Instructor: Tim Soulis
What do the following events have in common?
· A traditional wedding celebration with its white-gowned bride;
· An emergence from an egg by an innovative entertainer;
· A murder trial involving a has-been celebrity and accompanying paparazzi;
· A political campaign with costumed supporters chanting in unison;
· A victory dance performed by a receiver after scoring a touchdown;
· An unresponsive answer given by an agenda-driven politician;
· A YouTube video of someone watching a YouTube video
· A proposal for marriage, made with a photographer nearby.
All of these seemingly disparate events—as well as countless others—portray an intentional effort by a “performer” to engage in some kind of “performance,” witnessed perhaps by another for whom it is done, often by an “audience” unaware of its spectator-status, but always by the performer, whose self-conscious perceptions subjectively determine the success or failure of the “performance.”
The FYRS course “‘Performing’ Life: Seeing the Self and Others as Role-Players in Reality” explores the idea that, as Shakespeare says, “All the world’s a stage.” We are all “performing life,” playing traditional or newly-defined roles while improvising our lines in a specially selected time and place before an “audience” of one or many, all in the effort to control the chaos of our lives with a more or less artistic presentation. Every instance of role-playing becomes the raw material to understand the personal, social, and cultural processes that lie beneath the performance in such varied arenas as politics and religion, unstructured play and formalized sports, popular entertainment and ritual reenactments, ethnic and gender studies, and interpersonal relationships. By closely considering the context of each performance, we will examine the nature of role-playing in the lives we encounter, including our own. In essence, “Performing Life” will study—through readings, experiments, and direct observation of others and ourselves—human existence as a life-shaping, and potentially life-changing “performance.”