, film (1987)
  • Total Rain, video play (1990)

Robert Lepage:

  • 1992: Tectonic Plates
  • 1995: Le Confessional
  • 1997: Le Polygraphe
  • 1998: 
  • 2000: Possible Worlds
  • 2003: The Far Side of the Moon

Other films might include: Chuck Palahnuik's Fight Club, David Fincher's The Matrix, Kinji Fukasaku's Japanese movie Battle Royale,